Khoj (The Search, 1989)

Khoj is a wonderful example of how a story idea might begin as a one-line germ in someone’s mind and then goes terribly wrong in its execution. If you are looking at how not to make a suspense thriller, please take tips from this Ramsay non-horror movie.

Plot: A man’s wife goes missing when he’s on a holiday. His search for her proves futile, but another woman enters his life claiming to be his missing wife.

Director: Keshu Ramsay

Cast: Rishi Kapoor, Naseeruddin Shah, Kimi Katkar, Danny Denzongpa, Satish Shah

#10Things That Made Me Kill Myself After Watching Khoj

  1. The extremely atrocious direction. Ramsays should not have explored the non-horror territory. In fact, there’s a fight sequence in which Naseeruddin Shah enters with a swagger and a denim jacket slung over his shoulders, held by his right hand. And he keeps holding the jacket that way during almost the entire fight! It is ridiculous to see him receiving blows, falling, hitting the walls, and holding on to the jacket all the time. Stylebhai, anyone?
  2. The absence of any logic. A man who is being chased manages to enter his house, and goes to the telephone leaving the door open behind him. There’s a dead body in a house and the next moment after discovering it, the actors begin singing an erotic song. It goes on and on.
  3. The horrible, horrible songs courtesy Bappi Lahiri. They made me cringe, the lyrics, the dances, the music, everything. The music itself is ridiculous, but the placement of songs makes it worse. Most of them are four-minute long and they come up at the most interesting scenes in the movie. And no logic here either. There’s a Marathi navra-navri bridal song in a Kathmandu wedding of a Punjabi couple.
  4. The insipid acting. Rishi Kapoor has never acted worse. Naseeruddin Shah has never acted worse. Kimi Katkar looks no better than the furniture around her. The only saving grace is Danny Denzongpa, but his character is so moronic—a blackmailing Catholic priest—that you don’t see his histrionics, whatever they might be.
  5. The stock music. This movie is a case study in that. Every scene is announced with the typical Indian cinema stock music. There something for a comedy scene, an erotic scene, a sad scene, a happy smiling child scene, and even the typical dishoom-dishoom score for the fighting scenes.
  6. Naseeruddin Shah’s Inspector character. This is singularly the worst police character I have ever seen. Never is he is in his uniform, but he sings in wedding songs. He is not shown to be working throughout the movie. In fact, he gets beaten up thrice by roadside hoodlums, despite clearly announcing he is an Inspector. It gets so funny at times. He says, “I am an Inspector,” and dishoom! He gets one on his jaw.
  7. The scripting. The script could have been so much better. A thriller should be tight, but this one just goes on and on, the same thing occurring over and over again.
  8. The clichés. Most of the Indian cinema clichés are there. A fat person eating voraciously, a precocious child who gets a doll as a gift. At times, you can spot them coming from a distance.
  9. The editing. This movie could have been so much better with half the screen time. They should have started by chopping all those songs first.
  10. The post-climax. Yes, there’s one. After you know the suspense, which in itself is good, there is a ten-minute scene in which the criminal tells to a teary-eyed court why he did what he did. And he emerges the hero! The justification is stupid, moronic, and abrogates the whole point of the movie. Don’t watch this one; I suffered it already on behalf of humankind.

 In conclusion: Watch this movie for the sheer fun of it! It is going to achieve cult status soon, maybe become another Gunda any day now.

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