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regular-article-logo Friday, 19 July 2024

Hail Horror

The titular character of Munjya is not even a flesh-and-blood actor but a computer-generated one like ET

Bharathi S. Pradhan Published 16.06.24, 08:00 AM

In a five-month period marked by the collapse of names that range from Hrithik Roshan, Ajay Devgn and Akshay Kumar to Katrina Kaif, Tiger Shroff and Rajkummar Rao, a small horror-comedy with zero face value, a distinct regional flavour and a strange title has caught the fancy of the audience. In fact, the makers of Munjya (a deadly monster from the folklore of a coastal strip in Maharashtra) consciously decided not to promote their film because they had no big names to sell. Director Aditya Sarpotdar too is known only in Marathi film circles after successfully making wacky movies like Zombivli, which was about a zombie in Dombivli. But it gave a glimpse of the same humour-and-horror mix that has turned Munjya into the unexpected winner.

The titular character of Munjya is not even a flesh-and-blood actor but a computer-generated one like ET. Except that ET was endearing, Munjya is evil. Yet, it’s poised to easily cross its budget of 35 crore. Backed by producer Dinesh Vijan and Amar Kaushik, who directed the 2018 horror-comedy Stree, a new universe may be in the making. Because Munjya ends curiously with a comic scene featuring Varun Dhawan and Abhishek Banerjee, two actors who were seen in Vijan’s Bhediya (2022), also a horror film. With the production house’s plans to revive Stree in theatres, there seems to be a Munjya-Stree-Bhediya cocktail being blended. So, while Aditya Chopra has kicked off a spy universe (Tiger, Pathaan, War), Rohit Shetty has his cop universe of Singham, Simmba, Suryavanshi and Karan Johar unsuccessfully attempted an “astra verse” with Brahmastra, a less publicised producer like Vijan seems to be creating a horror-comedy universe.

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Meanwhile, the unputdownable Karan Johar is invested in Kill, the blood-and-gore fest with which he wants to go global. For the trailer launch, he topped the PR messages by personally inviting friends in the media and later thanking them too for coming, before he took a flight to New York to show Kill at the Tribeca Film Festival. All these years, one wondered if a superhero like Krrish or a colourful mythological hero would break into the international market. Strange that a violent film, coming from a producer who likes songs, romances and designer wear is going to be India’s first international step. Guneet Monga, the co-producer, has already made an entry in the West with the Oscar-winning Elephant Whisperers — a documentary far removed from the unrelenting violence that marks Kill.

Karan is also bullishly lavishing attention on hero Lakshya. There are many elements crisscrossing, like astral coinciden-
ces. Lakshya is the hero who was to be introduced in Dostana 2, the film that had to be shelved when Kartik Aaryan dropped out after shooting for more than 30 days. Kartik, who was to be Jahnvi Kapoor’s hero in Karan’s other film Mr. & Mrs. Mahi, was promptly cancelled and replaced by Rajkummar Rao. Three years later, in the same month of June, Mr. & Mrs. Mahi was released, the global promotions of Lakshya’s other film took off and Kartik’s challenging biopic Chandu Champion has reached theatres. Playing a Paralympics gold medallist under Kabir Khan’s direction is a far more prestigious assignment for Kartik than any fictional role.

On Thursday, despite the stay on son Junaid’s debut Maharaj, Aamir Khan was ebullient. Mom Zeenat turned 90. Aamir invited close family friends and relatives to party with his mother who has made it to a landmark birthday after successfully battling the dreaded C. Few know that Aamir had quietly sent her on his private plane to Chennai to heal. After she cast her vote in Mumbai, he flew her and his sister to his bungalow in Panchgani, for much needed rest and recuperation. This is a role he plays with trademark perfection.

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