Cast: Javed Khan, Jamuna, Rakesh Pandey, Huma Khan, Raza Murad, Mac Mohan
Director: Dhirendra Bohra
Music: Anand Milind
Nutshell: Bunch of Satanists end up evoking the wrath of a vengeful spirit (again!)
The Bohra brothers were among the also-rans during the horror boom of the 80’s churning out a number of low cost formula shockers. Kafan was one such effort, directed by Dhirendra while brother Virendra produced. The film has a cast of horror stalwarts in MacMohan, Huma and Javed Khan and of course Raza Murad and Jamuna.
The film begins with a voiceover explaining how all of universe and existence is a battle between those people like the Maha Tantrik who try to resolve problems and do good for mankind and those dastardly heathen swine who are followers of the master of darkness – the devil himself. We are introduced to a group of five Satanists who having devoted themselves to the master all these years are finally ready to move up on the ladder of evil. All they have to do is to find a young virgin who will then be sacrificed in a blood ritual after which the men should assume enormous powers which will ultimately lead them to world domination!
The voiceover also explains that wherever there have been evildoers, they have met with forces of good and been vanquished and this time a beautiful young student with a medical condition known as “intuition” is to find herself as the unsuspecting pawn in the deadly game between good and evil. The five Satanists decide to pounce on their stand in maid as the hoped-for virgin, but two of them find her utterly irresistible and rape her the night before the black magic ceremony. Because the sacrifice was not a virginal one things go horribly awry and diabolical things start to happen with alarming regularity! Neelam is slowly taken over by the spirit of the deceased dead maid and begins to behave in a very strange manner indeed.
Though Kafan is a rather confused jumble of ideas, somehow it is quite a gripping experience and some scenes are quite memorable. The films strength is mainly in that unlike most Bollywood horror films, this one doesn’t waver from its central plot and romance and comedy play a distant second fiddle while the entire focus of the film remains on thrills and chills. The background music is wonderfully eccentric and the horror props are deliciously wild. Some of the special effects are done in a “Coffin Joe” style and come off spectacularly well with the demonic Neelam on the attack zapping her enemies with death rays scratched on to the films enamel!
The film is full of energy and has a manic sort of atmosphere caused largely by the wonderful music, the feverish camera movements and the wizardry of the lighting technicians and those responsible for the smoke machines working to great effect! It’s cheap and tacky and rather a typical formula horror movie but one of the most entertaining one’s of its kind due to the welcome relief from tedious stretches of comedy by idiots such as Jagdeep or Narendranath or Paintal or one of their ilk. Also, songs are kept to a minimum as the film thankfully attempts to go for piling on the horror rather than the usual ploy of creating more threads to the story. Another of the films strengths is that the films insane plot is all based on local customs and traditions rather than being a rehash of western horror.
Javed Khan is suitably awful as the male lead but the seasoned Scream Queen Jamuna shows exactly why she earned that title as her own. Horror veteran Raza Murad turns in a solid performance as one of the evil Satanists and MacMohan lends good support. Kafan, despite its formulaic plot and its cheap budget and its lack of star quality manages to surprise and proves to be one of the most entertaining Bollywood horror films of all.
The best thing about Kafan is that it has done away with those elements of desi horror that are the downfall of nearly all local horror films – no plagiarized, rehashed scenes, no insufferable comedy and very few songs! It’s a diabolical, whacked-out, ultra-cheap, home-made roller coaster ride of cheesy horror – highly recommended.