Saturday, November 25, 2006

[1980] GEHRAYEE: BOLLYHORROR! Well, sort of--it's a Hindi riff on The Exorcist, but there's no gore or spinning heads or anything. But there are weird noises on the soundtrack, and explosions of music when something mystical is happening, even if from the point of view of the characters there's nothing out of the ordinary. The plot was a leetle hard to follow (the subtitles were creative on the disc I got from Netflix) but basically a servant had his life turned upside down when the farmland he'd sweated his whole life away on was sold off to be turned into a factory--the current head of the family--a guy called Chennabassapa (Shreeram Lagoo)--who owned the land crushed this guy's loyalty like it was a bug. And so he took vengeance! And hired a shaman (the subtitles said "god man") to possess Chennabassapa's daughter Uma (Padmini Kolhapure) and scare the crap out of everyone and dredge up some nasty business in Chennabasspa's past. So like I said, no gore, but this is much more of a family drama than American horror movies tend to be; in our movies you can certainly read a slasher picture as embodying sublimated sexual tension or something, but the movie is ultimately about teenagers getting stabbed to death. This movie really is about a stubborn, thickheaded father ordering shock treatments for his daughter because it's something someone in the well-to-do middle class would do, and a traditional, weak-willed mother (Indrani Mukherjee) who can't stand up for herself or anyone else because that's not something she's supposed to do, and a son (Anant Nag) who as a result lacks anything like a clue about what to do when his sister starts going crazy. Yeah--it's the story of these three people's distinct failures in response to Uma's crisis, because they all end up hurting her in the attempt to reclaim her. The possession stuff is entertaining but it's not the reason for this movie's existence--it's more a device to put this family through the metaphysical wringer. Check it out if you're both in the mood for horror and in the mood for something a little different.

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