Why Horror is Such a Hit at the Bollywood Box Office

The success of Stree and The Nun indicate that people love thrills and chills
Why Horror is Such a Hit at the Bollywood Box Office
'Stree' movie still

Stree which released a  week ago and  The Nun, the  new segment  in  the popular  The Conjuring franchise,  have wiped out  all competition at  the Indian  boxoffice this week.

While Stree, a horror-comedy featuring Rajkummar Rao as a simpleton obsessed with a mysterious woman, raked in above 65 crore  rupees  in the first week. The Nun has opened this week to  huge crows  in English and three Indian languages.

So is  horror  the new hero at the boxoffice? Says trade analyst Amod Mehra, “All over the world horror films have a set loyal viewership who love this genre of   movies. So it's no surprise that The Nun too has done well. Plus both the films hardly have any opposition. Stree actually worked more for its comedy than horror.”

Producer Rahul Mittra has a deeper explanation for why  horror is less likely to  fail at the box-office than other genres. “Some of the most heartfelt emotions are experienced when you  are watching a film and while love and hatred are the strongest of the emotions an individual experiences, the threat to his or her immediate security or safety is one of the strongest emotions too. And the reaction to this threat triggers fear.”

According to Mittra  horror works  as it gives the audience the thrill of vicarious terror in  the safety of  the  movie theatre. “Jim Morrison once said that the attractiveness of cinema lies in the fear of death and it’s the emotion of fear that protected humans from predators and other threats to the survival of the species. Hence a horror fan lurks in each one of us, probably explaining why horror genre is the most popular world over. In the end there’s a good film and a bad one and as long as films evoke in you a plethora of emotions… films will be lapped up by the audiences.”

Writer-director Akshat Verma agrees with Mittra. “Of all the genres, horror is usually the most robust. Horror fans are more supportive of cinema than any other.”

Entertainment  journalist Bharati S Pradhan  feels Stree had  more going for it the scares.  “I haven't seen The Nun. So I  can't comment about it. Stree is more than horror. It's an entertaining film, the humour works bigtime. And small town ambience scores when it's handled well. Also Rajkummar Rao aced it with his, ‘Vicky pleeeej’. Stree worked because it is entertaining and  not only because it’s scary.”

Hansal Mehta warns against falling for formulistic fallacies.  “Let’s not find a formula in the success of Stree. Let’s appreciate it for what it is. For me what worked brilliantly in Stree was the comedy. I’m not a horror fan but I thought Stree is much more than horror or comedy. It is a smartly written and well-acted film that slips in a social message without any preaching. I haven’t seen Nun and I don’t plan to see it!”