Cinema/TV, Dracula

Your Daily Dracula – Ajay Agarwal, Bandh Darwaza (1990)

Your Daily Dracula – Ajay Agarwal, Bandh Darwaza/The Closed Door (1990)

This Indian Dracula knock-off features a tall, cloaked, fanged, blood-drinking personage addressed as nevla (The Master) or shaitan (demon or monster) but otherwise unnamed: as such, he might even be Dracula, rather than a local imitation.  Star Ajay Agarwal looks and acts like an unholy mix of Robert Quarry’s Count Yorga, a grown-up It’s Alive baby (with prominent forehead veins) and Rondo Hatton.

Like some 1970s Hammer Films, it winds up being a sequel to its own extended pre-credits sequence. In an eighteen-minute prologue, the infertile wife of a nobleman who is considering taking a younger secondary bride to secure an heir is advised by witchy servant Mahua (Aruna Irani, in a standout performance) to visit Kali Pahari (the Black Mountain), an evil region where the Master dominates a cult of fanatical, murderous followers.

A bargain is struck–the Master will impregnate the wife, and if the resulting baby is a boy, she will get to keep it.  Naturally, she gives birth to a girl, Kaamya, and tries to back out of the deal, leading to her death and the (temporary) destruction of the Master.

Two decades on, Kaamya (Kunika) is taken with often-shirtless (if smug) nice guy Kumar (Hashmat Khan).  Kaamya uses magic to influence Kumar while he is singing a love duet with his simpering sweetheart Sapna (Manjeet Kullar) – the nice, dull girl keeps turning into the exciting, wicked one in the choruses, disorienting the thickheaded swain.

Torn between her titular and actual father, Kaamya is instrumental in resurrecting the vampire.  Fulfilling the ‘Lucy’ role, the doomed Kaamya is more interesting (and sympathetic) than the good-looking, obnoxiously cheerful folk we’re supposed to worry about.

A long, intermittently clunky film, this overuses insistent crash-zooms and hissing samples from Harry Manfredini’s Friday the 13th score.  However, the Master is one of the most physical screen vampires – crashing through the windscreen of a moving car, chasing victims around his palace and rising from the dead covered in dripping slime.  Scripted by Dev Kishan and Shyan Ramsay; directed by Tulsi and Shyam Ramsay.

Extract from Kim Newman’s Video Dungeon.


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