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Thursday October 31, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Thursday October 31, 2013 MYT 10:47:41 AM
by sharmilla "ghost writer" ganesan
Ragini MMS experiments with the found footage genre.
Bollywood films are not all lovey-dovey fare.
My most vivid memory of an Indian horror movie is watching one as a seven-year-old that absolutely terrified me.
I can’t remember much of the plot, but I do recall it being about a little girl-doll possessed by a vengeful female ghost, that proceeds to kill off everyone involved in her murder.
And, in true Indian movie style, the doll even had a creepy song it would sing!
For weeks afterwards, visions of that doll would haunt me, no thanks to the fact that every pasar malam we went to seemed to have stalls selling one that reminded me of it. And, in case you’re wondering, no, it didn’t strike me at all just how similar the movie was to Child’s Play.
Truth be told, Indian horror films aren’t big on originality. Despite some real classics, like Mahal (1949) and Jaani Dushman (1979), most horror films veered towards copied storylines. Plots were typically about vengeful ghosts or haunted houses, or, you know, a house haunted by a vengeful ghost.
Some of the most popular scare flicks made in India are “remakes” of successful Hollywood ones, such as Gehrayee (inspired by The Exorcist), Raaz (unofficial adaptation of What Lies Beneath) and Naina (based on The Eye).
The last decade or so, however, has seen a real surge in the way Indian cinema handles horror, thanks to the success of blockbusters like Bhoot in 2003 and Vaastu Shastra in 2004, both by Ram Gopal Verma, who proved that horror films need not be copied to scare the pants off someone.
Hence, we’ve been seeing not just a diverse range of horror movies, but also big name actors being drawn to them.
Kaal in 2005, for example, was about a group of people trapped in a forest with what seems like a ghostly tiger after them. Phoonk, also by Ram Gopal, deals with black magic, while Ragini MMS in 2011 experimented with the found footage genre.
Tamil film Yavarum Nalam (released in Hindi as 13B) also received positive reviews in 2009, for its unusual storyline, where a family realises, after moving into a new apartment that their lives seem to parallel a television show they follow.
Arundhati (2009), dealing with reincarnation and black magic, was a huge hit.
Pizza, released last year, is another Tamil horror film that won over audiences with its unexpected twists.
It does make me rather nostalgic, though, when I realise that the days of creepy singing dolls appearing in Indian films may have passed us by. Then again, I hear that zombie films are the next big thing ...
East or West: Who scares us best?
Homegrown horror hits
Tags / Keywords:
Entertainment, Bollywood, horror films, Halloween
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