Attack of the 90's: Raja Hindustani (1996)

Last night I ventured into a horrifying territory: where close-ups are too close, heroes--not villains--engage in baby-stealing, synthesized bells and whistles and percussion herald the decision to Marry Beneath One's Station, and short skirts are known to be the Portent of Doom and the End of India as we know it.

Yes, I cowered under my covers last night, bathed in the treacherously seductive colors of Raja Hindustani (1996).

Like its honored ancestor, Jab Jab Phool Khile (1965), Raja Hindustani bored me, shocked me, wooed me, and frightened me, sometimes all within the course of two minutes.

See this face?

And this face?

Don't be fooled by either of these innocent, questioning, gazes. Don't be lulled into a cozy half-slumber. Do not let the wine of your Bolly-watching habit render you sleepy and useless.

Be guarded. Keep watch. For this is a world where the writers, er, villains seek to outdo the great-grand-villains they have grown up idolizing.

I am bound by blogging-honor to warn you: This is not a love story. This is a horror film. How else am I to explain Tere Ishq Mein Naachenge?

This is a world where lying about a dress suit can bring disaster upon your head.

Where homely hill stations hide sinister, bubbling, inter-class conflicts right beneath the surface:

Where this is a sign of hidden love, not hidden hangover.

Where stepmothers are as evil (and as possessing of the most perfectly raised eyebrows) as the day Baba Yaga spawned them . . . and greedy to boot.

Where stormy tree-kisses . . .

Lead to spontaneous window-writhing (window-gasming?).

Where this face by the hero . . .

Leads to this wall-writhing . . . (work that face, Aamir).

A world where women are forced into positions on swings that cannot possibly be comfortable by any definition:

Where this violently blue lighting . . .

Stalks Karisma via Aamir all the way to Mumbai.

Where this woman WILL tell you your future while coming onto you in a public place, whether you like it or not.

Where Karisma is actually stupid-enough to miss the fact that these two fellows are THE INCARNATION OF EVIL.

But, of course, stupid females without any common sense are the bread and butter of horror films.

Note: I actually liked both of these films (JJPK, and RH) in spite of myself, or perhaps because of myself. Not sure which. Recommended viewing, provided you approach the stories with the appropriate amount of willing suspension of ethical belief. I for one may forget my principles another night and re-watch both, so how can I deny you the same reprieve?


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