Mahakaal: The Bollywoodisation of Hollywood Concepts

Mahakaal is a Ramsay Bollywood Horror Movie that was distinctly different than their previous offerings, like Veerana and Bandh Darwaza

Name of MovieMahakaal
CastKaran Shah, Archana Puran Singh, Kunika, Johnny Lever, Kulbushan Kharbanda, Baby Shwati, Reema Lagoo
DirectorTulsi Ramsay and Shyam Ramsay
Associate DirectorsSunil Ramsay, Deepak Ramsay, Pappu Trivedi, Shashi Ramsay
ProducerGangu Ramsay
Release Date1994

Mahakaal was a heavy rip-off of Nightmare on Elm Street. While the latter has had a bunch of movies and even a complete reboot, Mahakaal has gone down in history as another cheap Ramsay Bollywood horror movie.

Mahakaal released in 1993,  a decade when the Ramsays had decided to move away from their brand of movie-making. After the iconic Bollywood horror movie Bandh Darwaza, the Ramsays toned down on the fog machine, the vivid color tones to denote the demon was gone too. But were the audiences happy with this? That, we’ll have to ask someone who went to watch these movies in the theaters.

Mahakaal Synopsis:

Anita, Seema, Prakash, and a bunch of other young men and women go to the same college. Seema dreams that a demon is trying to kill her.  When she wakes up, she sees a  claw mark on her arm. She can only confide in her friend, Anita. Anita laughs off Seema’s experience.

But Seema shows Anita the claw mark, and since then, Anita is disturbed by Seema’s experience as well. That night, Anita has a dream, that her dead sister, Mohini is calling her. In the dream, Mohini takes her to an old warehouse, and she is attacked by a demon with metal claws.

She wakes up, shrieking, but her parents say that she has just had a bad dream. However, when Anita checks, she has a claw mark as Seema did. The next day, Anita is still distraught, when a couple of college boys harass her.

Anita tells them off, and that starts a fight between her boyfriend, Prakash, and the college hoodlums. The Principal breaks up the fight and punishes the college hoodlums. Anita, Prakash, Seema, and Mayur decide to go on a picnic.

While returning from the picnic, their car breaks down, and they have no option but to spend the night in a guest house. In the guest house, a mysterious demon attacks Seema, and her boyfriend, Mayur is the main suspect.

Anita’s father, the Commissioner is livid because his daughter has spent a night with her boyfriend and is hellbent on arresting Mayur for the murder. He gets the chance when Mayur comes to visit Anita in the college.

Though Mayur is arrested, he is killed in prison and that’s when the Commissioner thinks that something is amiss. He finally confesses to his family. Years ago, he was pursuing a child murderer.

The murderer, Shakal, had kidnapped his daughter. Before he could reach Shakal’s hideout, Shakal had killed Mohini. In a rage, the Commissioner killed Shakal and buried him alive. However, years later, one of Shakal’s claws reached his house.

Watch Mahakaal On YouTube:

After this revelation, Prakash and the Commissioner go to the place where he had buried Shakal, but find nothing there. Instead, the whole place starts blowing up. When they return, Anita has another ghostly experience.

A Baba tells them that Shakal is a supernatural power whose strength is increasing day by day. The Baba tells them that only the Commissioner can do something about this. He tells them that the only way to defeat Shakal is by cutting off his body parts, one by one.

Shakal continues haunting Anita and one day possesses her completely. Anita goes out of the house and kills the college bully, after seducing him. She comes to her senses the next day, but by then, it is too late.

Shakal has regenerated. His first port of call is Anita’s house. He kidnaps her and plans to sacrifice her. The Commissioner and Prakash reach Shakal’s hideout. What follows is a fight between Prakash, the Commissioner, and Shakal.

Finally,  Prakash and Anita succeed in defeating Shakal by first cutting off his legs and then pulling him under a bed of thorns.

Mahakaal Review

Mahakaal released in 1993, and by the looks of the movie, it seems that the censors had opened up a lot in the past decade. Also, in the new decade, the Ramsays were no longer using the fog lights and the darkness to hide the face of their demon characters.

Unlike in Veerana, where we have only a couple of looks at the demon, Mahakaal has several sequences where Shakal, the villain is visible. This also one of the few movies where the villain’s prowess is shown. Like in Tahkhana, where Puneet Issar’s Anand had to die to show how powerful the villain was, here, there’s an extended climax to show us that.

I think this is the most cited movie when it comes to accusing the Ramsays of copying Hollywood. Yes, there are several similarities to the slasher flick Nightmare on Elm Street, but the Ramsays were smart enough to Indianise the concept.

So, instead of a person who only lives in the dreams, Shakal is a child killer and sacrificer who becomes an entity who haunts the dreams until he can become strong enough to come into the real world.

There are a lot many changes in production as well. The dialogue writer is different, the fights are by a different person this time. But the most important change is the story writer. Mahakaal is not the brainchild of J K Ahuja, who earlier gave such classics like Veerana and Purana Mandir.

Y V Tyagi writes the story and the screenplay for Mahakaal. Interestingly, according to his IMDb page, this is the only movie that he has ever written a script for. When it comes to the script too, there’s a lot of copying going on.

The screenplay aspect of an accused trying to meet one of the girls and being arrested by the police has been done before in a Bollywood horror movie. So has the concept of snakes killing the accused in the prison. So, there’s no point arguing that the Ramsays made an original movie.

Instead, it makes sense to understand that the Ramsays were making some serious changes in their production unit for whatever reasons. By the 1990s, they had done away collaborations with the likes of Deepak Parashar, Javed Khan, Hemant Birje, Sahila Chadha, and Aarti Agarwal.

Young, new names like Karan Shah, Archana Puran Singh, Kunika, and Johnny Lever were now becoming the mainstays of the Ramsays movies. Even the concepts of the typical Bollywood horror movie were changing. In Mahakaal, we don’t see a Thakur or a Mansion at all. That changed, and so did Bollywood horror movies.

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About Roy D'Silva 483 Articles
Roy D'Silva loves nicely made horror films,books and series. He has spent a lifetime covering various entertainment beats and has finally found his calling covering the paranormal/supernatural/horror fiction beat.