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Kanti Shah’s ‘Virana’ is Bollywood’s answer to ‘Manos – Hands of Fate’

Bollywood horror fans consider the 70s and the 80s as the golden age of Bollywood horror. The patch of modern film-making that hit the horror genre in the 90s gave us some good films but the late 90s and the early ’00s actually had no one ready to take the  mantle of ‘the Bollywood horror film maker’. Films like ‘Raaz’ and ‘Jism’ were still a couple of years away. This gave rise to indie filmmakers trying their hand at making Bollywood horror films at a shoestring budget and with at-available creative resources. Kanti Shah’s ‘Virana’ is the picture of late nineties, early ’00s Bollywood horror film making.

Kanti Shah’s Virana Synopsis

The film begins with a young girl having haunting dreams, her brother and their servants worried about the disturbing dreams that she has. The girl lives in a haveli with her brother, and that’s supposed to be haunted. The spirit kills both the servants and in this scenario comes Maya, a friend of the brother and sister. Maya comes across a man who tells her the story behind the spirit in the bungalow.

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Kanti Shah’s Virana actually has a man in a mask playing the monster. 

Basically, the daughter of the previous owner of the bungalow had an affair with the servant. This prompted the owner of the bungalow to kill the daughter as well as the servant. The spirit of the servant killed he owner and since then, he has been haunting the people who live in the bungalow.

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The outrageous fashion sense is a cause of concern 

The spirit’s next victim is Maya, but he doesn’t kill her. In fact, the spirit begins controlling Maya. Under the influence of the spirit, Maya allows several people to board in the bungalow – all of who meet their untimely demise. Veerana reaches its predictable end when the owner of the house returns with a priest, who exorcises the ghost out of Maya.

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The superlow budget film has zero exterior shots

Kanti Shah’s Virana Review

Kanti Shah is known in Bollywood for his super small budget films that cater to the masses. One of India’s most infamous films, ‘Gunda’ comes from his inventory, so a hardcore Bollywood fan would know what to expect from a Kanti Shah film, and this film doesn’t disappoint. It’s got Sapna in her bare-n-dare avatar. It’s got its women dressed in the most outlandish and illogical dresses.  ‘Virana’ is also classic low budget – the entire film is shot in a single bungalow. You don’t see anyone except the cast of the film – so on and so forth.

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Bare, dare, don’t care

Virana has a lot of stock footage and stock music. It has amateurish graphics and the ‘man-in-a-mask’ demon. The main demon in the film is literally a man wearing a mask, with zero environmental props like smoke, lights,etc. This is frugal filmmaking at its nadir.

YouTube has the one and a half hour version, and while viewing the film, there were some jump cuts. This raises the question whether the film was censored because of its bold content. Bollywood horror films are infamous for putting in double entendre dialogues to cater to the mass market.  Also, the YouTube version had no songs. It’s a question whether the film had no songs during release or were the songs clipped to decrease the duration.

Looking at this film, it’s actually quite interesting to know that Kanti Shah is still active in the film industry. What’s more, he still has Sapna as his lead actress. Post 2015, he announced two films and both of them were fodder for controversy. There was this an anouncement of  his film called ‘Sheena Murder Case’,  allegedly based on the Indrani Mukherjee  – Sheena Bohra murder case. Sapna shared several posters of that film on her Twitter account. The poster is more of a ‘trade poster’ – it has information about the shooting schedules, etc. This is normally done when the film’s poster had a dual requirement – to inform fans about the release and also inform distributors about a film that’ll be available soon.

You can watch this film here:

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