Review: ‘1920: Horrors of the Heart,’ starring Avika Gor, Rahul Dev, Barkha Bisht, Danish Pandor and Ketaki Kulkarni

July 2, 2023

by Carla Hay

Ketaki Kulkarni and Avika Gor in “1920: Horrors of the Heart” (Photo courtesy of Anan Pandit Motion Pictures)

“1920: Horrors of the Heart”

Directed by Krishna Bhatt

Hindi with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place in 1920, in an unnamed city in India, the horror film “1920: Horrors of the Heart” features an Indian cast of characters representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.

Culture Clash: After her father commits suicide and becomes a ghost, a 21-year-old woman communicates with his spirit, and he urges her to get revenge on his ex-wife, whom he says abandoned the family to marry a rich man.

Culture Audience: “1920: Horrors of the Heart” will appeal primarily to people who don’t mind watching a horror with bad acting, a flimsy plot and tacky visual effects.

Barkha Bisht in “1920: Horrors of the Heart” (Photo courtesy of Anan Pandit Motion Pictures)

The horror flick “1920: Horrors of the Heart” is the type of movie that tries to be frightening, but everything about it is so shoddily made, viewers might ends up laughing or wincing at this awful film. This ghostly revenge movie starts off with a weak story and bad acting. It gets worse when it turns into a poorly made imitation of the 1973 horror classic “The Exorcist.”

Directed by Krishna Bhatt, “1920: Horrors of the Heart” is the fifth movie in the “1920” horror movie series conceived by Bhatt. What all of the movies have in common is that they take place in the early 1920s and are about vengeful ghosts who haunt living beings. There’s no real connection between “1920: Horrors of the Heart” and the previous movies in the series. In fact, there’s no connection to good filmmaking at all in “1920: Horrors of the Heart,” whose sloppy screenplay was written by Mahesh Bhatt and Suhrita Das.

“1920: Horrors of Heart” (which takes place in 1920) begins by showing a 21-year-old woman named Meghna (played by Avika Gor) in a conversation with her boyfriend Arjun (played by Danish Pandor) while they are outside of Meghna’s house, where she lives with her father. Suddenly, Meghna is frantically summoned inside the house by a servant. To Meghna’s shock, she sees her father Dheeraj (played by Randheer Rai) hanging from a noose in an apparent suicide.

At the funeral for her father, she is about to pour holy water on his corpse, but the vial burns her hand. There will be more supernatural occurrences surrounding Dheeraj’s death when his spirit eventually appears to her while she’s awake and while she’s sleeping. After the funeral, Meghna finds a secret diary that Dheeraj kept. What she finds out in the journal will change the course of her life.

Meghna’s parents got divorced when she was too young to understand what happened to their marriage. Meghna has been told that her mother Radhika abandoned the family, but Dheeraj was vague with Meghna on why this abandonment happened. In the diary, Dheeraj wrote that Radhika was frustrated that he wasn’t making enough money as a struggling writer.

According to what Dheeraj wrote in the diary, Radhika began having affairs with wealthy British men for their money. Dheeraj also alleges in the diary that Radhika tried to poison him, but it didn’t work. Radhika eventually left the family and put Meghna in an orphanage, but Dheeraj was able to get Meghna out of the orphanage and regained custody of her. Radhika has not been in contact with the family ever since.

Soon after finding out this information, Meghna starts getting haunted by the ghost of Dheeraj, who looks like a bellowing wraith with terrible effects. Dheeraj tells her that in order to honor him, she has to get revenge on Radhika, who is now married to a wealthy businessman named Shantanu Thakur. Radhika and Shantanu have a teenage daughter named Aditi (played by Ketaki Kulkarni), who is pampered and spoiled, but she’s overall a good kid.

Meghna tells Arjun that she’s going to Radhika’s home to get revenge on her dead father’s behalf. Arjun thinks it’s a terrible idea and urges her not to go. Arjun wants Meghna to go to Bombay with him. He gives her 24 hours to decide what to do.

The next thing you know, Meghna shows up unannounced at the mansion where Radhika, Shantanu and Aditi live in a dark and isolated area. And the day that Meghna goes to the mansion happens to be Aditi’s 16th birthday. Meghna doesn’t see Radhika right away, but she explains to Shantanu who she is and tells him that her father has committed suicide. Shantanu, who is friendly and welcoming, has no idea that Meghna is there for revenge.

The Thakur family has a loyal servant named Mr. Chaudhry (played by Avtar Gill), who is a combination of a butler and a nanny. Even though Aditi is 16 years old, she still sleeps with a doll in her bed. The doll, which is named Alice, is a little creepy, like she’s a cleaned-up version of the Annabelle doll from “The Conjuring” Universe.

Soon after arriving in the house, Meghna and Radhika cross paths. Radhika is shocked to see Meghna there, but she doesn’t say anything. Keep that in mind when there’s a certain plot twist revealed later in the movie. Radhika is somewhat cold and distant to Meghna, who has been invited by the friendly Shantanu to stay at the house.

Meghna starts to become jealous of Aditi when Meghna sees that Radhika is a loving and attentive mother to Aditi. One night, Meghna is in the hallway outside Aditi’s bedroom. Meghna eavesdrops and sees Radhika tucking Aditi into bed and telling Aditi: “You are my one and only princess.”

Meghna secretly becomes enraged with what she sees as Radhika’s hypocrisy of being emotionally aloof with Meghna and very affectionate with Aditi. This jealousy fuels Meghna’s rage, and she vows to follow through with the revenge plot. Meanwhile, Radhika starts to have nightmares that Dheeraj is out to get her.

Meghna becomes even angrier when she tells Adita that they are half-sisters, and Aditi says that Radhika never mentioned having another child. Aditi tries to become Meghna’s friend, but Meghna is rude to Aditi and treats her like a pest. Eventually, Meghna feels a lttle bad for how she’s mistreated Aditi and starts to become a little friendlier to her.

But things aren’t so friendly between Aditi and Meghna when viewers see what happens next. As already shown in the trailer for “1920: Horrors of the Heart,” Meghna follows her dead father’s instructions to scatter some ashes in Aditi’s bed while Aditi is sleeping. Aditi then becomes possessed by the ghost of Dheeraj, including having a stereotypical lower, distorted voice. And then, “The Exorcist” ripoff part of the movie begins.

There are so many clues pointing to the plot twist that’s revealed in the last third of the movie, by the time this “reveal” happens, it’s not very shocking. Arjun inexplicably shows up in certain scenes and then disappears, only to show up again with no explanation. And even though this movie is supposed to take place in 1920, the costume designs and hairstyles don’t look realistic to the time period. “1920: Horrors the Heart” is only horrifying if viewers think about the time that gets wasted when watching this insipid abomination of a movie.

Anand Pandit Motion Pictures released “1920: Horrors of the Heart” in select U.S. cinemas and in India on June 23, 2023.

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