Prolific director, producer and story, dialogue and screenplay writer, Kishan Shah is known for directing more than 30 films of the B- and C-grade category, including Police Lock-Up (1995), Murdaa (1998), Tan Aggan (1999), Heerabai (2000) and Malkin (2001). Most of his films are action-thrillers revolving around the themes of rape, violence and revenge; he also directed films of the horror genre. Known for churning out films in quick succession, for instance in 1999 he directed no less than five films, while the year 2000 saw him direct nine films. He is the older brother of Kanti Shah, who is regarded as the pulp movie legend; they are reportedly estranged.
He debuted as director with Police Lock-Up in 1995. An action-crime drama, it starred Mukesh Khanna, Sriprada, Sadashiv Amrapurkar, Firoz Irani, Sameer Kakkar and others. The film depicted a clash between a police inspector who believes in third degree treatment for criminals while his lawyer friend believes that criminals should be reformed by more humane measures.
Four years later, he directed School Girl (1999), a drama film revolving around the lead character, Rani who goes to a boarding school. One day she misses her lessons because of a movie shoot. She is noticed by the producer of the film, who predicts she might become a star. But first she has to undergo a photo session and a screen test. She is lured into the flesh trade by a gang and she is also blackmailed into finding other girls. Another girl who is lured commits suicide and her friend discovers the truth and exposes the gang with the help of her friend. The cast featured Aparna, Raj Premi and Jyoti Rana, among others.
The same year, he directed the horror film Chamunda (1999) starring Satnam Kaur, Anil Nagrath and Raj Premi. The film depicted the crazed Samri who kills the daughter of the land’s ruler, Pratap Singh, and is sentenced to death by beheading. Generations later, Samri’s ghost returns in search of its decapitated head and vows vengeance on the descendants of Pratap Singh.
His Tan Aggan (1999) was a drama thriller starring Reetu, Barkha and Raj Premi. It told the tale of Rekha, a young woman who comes to Mumbai on getting a job as a journalist. Jimmy, a pimp, cons her and asks her to accompany him to his house. He drugs Rekha and sells her to a client. Rekha murders Jimmy and escapes to her friend's house. She meets inspector Vijay, her lover. Rekha joins a leading newspaper as an investigative journalist. During one of her investigations in a hotel, she stumbles upon another pimp and murders him too. She soon murders more pimps. The film follows whether the police are able to nab Rekha for this series of killings.
The year 2001 saw him direct Junglee Tarzan, an actioner which told the story of a group of hunters who come into a dense forest to recover a hidden treasure. Dacoit Aiappan captures this forest and is also searching for the valuable treasures. A jungle woman Bela confronts and restrains them from doing further wrong. The same year, he also directed Bistar, a thriller starring Hemant Birje and Poonam Dasgupta; the horror film Tahkhana featuring Hemant Birje, Amit Kapoor and Birbal; and the drama-thriller Malkin starring Hemant Birje, Satnam Kaur and Ali Khan.
In 2002, he directed the duplicate of leading actor Sunny Deol in Return of Gadar-Ek Desh Premi; the thriller Garibon Ka Daata; and Aag Ka Gola featuring Junior Amitabh Bachchan, Junior Mithun Chakraborthy, Junior Sanjay Dutt and Junior Govinda.
The following year, he directed Hemant Birje, Pinky Chinoy and Mohan Joshi in Bhoot Ke Peeche Bhoot (2003). The same year, he also directed Maut Ke Peeche Maut; the thriller Tawaaif starring Satnam Kaur, Ali Khan and Amit Pachori; the drama-thriller Kora Badan; and Gori Aur Kaali, revolving around twin sisters – one fair-skinned and the other, dark-complexioned, who are against each other but finally unite for a common cause.
Bhoot Mahal, the horror film he directed in 2004, featured Ramesh Goyal, Satnam Kaur and Ali Khan. The same year he also directed Jungle Lioness, Naag Mani, Pyaasi Nagin, and Khalnayak – an actioner depicting women who fight against law and the system.
In 2005, he directed the drama film Bhookh: The Hunger of Body; Munnibhai BA BCom starring Vishwajeet Soni, Monica Tripathi and Vinod Tripathi; and the drama film 2 Piece featuring Ramesh Goyal, Satnam Kaur and Anil Nagrath.
He also penned the screenplay for Maut Ke Peeche Maut, Heerabai, and Tan Aggan, and produced Main Hoon Geeta (1990), Garibon Ka Daata (2002), Malkin and Police Lock-up. His directorials include Phool Bani Phoolan (1999) and Daku Sultana (2000).
Despite directing several films, not many of Kishan Shah’s films proved to be successful at the box office. In comparison, his estranged younger brother, the pulp movie legend Kanti Shah, has directed several hits including the 1998 pulp classic Gunda, starring Mithun Chakraborty. The enormous success of his brother is reportedly a sore point with Kishan Shah.
The unscripted series, Cinema Marte Dum Tak (2023), which presents behind-the-scenes with four exceptionally passionate directors of the 1990’s pulp cinema industry, also featured Kishan Shah.
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