Sunday, 18 August 2013
100 Days. Bollywood Horror
During a decidedly non-competitive game of tennis, Devi (Madhuri Dixit) experiences the first in a series of terrifying premonitions: a gun-toting man clad in a black leather trenchcoat; a girl drying her hair who will soon hit the floor after taking a bullet at point blank range. While further visions fail to reveal the killer's face, Devi discovers the victim will be her sister, Rama (Moon Moon Sen), and desperately tries to save her. 5 years later, with Rama missing, presumed dead, Devi marries businessman Ram Kumar (Jackie Shroff). While renovating their newly acquired bungalow, Devi discovers the skeleton of her sister after taking a pickaxe to an interior wall.
If the plot sounds strangely familiar, then you may well be a disciple of the late Lucio Fulci, because this is a 160 minute remake of The Psychic . Overall, Partho Ghosh follows the source material fairly closely, with Devi's visions including a distinctive brand of cigarettes, a magazine photo (this time with a horse on the cover - a nod to the equestrian suspect in the original) and stolen works of art. We also have another limping man to contend with, and a broken mirror: as neither figure in Devi's premonitions, one assumes they serve as further acknowledgement of Fulci's tight-as-a-drum giallo. One valuable plot addition concerns a videotape which contains the identity of the killer, and whose hastily conceived title (100 Days) is a reference to the opening 13 weeks of Devi's marriage. Partho Ghosh unveils a few more surprises before the credits roll - particularly during the suspense-driven final act - though Bollywood newcomers may find the first hour to be heavy going in places, as romantic interludes force the nicely developing plot to frequently grind to a halt.'Go with the flow' has to be the message here, as there are several extremely funny scenes to savour, and some wonderful song and dance numbers which are a riot of gorgeous colours and infuriatingly catchy tunes. Kumar's presence at a wedding offers the film's most humerous moments, when he's accused of theft, thanks to his bungling assistant, while "Ladiki Ladiki" (the first of 5 songs) features pistol-packin' babes dancing down graffiti-infested corridors, while their male partners indulge in shaving foam wars, washed down by a spot of kung fu. While such moments are well worth the admission price, 100 Days does, on occasion, enter the realms of the absurd with a couple of staggeringly inept fight scenes, and a finale that features at least two-twists-too-many.
While one can only speculate as to what Fulci would have made of this, those gorgeous Indian babes would surely have brought a twinkle to his eye and, one suspects, Lucio would at least applaud the concept of combining romance, thriller, horror and musical into one colourful package.
A Region 0 DVD is currently available on the Eros International label. Although there is some print damage, the transfer is mostly stunning with cool aqua blues and warm undistorted reds making this a feast for the eyes; indeed, it's hard to imagine it looking much better. Although 100 Days was shot in Cinemascope 2.35:1, the 1.85:1 ratio used here is more than acceptable, and Raam Laxman's score - supremely spooky in places - is well served by a clear, up-front audio mix.
As usual, the English subtitles suffer from translation, often providing hilarious reading ("By slipping, I've reached till here") and you'd better brush up on your speed-reading as dialogue has often moved on before you can blink.
Not, then, an unqualified success but 100 Days is entertaining for the most part, and a decent introduction to Bollywood delights