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DVD Review: THE GHOST (AATMA)



Studio: Image Entertainment
Year: 2006
Cast: Kapel Khan, Neha, Amriena, Sadashiv Amrapurkar, Laila Patel
Director: Deepak Ramsay
Release Date: December 28, 2008
Rating: Not Rated for (gore, violence, disturbing imagery)
Run Time: 01h:47m:27s
Genre(s): horror, foreign

"I will make your life a hell." - Avinash (Deep Dhillon)

THE GHOST (AATMA)

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What do you get when you take Exorcist-style goings-on and send them to Bollywood? Well, let's just say that dance numbers pop up in the strangest places.

Movie Grade: B-

DVD Grade: B

This effort from the "Ramsay House of Horror" (as the credits put it) allows Westerners a look at the wacky world of Indian cinema, where musical numbers are obligatory, no matter what else is happening. Here, they're married to a fairly standard horror/suspense outing that offers some good moments in amongst the strangeness. It can't be denied, though, that the oddity of the proceedings lends them a certain charm, although it does defuse the suspense substantially.

The pre-credits possession-and-exorcism sequence has nothing whatsoever to do with the rest of the picture, and feels like padding. After this somewhat gory and disturbing sequence of possession of an old woman's corpse, we then shift to the actual story, which centers on Dr. Aman Mehra (Kapel Khan), a forensic physician, as he celebrates his first wedding anniversary with his wife Neha (played by a woman credited simply as "Neha"). At 1:11 A.M., Aman is awakened by a visitor, Avidash (Deep Dhillon), who warns the doctor that he should tell that poison was the cause of death of the corpse he will autopsy the following day, and that he will be punished if he does not. Shaken by these events, Aman is then leaned upon by crooked lawyer Khurana (Sadashiv Amrapurkar) to treat the death as one of natural causes, threatening Neha's life. Although Aman agrees, he is seriously unnerved when he sees that the corpse on the table is none other than Avinash. When he complish with the blackmail, Avinash is unhappy indeed, and returns daily at 1.:11 A.M. to possess Neha and use her as his instrument of vengeance.

The actual horror moments are done pretty well; the sequence of Aman being driven mad by Avinash's pounding at the door is grueling, and some of the possession scenes have a visceral immediacy that doesn't rely on shocks so much as atmosphere and weirdnesses. Unfortunately, in between there are not only the musical numbers but also Kung Fu Theater style martial-arts fighting by policeman Inspector Siddharth (Vikram Kumar), who is dating Neha's brainless sister Aarti (Amriena). None of this adds much to the picture, since Aarti and Siddharth are just around for laughs and have little to do with the plot. Ramsay's penchant for repeated zooms from different angles gets a little tiring after a while.

The leads acquit themselves quite well, with Khan doing a good job of portraying a man torn between the demands of the mob and the afterlife. Neha is viciously mad and quite horrifying without the help of any pea soup. Amriena and Kumar grossly overact their supporting parts, making them enjoyable on a kitschy level but not in any sense of actually being competent or credible.

The 5.1 audio is reasonably good, with a much wider soundstage than the stereo version, and it provides a fair amount of impact. Although most DVDs of films from India that I've seen look pretty bad, the transfer here is excellent, with plenty of detail, vivid colors and good black levels. Although the package says the aspect ratio is 1.85:1, it's in fact 2.35:1.

The only extras present are a set of three nonanamorphic trailers for the feature here, as well as two each from "forthcoming attractions" Devi and Paap, neither of which gives a very clear sense of what they're about.

Posted by: Mark Zimmer - May 3, 2009, 8:20 pm - DVD Review
Keywords: horror, exorcism, bollywood, ghosts




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