Stolen from The Voice
Original article by Ahmed Rushdie
Several months ago, after watching Amjad “Amjay” Ibrahim’s so-called “horror movie” Guest House: Room 201 at Olympus cinema, I thought to myself that the main problem with the movie – other than the atrocious directing and numerous technical failures – was that the story was… well to put it bluntly, plain stupid. It occurred to me that if Amjay had come up with a good and interesting story, it was possible that he could have made a movie that was something you could suffer through without having the overwhelming urge to stab your own eyes with a blunt toothpick.
That was before I saw his next movie: Udhabaani.
To be fair, I never read the book the movie was supposedly based on and after watching the movie any interest I might have had in reading said book quickly evaporated. However, after watching Udhabaani, I concluded once again that the problem here, too, was the story: it was just too idiotic. It never occurred to me then that the real problem was with how the story had been adapted into a screenplay. After all, there is a reason why Oscars are handed out to adapted screenplays in addition to original screenplays. They are both entirely different beasts and it takes a lot of talent and effort to tame either of them.
This then brings us to Baaraige Fas (After Midnight), Amjay’s latest attempt at dabbling in movies while his true calling for god-only-knows-what once again sails away into the mists of uncertainty. Even the name of the movie conjures up sleazy images of things you wouldn’t want to discuss in polite company and, sadly enough, the movie actually delivers in this regard as Baaraige Fas is the kind of er… thing you wouldn’t want to discuss in polite company, or any other kind of company for that matter. And especially not in the presence of any flowering plants – but we’ll get to that later.
When I heard that the movie was based on a story written by Binma Ibrahim Waheed, arguably the most popular author in the country at the moment, I actually, for a fleeting moment, had a slight hope that this could very well be the turning point in Amjay’s career. It sure was a short-lived thought.
Unlike most of Amjay’s movies, Baaraige Fas doesn’t begin with a totally irrelevant dance and song number. If you can survive that shock then you can probably survive the mind-numbingly boring six or so hours that follows. Did I say six hours? It might have been seven.
In ads and posters, the movie was promoted as a dark and atmospheric horror-movie but until that opening shot you really have no idea just how dark the movie would be. A large percentage of the scenes in the movie take place during night and a lot are shot inside darkened rooms. Piecing together what happens during these scenes would have taxed even Sherlock Holmes as it’s so dark the only thing you can see are eyeballs looking this way and that, or the occasional sparkle off someone’s teeth. Sometimes it felt like I was watching a Bugs Bunny cartoon where Bugs had lured Yosemite Sam into a lion cage and blown out his torch.
The short prologue before the opening credits accomplishes two things. It introduces us to the main characters – Nisha and her dad – and their diabolical and ridiculous late-night snack arrangement. The second thing it does is give the audience a subtle hint that the rest of the movie isn’t going to make much sense either.
In case it wasn’t obvious from the posters, Baariage Fas is a vampire movie, and the part of the temptress vampire is played by one of the most popular actresses in local movie history, Mariyam Nisha. For a comeback performance, I’m not sure if this particular role was what her fans had been expecting.
As the movie progresses, you realize that even though some of the things about the movie are very clear cut and conform to what is seen in most vampire movies, there are some things that just don’t make any sense. Since she’s a vampire it’s obvious she will drink blood but the movie never explains why she developed such a tacky sense of décor or why she sleeps in a room which has a huge horror-themed poster covering the entire wall behind her satin covered bed. The poster has dark apocalyptic clouds, lightning, sinister looking trees, and a disembodied hand thrusting up through the ground for no other reason than it looks extremely lame. My guess is that the poster is there for the benefit of those in the audience who has acute uptake-grasping deficiency and aren’t able to figure out immediately that they are watching a horror movie. Did I mention said bedroom is draped entirely in red diaphanous bed sheets and flimsy curtains?
Nisha’s origin story kicks in halfway through the movie, so all through the first half of the movie I had imagined that the story adhered to the usual vampire mythos; that Nisha must have been turned into a vampire by another vampire and that she possessed a variety of supernatural powers that would give her several advantages, both physically and mentally, over her intended victims. Colour me wrong on that assumption.
As far as I can tell from the movie, Nisha’s character was conceived by floral insemination.
Don’t bother reading that last sentence again, you read it correctly the first time and it won’t make any sense even if you read it a third time. Just go with me on this.
Nisha’s mother is your average barren housewife who has been married several years but has been unable to conceive a child with her husband. One fine night, as she’s dolling up to go out with her hubby to paint the town a few coats of crimson, she takes a moment to stop and smell the flowers in the garden. More specifically, she stops to smell a rose. As luck would have it, this was no ordinary rose. This specific rose perhaps was the floral equivalent to a convicted serial-rapist that had downed a cocktail of various steroids and Viagra.
Overcome by desire, possibly by the extreme proximity of the mother’s nostrils to its petals, the rose jumps her and, judging by the aftermath, repeatedly has its way with her without even a by-your-leave. Meanwhile, the husband notices that his wife is late and goes to investigate, only to find a thoroughly ravished future-mom smiling vacantly into space and spread-eagled on their bed. Rose petals litter the bed and the tangled, twisted bedsheets speak volumes of the passions of epic proportions unleashed there just moments before. Even though they didn’t show it in the movie, I suspect the amorous rose was casually smoking a cigarette right outside the bedroom door and just being awesome.
A short montage later Nisha is born and predictably she’s… different. For one thing she doesn’t want to drink milk but prefers blood. I could have understood it if she had craved water instead of milk – I mean plants need water after all – but blood? And unlike her um… biological father, Nisha develops an aversion to sunlight. Although it wasn’t depicted in the movie, it’s not too far-fetched to imagine that Nisha was also bitten by a radioactive John Travolta, Zack Efron or Govinda, which would explain why she also has the uncanny superpower to burst into song and drag her potential victim into an associated dance sequence. She also develops one other superpower: the amazing ability to laugh maniacally while her dad bops her potential victims, who she’s lured into the X-marks-the-spot position with the aforementioned song and dance number, on the head to incapacitate them. Last but not least, Nisha also has the innate ability to bring her sickly and aging father under her thrall, essentially turning him into a mindless zombie who wards off anyone who attempts to see or meet her during the day as she sleeps off a wild and hectic night, incapacitates her victims while she herself is indulging in uncontrollable fits of laughter at the very idea of being able to drink their blood, and cleans up her bloody mess afterwards.
A special mention should be made about Nisha’s ‘transformation’. Hollywood vampires usually look just like normal humans at first glance, except maybe a bit paler than most, but when it’s time to feed they go through some physical changes that will leave no doubt in anyone’s mind about their true nature. In majority of these transformations, out come the fangs or the trademark elongated canine teeth. The fangs come in handy for tearing out an exposed throat or wrist and is one of the most important weapons in any self respecting vampire’s arsenal. In Nisha’s case, however, indubitably owing to her unorthodox origin, instead of the classic fangs she sprouts something that can only be described as inverted tusks, not unlike the extra-long maxillary canines found on the extinct Smilodon, or sabre-toothed tiger. The only way she could hurt anyone with those things would be if she ran face-first into her victim and gored them somehow. As it is, she would probably stab herself in the chest with her own teeth if someone pointed near her feet and cried “Look! A gecko!”
The movie’s plot, or lack of same, is simple. Female vampire, with the assistance of her father and some killer (har har) dance moves, kills her friends and drinks their blood until intrepid reporter and love interest figures out the truth and decides to kill her. At which point the vampire decides to save him the trouble of killing her and exposes herself to... wait for it… moonlight! Yeah, you read that right: exposing herself to the moonlight turns her into… well, I suppose ‘dust’ would be the word but that’s really pushing the definition as the effect used for the shot was so lame it deserves special recognition in the Most Anachronistic Visual Effect Ever Made category. Of course, by the time this happens you’re hardly expecting anything in the movie to make sense so you just go with it and release a heartfelt sigh that the accursed thing had finally ended.
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