Apr 22, 2023

The Shark Usurped My Peter

Prem Lalwani & Desh Mukherjee (1996)
The Mahoning Drive-In Theater stays engaged with fans over the winter through their Patreon.  One part of this that I especially look forward to is their monthly streaming of a rare and obscure film from the American Genre Film Archive.  The movie that we watched on Thursday was Aatank, which is an Indian Sharksploitation flick that was filmed over 10+ years, and it's bizarre to the point of defying description.

This is what the AGFA website has to say about this cinematic adventure:

I'm not sure if I'd go as far as to call this movie "The Bollywood Jaws" because the shark doesn't appear until at least the halfway point.  The first half of its runtime doesn't even mention sharks or shark attacks.  In fact, the closest it gets to the ocean at all is when a fishing community have to defend their catch from a local gang led by the evil and powerful crime boss, Alphonso.  This is just one of several stories that are happening at the same time.  Some of these plots end up going somewhere, and some don't, but there's plenty of singing, dancing, and other wackiness throughout.

When the shark finally does show up, it really shows up.  A newlywed bride who plays the Chrissie Watkins of this film is performing a song and dance to tease her new husband into chasing after her.  This chase takes the young woman into the ocean where she becomes the shark's first victim.

The shark goes on to devour other members of the community, including a young man named Peter who is like a brother to the hero of our story, Jesu.  Upon learning of Peter's death, Jesu's anguish led to one of the greatest subtitles that I have ever seen.

I hate it when that happens.

We're coming up on the Opening Weekend for the Mahoning Drive-In Theater.  This coming Thursday, they're hosting a private screening on the lot for Patreon members, followed by their traditional double feature on Friday and Saturday of The Wizard Of Oz and Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory to kick off the 2023 season.  Opening Weekend wraps up on Sunday with a bizarre 1993 Alex Winter movie that I've wanted to see for many years: Freaked.

It's already shaping up to be a hell of a good season!