The new millennium held a lot of promise for the horror genre. There were new technologies and film–makers that were okay with trying something new. Governments acknowledged the whole world was a stage. Films could make money in foreign territory too now. A whole new generation of film makers wanted to try their hands on horror films. Horror was one of those genres that made instant money, at least by selling it in the smaller territories. Second and third generations film-makers tried to change the horror genres. This article is about a film like that – Shaapit, by Vikram Bhatt.
The film begins in the way a typical romance story would. Boy and girl, Aman and Kaya are in love, boy proposes to girl by rocking her finger and they break into a romantic song. The last sequence of the song is the boy and girl in a car. Now, any other film would have this scene end the next morning, but this is a horror film. So, the scene ends in the film’s supernatural scene – a car crash which sends the girl in the hospital.
It is at the hospital that we realise that Aman’s father doesn’t even know who the boy is. When the father finds out about the engagement, he refuses it straight away. After a while, we find out the reason. It gives us Purana Mandir feels – a tantrik has cursed the Kayas family. Whenever a girl from their family marries, she will die along with her husband.
The boy doesn’t believe in the curse and gets the help of a paranormal investigator. He first has to convince the investigator that he really means it. To do this, he gets a book that’s supposed to have a spirit in it.
After convincing the investigator, he, along with a friend, goes to the place where it all started. What follows is a long journey and a decent adventure, depicting the lifting of the curse.
Shaapit has an interesting storyline – even if part of it seems inspired from Purana Mandir. It is evident that the writers went through a bit to give a logical Bollywood horror film.
In a first, a character carries out an action to convince the paranormal investigator to help him. There is no emotional diatribe. The writers added aspects like a spirit carrying the curse and being the problem. But the long, meandering screenplay and scenes take away from the urgency. What’s a horror sequence without the urgency? This one becomes more of an adventure film and not a horror one – and adventure films have seldom worked in India.
By this time, film-makers had no issues for budgets and the production values of a horror film were as good as a mainstream romantic comedy. There was no reason for Vikram to skimp on production and he hasn’t. The film has decent sequences, even the ones that show a palatial palace. The one aspect that niggles is the costumes of the dancers in the medieval times. Looks like the dancers time-traveled and got their costumes from Lokhandwala, Andheri!
The film is also missing the Bhatt stamp – melodious songs that do all the legwork that a film’s PR should do in India. There’s not a single hummable song and that is what takes off the sheen off the film. You can watch the film here: