Old Hindi horror films – Scary, amusing or farcical?
As a kid I remember how I loved watching Bollywood horror movies (and perhaps, most of us do). Although in my case watching a horror film had its own downsides and one of those was that after watching a film I would insist on sleeping with the lights on for nights together. Yet, I always looked forward to watching a horror film again.
Today as a grown up girl, when I look back at my fondness for such films, I laugh at the fact that all those scary movies managed to scare me despite not being <i>really</i> scary! Take the typical case of Ramsay Brothers, who churned out average, bad and worse films throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s. No doubt, the Ramsay Brothers had a fetish for the horror genre and if you have the nerve to watch their movies, it won’t take long to identify a few things common in <i>their</i> kind of cinema. Case in point: The legendary production house always named their movies like ‘Veerana’, ‘Purana Mandir’, ‘Purani Haveli’, ‘Guest House’, ‘Tahkhana’, thus making me wonder if they had a love affair with the theme of harrowed establishments.
The same goes with their films’ storyline. A gang of friends comprising a B-grade actor and actress, Satish Shah (a must have to throw some slapstick humour!) and sundry side actors plan a trip to a weird town. And guess what, they are not able to settle for any place better than that haunted <i>haveli</i> or whatever for their holiday stay. Notwithstanding the warning of a zombie-like old man who guards the mansion, the merrymaking gang invokes the <i>shaitan</i> that lay rested under Christ’s cross. No marks for guessing that the action results in the devil going out on a rampage, killing the extras residing in the mansion and scaring the lead actors. Only Lord Shiva’s <i>trishul</i> from the nearby temple saves them from the deadly paws of the demon. Oh and did I mention the role of that lascivious villain who was in charge of the rape attacks on the heroine?
Funnily, while I did get scared of those films back then, there were some points that I could never digest. First, why on earth did the ghost always appear to scare or kill when a couple was on the verge of making love or when the heroine was taking a bath? Do ghosts have an aversion towards sex and sexy beings? Moving on to the second hiccup, when the said group is warned about the supernatural presence in the house, why don’t they vacate the premises and run for their life? Instead, they continue to dwell there mindlessly. Perhaps then they deserve to be killed by the ghost at the end of the film for such utter stupidity, no?
Though films like ‘Gehrayee’ did handle the horror genre in an effective way, yet I still agree that no matter what, Ramsay films still carry a certain charm and nostalgia and yes, they are unique in their own way.
Cut to the year 2012, thanks to the changing Hindi cinema, now prosthetics lend a convincing look to the ‘ghost’ in horror movies and technological advances such as the use of special effects take care of the rest. So now, there are no more expressionless ghosts with a plastered face that looked more amusing than frightening. It is good to see that movie makers are fearlessly taking steps forward to scare the audience in an exceptional and realistic ways and the viewers too are happy in lapping up the new surprises offered to them.
That’s why we have films like ‘Bhoot’, ‘Phoonk’, ‘Raaz’, ‘Raaz 3’, ‘1920’, ‘Haunted’ that have redefined the way horror flicks are being made in today’s Bollywood. Hence, it is time to say that Hindi horror cinema has arrived and is at par with Hollywood.
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