With 1920 London opening in cinemas this weekend, we look back at some of Bollywood’s best films in the genre.
Steering away from the bad make-up and screeching SFX of the Bollywood horror films before it, director Ram Gopal Verma’s supernatural thriller remains a cult classic. South Indian actress Revathi plays Mini, a carefree, college-going girl, who is possessed by a revenge-seeking spirit. The film’s main themes involve a haunted house and the ghost of a woman who was murdered within, with a black cat thrown in for good measure. The most chilling scene, however, remains the one where pre-possessed Mini goes for a comedy movie with her friends – she throws her head back, eyes closed, with laughter, only to find herself completely alone in an abruptly silent cinema hall.
Another Ram Gopal Verma classic in the same vein as Raat, Bhoot stars Urmila Matondkar, as the unwitting victim possessed by a murderous spirit; Ajay Devgn as her hapless husband; and Rekha, as the exorcist who tries to solve the mystery of the malignant entity. From gruesome murders and ghastly mirrors to little-boy and ragged-doll ghosts, the film was rendered creepier still by the award-winning Matondkar’s impeccable acting. Notably, Bhoot did not have any songs. What it did have, however, was a white-clad female form watching people sleep from the doorway of their bedroom.
Vikram Bhatt’s first foray into horror, the film stars Bipasha Basu and Dino Morea as Sanjana and Aditya, a couple estranged over Aditya’s infidelity. They move to a mansion in Ooty, when things begin to take a sinister turn. As chandeliers rattle and brooms defy gravity, enter Malini, the scorned other woman, who, even when alive, was a bit of a sociopath – hell hath no fury, indeed.
13B: Fear Has a New Address (2009)
A general suspicion of the number 13 has caused several high-rises to skip straight from floor 12 to 14. Not so in the case of the residential building in this film, where a young couple – Manohar (R Madhavan) and Priya (Neetu Chandra) move into flat 13B. Manohar chances upon a TV soap – that airs on channel 13 – and discovers his life is unfolding along the lines of the show. The film was appreciated for its contemporary themes – our reliance on and obsession for gadgets, from lifts and phones to the television and internet – and its convincing, almost scientific climax.
When the picky Aamir Khan, successful Kareena Kapoor and versatile Rani Mukerji agree to star in a horror film directed by Reema Kagti, it merits a watch. A tough-as-boots cop is trying to deal with his young son’s death, even while his wife approaches a medium to try to communicate with her dead child. While there are limited moments of paranormal activity, the story is full of interesting twists and turns and taps into the fascinating parascience of communicating with the dead.