More Bollywood lunacy from the wonderful Ramsay Brothers. VEERANA is
actually one of the Ramsayís more accomplished efforts, a colorful and
energetic swirl of vampire movie madness.
The ďinspirationĒ for VEERANA (a.k.a. LONELINESS; 1985)
was reportedly Jose Larrazís 1974 erotic vampire fest VAMPYRES, although
the film also lifts from THE EXORCIST and SUSPIRIA. The Bombay-based
Ramsay family (including directors Tulsi and Shyam, producers Kanta and
Anjali, screenwriter Kumar, sound recordist Kiran and cinematographer
Gangu, all working under the auspices of the family patriarch F.U.
Ramsay) had already scored a huge success with the enormously
influential PURANA MANDIR the previous year.
Indian horror films are subject to strict censorship,
and for VEERANA the Ramsays elected to amplify the sex quotient to
compete with Western horror fare. The resulting film was rejected by
Bombay censors, and had to wait until 1988 before it was finally
released in a reedited version (during the intervening years the
ever-prolific Ramsays cranked out four more films). Iím assuming itís
this version thatís now available on VCD/DVD in India and in the US by
Mondo Macabro (and thus the subject of this review).
A pretty young woman named Jasmin lives in a castle
owned by the wealthy head of a lumber company. One night Jasmin is drawn
into a dark underground chamber where a sinister warlock presides over a
group of freaky mask-wearing cultists. The object of their worship is
the corpse of a hanged witch, whose spirit seeks to resurrect itself by
When Jasmin returns to the family castle she finds she
has a split personality: when she looks into a mirror a snaggle-toothed
demon stares back. She also develops psychic powers, which she
demonstrates by telepathically smashing a fish tank.
Around this time a scruffy man comes to stay at the
castle. The man immediately notices that somethingís wrong with our
seemingly sweet and innocent heroine when he spies her performing an
erotic musical number in the bathtub. Heís right to be alarmed!
The following day Jasmin comes on to a randy gas
station attendant. He ends up following her to a lake where she strips
down, and then back to the castle. There the two have sex, after which
she turns into the ugly demon seen in the mirror and stabs the guy to
The following night another horny dude picks Jasmin up.
This guyís a motorist who passes her on a lonely highway; she doesnít
wait around this time, offing him right there in his own car!
By now Jasminís family is growing concerned. Her sister
spots her in demon mode and gets freaked out. A hypnotist is called in
to attend to her, only to have her swear at him in an EXORCIST-like
demon voice and telepathically make him crash his car.
Letís not forget the scruffy man staying in the castle,
who has long-held suspicions about Jasmin. He ends up tied to a log in
Jasminís fatherís factory and sawed up. Itís clear that something needs
to be done--a raid upon the cavern where all the trouble began is
clearly in order, with a magic trident in tow!
While this film is trashy and derivative in the manner
of most Bollywood horror films, directors Tulsi and Shyam Ramsay
lavished an unusual amount of care upon it. VEERANA has a bold
inspired color scheme thatís compelling and eye-pleasing, and
above-average special effects.
Excess is a prime ingredient of Bollywood cinema,
horror or otherwise, and VEERANA is nothing if not excessive. The wild
climax is particularly over-the-top with its non-stop cavalcade of
martial arts, fire, exploding heads and an extremely active statue of
the Goddess Kali.
Iíll have to say, though, that Mid-eighties Bollywood
standards of beauty were evidently quite different than those of today.
This explains why the protagonistís ďseductiveĒ behavior never seemed
all that alluring. Still, the erotic content was unprecedented for the
time, and helps make VEERANA the standout effort it is.
As for the song and dance numbers, they did little for
me, but at least the Ramsays made an effort to integrate them into the
main body of the film. The result is a grade-A Bollywood blast that will
never displace THE EXORCIST or the original
MASSACRE in anyoneís mind, but which taken on its own terms
is a small classic.
Sai Om Productions
Directors: Tulsi Ramsay, Shyam Ramsay
Producers: Kanta Ramsay, Anjali Ramsay
Screenplay: Shyam Ramsay
Cinematography: Gangu Ramsay
Editing: Shyam Ramsay
Cast: Jasmin, Hement Birje, Sahila Chaddha, Kubhushan Kharbanda, Satish
Shah, Rajesh Vivek, Kamal Roy, Vijayendra Ghatge, Gulshan Grover, Rama