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  Purana Mandir Curse Of The Demon
Year: 1984
Director: Shyam Ramsay, Tulsi Ramsay
Stars: Mohnish Bahl, Arti Gupta, Puneet Issar, Sadashiv Amrapurkar, Ajay Agarwal, Priti Sapru, Sadhana Khote, Satish Shah, Trilok Kapoor, Dr. Satish Chopra, Rajendra Nath, Vishakha Chotu, Alka Noopur, Binny Rai, Pradeep Kumar, Dheeraj Kumar, Leena Das
Genre: Horror, Musical, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Two centuries ago, there was a demon named Saamri (Ajay Agarwal) terrorising the land, but when he drained the local nobleman's daughter of blood it was the final straw, and the locals banded together under the rich Singh family to capture and destroy the monster. They did not quite succeed in doing so, but they did manage to separate it from its head to bury at two different locations so it would never bother them again, yet before the decapitation Saamri had a curse to place on the Singhs: the distaff side were doomed to die in childbirth!

Purana Mandir, meaning The Old Temple, was a massive hit in its territories back in the mid-eighties, the culmination of years of success for the Ramsay family of filmmakers. They had made their fortune creating what would probably be called in the West exploitation movies, and their brand of horror was well known to Indian moviegoers, much like Hammer had been for Brits not so long ago. Here they apparently got their formula of chills, shocks and of course, songs just right, and this remains one of the most popular horror movies ever made in India, even for those turned off by the musical interludes.

The bulk of the plot is not set two hundred years ago, but in the present day, although the Ramsays had a neat trick of adopting a rural backdrop which effectively wed modern sensibilities with a more traditional basis for the thrills, much like a Hollywood horror would by updating the vampire myth to the current century. Our hero and heroine are Sanjay (Mohnish Bahl) and Suman (Arti Gupta), she being the latest in the line of Singhs, unaware why her mother had died while giving birth to her, or indeed why her father is so dead against her getting a boyfriend. What he's not telling her is that he hates the idea of losing her should she get married.

But not because he doesn't believe in that old "not losing a daughter, gaining a son" saw, but because he dreads what will happen if they decide to have kids, i.e. no more Suman as the curse claims her. He even goes to the extent of having Sanjay beaten up to dissuade him, but fortunately his best friend Anand (Puneet Issar) knows kung fu, and makes short work of the heavies - this skill will come in handy later on. Eventually the father has to come clean, and Sanjay has a solution, no, not celibacy, but tracking down the demon's body and head to their graves at the old building in the forest and destroying them.

As with most Bollywood movies, there are a host of subplots to contend with as the Ramsays threw everything they could at their audiences to keep them in their seats, which worked as it turned out. There was even a lengthy spoof of one of the biggest Indian movies ever, Sholay, that appears to have very little to do with the rest of the story no matter how long they spend on it. Also worth noting was that the sexual angle was more explicit here than in most Bollywood efforts, no nudity certainly but quite a lot of ogling young female cast members in their swimsuits, even including a shower scene with that old favourite, the blood streaming from the shower head, that had Gupta dressed for a day at the beach. The songs were the usual love or religious tunes, but there was one concession to the genre with a groovy ditty about preparing for death, this sung as Sanjay and Suman are tied up as a potential sacrifice. One of the loudest horrors ever made, it was lurid yet oddly innocent, and entertaining for that reason. Music by Ajit Singh.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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