The newer generation of entertainment content producers has a special place for Bollywood horror of the eighties and nineties. Many of them grew up on it and therefore has fleeting memories.
Some of them decide to make videos or even a series based on that. Kanan Gill and Biswa Kalyan Rath owe their careers to Bollywood kitsch from the eighties and now, Varun Thakur tries his hand at the old ‘imitation is the best form of flattery’ with Shaitaan Haveli, the horror comedy on Amazon Prime. Here’s our Shaitaan Haveli review
Shaitaan Haveli Synopsis:
Director Hariman’s last film has flopped at the box office. In a desperate attempt to appease the underworld don who’s money he’d borrowed, Harinam decides to return to his film-making roots, a horror film. Hariman has a forced cast already, the don’s dumb as a barbell son, Monty, his firang girlfriend, Julia, an infamous television actress, Prathana and Rahul, a struggler who agrees to play the parallel lead role. And of course, there’s Mukesh, an aging star who has to be content with turning into one of the many stock villains that such films had in the eighties.
Shaitaan Haveli Review:
Shaitaan Haveli has an interesting concept. It’s a meta-film that’s about film-making. It gets the kitsch and the pulp from the eighties right. The ambiance, the dialogues, the color-correction – all that’s there. Also, there is the art direction – the kinda soiled bathrooms, the ‘target practice’ cholis et al. Some of the characters are a hark to audiences who actually watched these films.
There’s a Puneet Issarish character, there’s the skank jacket that actors like Mohnish Behl and Deepak Parashar made famous and of course, there’s a square-jawed character who has a striking resemblance to Anirrudh Agarwal, the man who actually played the demon in many of the Ramsay films.
The screenplay is absurd cinema at its best. The sequences, the dialogues, the physical language, all jumps about to tell us how misogynistic, politically incorrect and vapid the film industry was at the time.
Something else that keeps you engaged is the oft-heard but well-enacted storyline and the performances. It’s a wonder to see the characterizations of even the smallest characters etched out in so much detail.
Also present is what’s par for the course, a hit back on the vapid atmosphere that the film industry is. Like when the director says that it’s a technical glitch when his lead can’t get the scene correct because he is so dumb, and other such things.
But because we can’t have a perfect world, the series misses out an important ingredient – humor. For what it’s worth, there are not more than 5 sequences that got me to chuckle or even grin and nod my head. If you’re looking for a laughfest, Shaintaan Haveli is not for you.
Be that as it may, Shaitaan Haveli is a rollicking trip down memory lane for the old timers and a good watch for the newer generation. Watch the trailer here: