Unless I'm forgetting something, this is the first Bollywood horror film I've ever seen, although I did catch and love the maniacal sci-fi epic ENDHIRAN (ROBOT) last year. And I'm pleased to report that, though PURANA MANDIR doesn't maintain the consistent level of nutso-cuckooery of that film, its highs are as high as ROBOT on maybe a twentieth of the budget. And there are surprises!
Like that a film produced in an essentially conservative culture like India's would be so rife with fun sleaze. And fun colloquial exchanges, like that one down there.
It was not shocking that this is festooned with chipper song and dance numbers, nor that it has a bloated, sprawling running time. And, to be honest, it does drag a little as you wind your way down to 144 or so minutes. But, thank Shiva, the movie is constantly throwing new things at you to keep the boggy parts from being so boggy. Oh yeah, it has a plot, too.
So lower-class Sanjay is deeply in love with upper-class Suman. But there is a bigger problem than financial inequity, because Suman's family has been afflicted with the curse of death-in-childbirth by the monstrous Samri, who was executed by Suman's ancestor for assorted crimes. So Suman, Sanjay, and their buddies set off on a road trip to prove this a superstition only to discover that it isn't and also Samri is now a legitimate monster, sort of like a vampire, I guess.
Along the way, they encounter apparently primitive tribes who specialize in low comedy and adherents of Kali. And there is a dance number during a blood sacrifice. And a comic relief sexual assaulter. And a "jungle slut", as Suman observes.
Don't enter expecting a gorefest. PURANA MANDIR seems more about lots of light entertainment and fun than any serious bloodletting or heavy messages. It's pop cinema, man. And there's nothing wrong with that.
I think I might actually make 31 this month after all, even if I end up feeling like this on the inside...