Tahkhana (1986)


Tahkhana (1986)
Cast: Hemant Birje, Aarti Gupta, Kamran Rizvi, Imtiaz Khan, Puneet Issar
Director: Shyam Ramsay & Tulsi Ramsay
Nutshell: typical Ramsay effort with a hairy monster running amok in the Tahkahana


This was churned out during the horror boom of the mid 80’s when the Ramsay lot was at its most prolific. The film follows on from where Purana Mandir left off attempting to employ the same formula hoping that it would lead to a similarly spectacular Box Office success. The cast is almost identical to that of PM with a bunch of Ramsay regulars in Hemant Birje, Aarti Gupta, Puneet Issar and co, but the scene stealing appearance comes from one of the great beauties, not to mention best ever actresses of Indian cinema history; gods gift to humanity, a modern goddess to millions around the world, the one and only Sheetal.

The plot of the film is staple Ramsay material with an old Thakur type just about to keel over in is ancient ancestral haveli but as he gasps his last breaths he manages to tell his son that none of his fortune should go to younger son Durjan who is deeply ashamed of because of his indulgence in satanic worship and his propensity for sacrificing children for his vile deities. Durjan mocks the old man mercilessly who then has one final seizure and dies. The evil Durjan then plans to resurrect an ancient monster, buried for hundreds of years but not quite dead, by using his brothers’ two daughters for blood sacrifice. The young daughters escape but are separated in the struggle…one returns home to grow up twenty years later as the ravishing Aarti Gupta while the other we find out later is the bombshell Sheetal.

Durjan now offers his own body to the monster in a rather spiffingly staged scene where veins and blobs are shown swelling up and twitching. Some place else Durjan’s good brother has a terrible heart attack and summons his nephews and nieces to inform them about the Purani Haveli which contains a dungeon (Tahkhana) in which the family treasures are stashed blah blah blah and he makes them give a “vachan” (promise) to carry out the mission of finding the lost sister and securing the stash. Unfortunately one of the nephews that he entrusts is a nasty, scheming part time rapist creep by the name of Shahkal (Imtiaz Khan). The dying old man also informed the youngsters that the other sister has a locket (just like the one Aarti is wearing) which carries half of a map which leads to the treasures. They have to find the sister, get the locket and find the loot.

The sizzling hot pants wearing Sapna (Sheetal) arrives looking for work at a sleazy hotel where she is duped into a job as a go-go dancer by the swinish Shahkal. Later, finding her bewitching curves and beauty as well as her intellect utterly irresistible, he attacks poor Sheetal and ties her up. Just as he is going to “satisfy his animal lust” she manages to break free, but in doing so ruptures her neck and dies. Shahkal discovers Sapna’s locket while disposing of her body and now has the key to finding the loot all by himself. When questioned about Sapna he tells the rest of the gang (the good guys, Aarti, Puneet, Kamran Rizvi) that he has the locket but hands them a fake and when they go digging in the Purani Haveli and start digging in all the wrong places…a dark, hairy presence notices the intrusion and gets very angry indeed – remember that the monster now uses the vengeful Durjan’s soul as its source of awesome power.

The good guys are lucky to befriend local strongman Hemant Birje who assumes the role of hero with his bulging biceps and burgeoning intellect. After a series of shocking deaths, with a few songs thrown in and a bit of typically infantile comedy courtesy of Rajendranath, we reach the typical climax with the ghastly monster being sent back where he belongs. The sets and props that elevated much mundane Ramsay material is not evident this time around…the haveli is fairly spooky with all that fake fog billowing about yet it doesn’t match the mood of some of their finer moments like Veerana or Bandh Darwaza or even Purana Mandir. The acting is as bad/good as one expects of this kind of fare and the background music is also staple Ramsay stuff which they used in every second production if not every single one! Tahkhana isn’t a bad effort yet it is an unmemorable one. Perhaps this is because the team concentrated a little too hard on physique of their muscle bound hero and not enough on the monster who is also just the stock Ramsay hairy beast, nothing more. Tahkhana remains a not bad, but far from vintage Ramsay horror flick.