After 'Phoonk', you'd think the possessed woman was a thing of the past. But wait, it's time for another lady to elevate far beyond her bed in a horizontal high that gives you a crick in the neck.
'1920' is 'Phoonk' in Scotland (or whichever foreign scenic spot), where the devil catches hold of the leading lady as she rests her head on the rattling bed, moved back by almost a century.
Screenwriter Vikram Bhatt attempts to thrust a weight over the theme of exorcism by taking the supernatural theme to British India. So we have soldiers, mutineers, rebels and renegades popping into the Scottish scenario like random guests at a outdoor masquerade party.
And then we have a doctor mentioning a certain 'Dr Sigmund Fried' who is doing research somewhere far away from this film's horrific domestic tussles, researching on the human psychology.
By the time we get to the grisly climax with flying chairs and human limbs, writer-director Bhatt, trying to do a razz-matazz to his supernatural hit 'Raaz' five years ago, is on to a bigger formula.
The holy chants of the Christian priest (Raj Zutsi, trying hard to pronounce Latin correctly and translating it promptly into English and Hindi) merge into the chants of the Hanuman Chalisa. This is secularism gone supernatural!
There's something terribly artificial about implanting a historical element into a tale that essentially wants to tap the most primitive and primeval fears of the audience. Rather than going into a tale of betrayal during times of cruel colonialism, Bhatt's narrative should have just stuck to its gory guns.
Then maybe, just maybe, the B and C centre audiences who got the jitters watching 'Phoonk' would've trembled at the diabolic toss and turn that the love birds experience in a verdant castle that is supposed to be situated somewhere in India in the year 1920.
So panoramic and National Geographic is the view that we often want the lead pair (both wooden and uninspired even when the ghouls provoke them into animated retaliation) to just move out of camera range.
Alas, '1920' has a scary story to tell.
We are scared all right. Though for reasons other than the ones Bhatt would want us to be.
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