Purana Mandir (Hindi: “Old Temple”) is a 1984 Indian Bollywood horror film, produced and directed by the Ramsay brothers, Tulsi and Shyam from a screenplay by Kumar Ramsay. It stars Aarti Gupta, Mohnish Bahl and Puneet Issar.
Two hundred years ago, a royal procession of Raja Harimansingh of the sultanate of Bijapur, stranded near the Kali Pahari (literally, black mountain). The Raja is concerned because his daughter Princess Rupali has disappeared near the lair of the devil-worshipper Samri (Ajay Agarwal). The princess wanders into the ruins of an old fortress and is promptly captured and tortured by the villainous Samri. His trademark attack is mesmerizing the hapless victim apparently sucking out their life force through the eyes, causing their natural eyes to be replaced with demonic white shades. During this process, Samri’s eyes gleam blood red. Raja Harimansingh catches Samri in this terrible act and orders the soldiers to capture him.
Samri is put on trial, where his terrible litany of crimes is read. He has performed various heinous acts to please his demonic spirit masters and enhance his own evil powers. He has raped and disembowelled newly-wed brides; he has mutilated and cannibalized young children; he has — it shocks the crier as he reads out this charge — exhumed corpses for sacrifice and eating, and he has terrorized the hamlets surrounding Bijapur with his reign of evil…
‘There’s a real sense of isolation there. To my foreign eyes, it’s exotic, alluring and dangerous. I can’t discredit the fact that at times Purana Mandir is legitimately creepy. All humor and dancing aside, the atmosphere is really something and for the Ramsay brothers first serious attempt at horror, they did a damn fine job and most importantly, they gave India a monster. Samri.’ Atomic Caravan
‘The bad guy is played by the actor Ajay Agarwal who is menacing and creepy at the same time without ever looking to silly. The film brilliantly mixes comedy and horror. The plot is engaging and interesting throughout. This one has it all hand to hand action, sword fighting, dancing, singing and a girl taking a shower in her bathing suit while the water turns to blood. Overall Purana Mandir is one of best Bollywood horror films as it flawlessly mixes all the various elements from different genres into one cohesive epic for the ages.’ Michael Den Boer, 10k Bullets
‘Purana Mandir is imbued with a grimy salaciousness that just does not quit. We’re treated to many scenes of Aarti Gupta in her bathing suit, and a lengthy shower scene (in said bathing suit of course). The camera spends so much time zooming right up on female anatomy that you’d think you were watching a Japanese game show. Sanjay is introduced snapping sexy shots of Suman, and Sapna fantasizes about Anand in a scene that is just shy of crossing the line. The plot also tends to wander, in fairly typical Indian fashion…
Agarwal’s Saamri is like a hairy force of nature, storming out of the forest to brutally attack the unlucky. The Ramsays make excellent use of their creation, shrouding him in darkness and fog. While much of Purana Mandir has taken on a comical air over the intervening years, Saamri remains an effective and diabolical creation.’ Cinema Strikes Back
Image credits: Atomic Caravan