Friday, August 28, 2009

Fear of the Unknown

In a prgram at a club, seven people are selected in a lucky draw as winners of some special package offer to spend a week holiday in abroad. All of them aboard a private aircraft but in the way, the aircraft encounters some problem and they have to land on a desolated island. When all of them get down from the plane, the pilot leaves them there on the island and flies away. Its then that they realise that they have been tricked. On that island there is a bunglow, in which there is a butler who has been instructed by 'someone' to take care of the guests. These seven unfortunate souls along with one flight attendant (the uninvited guest), end up in that bunglow and they get really scared when they come to know that they have been trapped by 'someone' on that island and that 'someone' wants to kill them one by one.That someone is reffered to as Gumnaam (one without any name) when they start hearing voices of a girl in the woods who sings a song "Gumnaam hai koi" (Someone is there, Unknown...)
This was the plot of 1965 hindi movie "Gumnaam". This movie became a legend and most importantly its title song, which is still one of the most famous songs of Hindi cinema. The genre of GUmnaam was thriller, however, the title song puts it into the genre of horror films as well.
It was I guess the first time when the Indian film makers realized that fear factor can be created by introducing an unknown entity in the story line. This practise is not so strictly followed in Hollywood as well. But as and when this formula was used it has proved successful.

If that is the case then why Ram Gopal Verma's Agyaat failed? This movie deals with a horrifying unknown entity right from the start of horror element in the movie. Why Agyaat failed to leave any impact on the viewers? Ofcourse you cant blame acting as acting is the least important thing in such movies.

Kaun By Ram Gopal Verma

Bhoot By Ram Gopal Verma
Ram Gopal Verma as popularly known as RGV is not an ordinary film maker. He has given lot many exceptionally well made movies like Company, Sarkar, Satya, Shiva, Rangeela, Raat, Kaun, Jungle, etc. and lot many from his production house, RGV Factory, viz. Darna Mana Hai, Road, Vasstu Shastra, etc. He has a grip over crime genre and he has proved his calibre in horror movies as well by films like Raat and Bhoot. Then why his recent experiment in Agyaat failed badly? is it because he has lost it?
His last film "RGV ki Aag" was a pathetic disaster and he himself accepted that it was an over experimentation.

But Agyaat's failure has got nothing to do with RGV ki Aag. His film Agyaat can be more closely associated with his previous film Jungle. The plot of Jungle was also based on "terror in woods" theme but Jungle was a well directed movie packed with some powerful performances.

Lets come to Agyaat. This film tells the story of a film crew which comes for shooting in a desolated woods far away from the city. There, because of some camera failure, the crew is left to spend some time in the jungle, and they decide to go deep into the jungle. That night they see a strange star falling from the sky (its not shown to the viewers) and after that they find themselves lost in the jungle and in continuous threat from an unknown entity who comes from nowhere and drags them one by one into the jaws of death. Nobody could see this killer nor understand its motive. They just know that there is some unknown entity, definitely not human, which is killing them all one by one. In the end only the hero heroine of the movie survive (typical hindi movie formula) and they somehow escape far away from that jungle.

Now there were lots of 'jhols' (loop holes) in the movie which could have been looked into. Okay, you are fascinated by the idea of some unknown 'thing' killing the characters of your story one by one; it seems a great idea. But you have created such an image of the unknown killer that you are not able to show in the end exactly what was that 'thing'? The film ends with the dialogues: "Sab marr gaye" (Everybody is dead)
"Kisne maara?" (Who killed?)
They look back at the jungle and say
"pata nahi" (we dont know)...
and the movie ends...
Thats really irritating. For 1.5 hrs you torture the viewers that something is killing the characters of the story and in the end you dont even show what that thing was?
Anyway, that might also be a kind of experimentation that RGV desired to do. This could also have been a success. In the film they show that the lone survivors, i.e. the lead couple use their "brain" to find out that the "Agyaat" fears water. This idea could have been explored and they could have shown that these people by applying their ideas somehow defeat that "thing" without seeing it. Then it would have been a good movie.Or else atleast they should have shown the reason as to why this thing is killing them all.

I am not aware of any thriller movie which doesnot disclose its suspense in the end. And even if its 'Agyaat', its identity should have been revealed in the end. Here are some really good examples of the movies based on this 'unknown identity' thing:

  1. Gumnaam, in the end they found out that killer was one of those 8 people.

  2. Stephen King's "IT"; in which a bunch of kids destroy an evil entity which does not have any name. They call it "IT". IT appears before them in the guise of an evil clown which became popular as "Pennywise". These kids destroy this IT not once but twice. This famous novel of Stephen King has been adapted into a successful movie and a very famous Hindi TV Serial "Woh".
  3. "The Friday the 13th" series. Its one of the most famous film series based on "terror in the woods" theme. A killer named Jason comes back from the dead and kills some unfortunate youths who come for a vacation in the famous "Camp Crystal Lake".
  4. "The Blair Witch Project" In my opinion this is the best movie based on the theme which RGV thought Agyaat is based on. Three students go on an expedition to find out the truth about a mountain known to be haunted by witches. In this film also they never show what was the thing which is terryfying them throughout the movie and in the end everybody die. This is a legendary horror film of Hollywood.

Agyaat seem to be inspired by lots of movies like the above mentioned ones. But even then it fails because RGV forgot the basic rule of horror movies "If something scares you, its not necessary that it'll scare someone else too"

1 comment:

Chaitanya said...

What about Nightmare on Elm street?