'Chudail' hit the theaters in 1997 and I watched it a week after its release. Since it was a B-movie, I didn't have much expectation on the budget, but as a hardcore fan of B-horror, I was dying to give it a try. To my surprise, there were only 25-30 people in the hall, which ensured my thought of 'Chudail' being a disaster horror film. I had a small idea that it was based on Max Rother's short story 'The Witch' and what I was about to see was the Indianized version of Rother's tale. The movie began and minute-by-minute it became so engaging that after leaving the hall, I was dying to watch it either again or find a VCD for home viewing! Finally after 13 years of search, I found this piece of pure gold and now keep it very-very close to me. Here is the plot in a nutshell.
A highly reputed Tantrik Govind Mahadev (Ravi Menon) is invited to a grand Haveli by Sundari (Monali Singh), the daughter of an aging and ailing Zamindar Rajaram. The old man suffers from a trauma that has left the city doctors confounded. Sundari believes that Mahadev could cure him with magical spells. Mahadev begins his ritual but is seriously distracted from his duties after he gets a glimpse of Sundari's inviting cleavage. The two soon deviate and begin quenching their physical needs until Rajaram comes to know of their liaison. Unable to bear this, Rajaram slips off the staircase and dies on spot. Mahadev finds a keen student in Sundari and decides to teach her the secrets of Black Magic that would bestow her with eternal youth. Sundari discovers that Mahadev has attained this eternal youth after sucking the energies of 13 young virgins, but the mean magician would not let Sundari find young studs for herself. Sundari kills Mahadev with a Tantrik dagger and makes Ramu, Mahadev's old disciple, her own assistant. Ramu vows to serve Sundari until death. Sundari begins preying on young males and thus begins her journey to the netherworld on her own. Babubhai, Sundari's neighbor informs Sundari's uncle Gopal (Anil Dhawan) of her wanton and wicked activities. Gopal decides to take the matter in his hands and goes to Sundari but in turn witnesses that Sundari is now an evil sorceress and that he and Babubhai can't stop her without the aid of a holy man. They take a sigh of relief, when Jeet Baba offers his help to stop Sundari's blood lust. Sundari is forcibly summoned by Jeet Baba, who then gets three 9 inch nails hammered into her head thus bringing her down to coma. Sundari's body is then prepared for cremation and is stuffed in a box, but it seems that Satan is still helping her. The scene ends showing Jeet Baba's assistants taking her coffin amidst heavy downpour and thunderstorm, but fall down in a pit that opens all by itself.
Years later, a group of unlikely archaeologists happen to excavate the area, resulting in the discovery of Sundari's coffin and similar belongings i.e. a holy book of mantras and a bottle of sacred oil. Sundari's rotting corpse is rushed to the local hospital as she still shows signs of life! The doctors soon try to expose the reason behind Sundari's sustainability but remain unsuccessful. A crippled Babubhai, now a permanent patient, warns the doctors about Sundari, but it's sure that they won't listen to him. The ambulance driver Johnny is seen blabbering about the shocking discovery of Sundari's corpse at a local tavern and is overheard by Ramu, Sundari's old and forgotten sidekick. Ramu redeems this opportunity by resurrecting Sundari once again, who is all set to exact revenge upon the sanely beings, who ever tried to stop her perilous motives. She soon begins her bloody revenge and kills Babubhai and Gopal. She also begins targeting the archaeologists in order to keep her existence a secret. We also come along with a busty reporter Seema (Poonam Dasgupta), who is on the excavation ground to pen down the incidents, but instead falls in love with a dashing young archaeologist Umesh. Umesh tries to conquer Sundari's might but she is a supernatural and shape-shifting hag who can only be defeated by the means of a mightier holy force. The question is, who will stop this vengeful crone? Is there a way out for her prime targets?
Overall, 'Chudail' is a great entertainer, with doses of Desi horror and unprecedented events. The hospital mayhem scene, where the coffin carrying Sundari makes way on its own and finally flies off, is nicely shot. Some other scenes are equally impressive, for instance, the scene where our Police officer (Prem Kumar) gives lift to a young lady in the the dark of the night, only to be astounded of her reflection in the rear view mirror, then we have a landslide scene, where a sincere archaeologist Mrs. Gupta (Rita Bhaduri) falls prey to the wrath of this abominable witch and is crushed to death under heavy stones and rubble. You must watch it once to believe my words. The cinematography is eerie and captures foggy backgrounds and silent nights in the most subtle way. The cave featured in most of the scenes is discomforting, dark and dusty and gives the feeling of an ongoing excavation. Jerry Amaldev has blended a lot of creepiness in the background music, which works finely and something that would live in the mind forever. The songs composed by Usha Khanna are hummable, but the earnest credit goes to director P. Chandrakumar, who has wisely used producer Gautam Dhariwal's money that saves 'Chudail' from oblivion. In other words, 'Chudail' is a decent horror film with a fresh and tightly woven plot, some great acting and above all a great background score and fantastic direction. This shouldn't be missed at all.
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