The horror genre has always held a strange fascination for Indian audiences. The genre dates back to the 1940s when the ‘ghost’ Madhubala sang Lata Mangeshkar’s immortal melody Aayega aanewala. Ever since then the ghost of past misdemeanours have haunted the horror genre. One of the most talked-about horror series was made by the inimitable Ramsay brothers in the 80s but they were more of laugh fests with cringe-worthy special effects and a whole lot of mumbo-jumbo. While the genre remains largely trite and formula-bound some scare fests have actually managed to generate some genuine fear. Here are some that got away…
Below is the list of 10 best horror movies of Bollywood:
1. Bhoot (2003):
Normally all film about paranormal/ abnormal experiences is low-budget zero star-power vehicles manned and fuelled by hideous face masks and ghoulish (going on foolish) characters. Ram Gopal Varma ’s film was classy. It featured a top-notch cast of Ajay Devgn, Urmila Matondkar and Rekha who played a ghostbuster. Thank God for ghosts if the busters turn out to be so beautiful.
2. Stree (2018):
After a very long time, came a horror film that made us laugh and gave us some genuine scares. The story of a village haunted by a disgruntled daayan switched effortlessly from buffoonery to intimidation. A rousing entertainer no matter ‘witch’ way you look at it. We can’t wait for the sequel. Pleej!
3. Ek Thi Daayan(2013):
What if your dad’s new wife whom you metaphorically refer to as a ‘witch’ actually turns out to be one? This underrated eerie drama provided Konkona Sensharma with the supreme opportunity to act in a film based on a short story written by her father Mukul Sharma who passed away last month. An underrated scare fare, no matter ‘witch’ way you look at it.
4. Kaun (1999):
Urmila Matondkar as a girl alone in her big empty house with evil lurking in every corner and under the bed just took our breath away. This is one of the scariest Hindi horror films ever made. The camera was literally on the prowl recording every creak and growl. Take a bow, Mr Ram Gopal Varma.
5. Raaz (2002):
Vikram Bhatt’s take on the age-old Hindu mythological tale of Savitri who persuades the God Of Death Yama to bring her dead husband back to life. This ancient saga was racily and sexily retold with lots of pulse-pounding music and titillating terror. Sadly neither Bhatt nor his leading lady Bipasha Basu could generate the same level of adrenaline-rush subsequently.
6. Pari (2018):
Probably the most vivid and effective supernatural thriller I’ve seen. Anushka Sharma played the woman with a spooky ghoulish genuinely disturbing past with a forceful implosive rage that blew the screen apart. This was among the more neglected films of last year and one that horror buffs will embrace on the home medium in the years to come.
7. Tumbaad (2018)
In terms of visual magnetism, this film about a ghoul locked away in a deep dark well and how it controls the doomed life of generations from one family is next to none. There are heart-stopping moments of sheer fright in the narrative as director Rahi Anil Barve dived into that diabolical well to explore human greed in all its scary splendour and how it destroys every fine value that you may otherwise possess. A frightening intimidating morality tale that looked like a twisted poem in motion.
8. Raat (1992)
This is undoubtedly one of the scariest films ever made by Ram Gopal Varma when he was at his best. Starring Revathi in the role of the protagonist, the film remains a cult classic. It was also made in Telugu and both the Hindi and Tollywood versions were hits. This was also the final film in Bollywood which was shot using the 70mm negative. RGV spun the web of horror played with confusion, dilemma and the plight of the affected persons to the greatest extent possible and it scared the daylights out of us.
9. Bhool Bhulaiyya (2007)
A remake of the Malayalam superhit Manichitrathayu, this was not a horror in the classical sense but it gave you a lot of creepy moments. The story about a housewife possessed with the spirit of a dancer who then has to be exorcised was treated with humour, sensitivity and a lot of drama. Though the Hindi version cannot match the Malayalam original, Akshay Kumar did a good job of a psychiatrist who comes up to cure the lady (played by Vidya Balan). It was a complete entertainer with plenty of laughs and a few scares.
10. Darna Mana Hai (2003)
Few other filmmakers have explored horror the way Ram Gopal Varma did. For the first time, Bollywood attempted an anthology of horror in this 2003 release. Darna Mana Hai interwove six short stories into one film. Seven friends who get stuck in the middle of a forest when their car breaks down, find refuge in a house. To kill time they tell each other supernatural stories. And thus the film begins. Starring Saif Ali Khan, Vivek Oberoi, Aftab Shivdasani, Shilpa Shetty, Sameera Reddy, Isha Koppikar, Nana Patekar, Sohail Khan, this was a refreshing approach to the genre with each story proving to be more interesting and scary than the other.
Over the last few years, horror seems to have lost its fascination among audiences. With the exception of Stree which had a unique combination of humour, social satire and horror, not many films have explored this genre in its purest sense. Bipasha Basu tried to become a scream queen with her many horror films but aside from Raaz, nothing really worked. Will any mainstream filmmaker gives us a film that genuinely scary movie? Perhaps Ram Gopal Varma should rediscover some of his lost mojo and go into the Bhoot and Kaun mode once again.