Banners: Motion Picture Capital, Loneranger, Reliance Entertainment Production
Director: Vikram Bhatt
Cast: Zareen Khan, Karan Kundra
Writer: Vikram Bhatt
Music: Harish Sagane, Asad Khan, Pranit Mawale
A decade after 1920, Vikram Bhatt is back with another horror flick, 1921. However, 1921 is notconsidered a sequel to 1920. The earlier film, which released in 2008, garnered immense appreciation for its spine-chilling story and visuals. It was engrossing. The same cannot be said of his latest endeavour, 1921.
The film is based in the year 1921 where Ayush (Karan Kundra) and Rose (Zareen Khan) battle extreme paranormal activities created by a ruthless and cursed spirit that lead them to their ultimate redemption.
Ayush, a pianist, goes to London to be trained in music, an idea inspired by his father’s boss, M Wadia (Vikram Bhatt). The latter insists that Ayush act as caretaker of his mansion there while pursuing his dreams. Ayush shifts his base to York and all is well till the spirits in the mansion start to spook him. Screams at odd hours, shadows flitting behind the protagonist, death threats in blood on the mirror are the doings of a ghost.
Initially, one assumes that the mansion has a haunted past but as the story unfolds, the script gets baffling. Ayush learns about Rose, a ghost whisperer who communicates with spirits. She attempts to free him of the evil spirits, and they fall in love. How the lovers face the evil spirits together and uncover one shocking truth after another, is what forms the crux of the story.
The location in York, the opulent mansion, the street lanterns and such add to the essence of the bygone era. The sequences with the ghost in the library, the way a pivotal character gets possessed by the ghostly spirit are just some moments that will spook the audience. However, the scenes where the central characters try to escape the spirits look a little amateurish.
While the script had all the elements of being the scariest Bollywood movie to date, flaws in execution prevent it from achieving that goal. The story appears to have been written in a hurry, the dots simply don’t connect, many transitions are messy and the songs occur abruptly. Only the background score adds an additional edge.
All in all, Vikram Bhatt proves that if horror can be done in Bollywood, only he can really pull it off. There is no denying that story-wise, we have a long way to go to match up to Hollywood’s standards of horror. Yet, with a crisp background score, shocking sequences and a general ability to scare people, Bhatt has managed to give us a passable horror film yet again.
Performance-wise, Zareen Khan has upped her game a little. Good in certain scenes, she struggles to hold her performance throughout the film. Karan Kundra is good. Anna Dawson as the ghost gives us some good scares. Vikram Bhatt’s cameo is a pleasant surprise. The rest of the supporting cast is decent.
Verdict: Below average.