The Bollywood horror film industry has a rich history, going back to the fifties. However, because of several aspects, the mainstream looked at horror with a disdain.
Through the seventies, eighties, and nineties, the A-Listers never signed up a horror film. That created a whole new set of actors who’d do Bollywood horror films – and they had a cult following.
Because the actors were new, the budgets were less. Because horror is a saleable genre, most of these horror films became moneyspinners for the producers and financiers.
With newer talent coming in, producers looking for a quick buck began churning off regressive and exploitative cinema, Bollywood horror became infamous. In the nineties, directors like Ram Gopal Varma and Vikram Bhatt revolutionalized the horror genre with their films.
Here are the 5 films that changed the audience’s perspective of an Indian horror film.
# 1 Stree
Dinesh Vijan directs this script by Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK. Before this, nobody succeeded in creating a genuine horror film with comedy elements. Stree was an instant hit and revived the horror segment in Bollywood. The film stars Rajkummar Rao, Shraddha Kapoor, and Flora Saini.
This Dino Morea and Bipasha Basu film changed the template of horror films. Earlier, horror films were about an evil spirit haunting the family of someone who wronged them.
In Raaz, the reason behind the evil spirit’s existence was a crime committed or injustice meted out by the ones who are being haunted. The bold, new, generation lapped up this idea, paving the way for India’s most popular franchise.
#3 Go Goa Gone
Go Goa Gone answered a pertinent question – why do zombies only attack Western countries? With Go Goa Gone, India got its first successful, entertaining and franchise worthy zombie film.
Go, Goa, Gone was the first successful horror film to add comedic elements and get away with it. The intelligentsia called it black humor and the mainstream lot saw the incidents depicted in the film happen with them every day – apart from the zombie apocalypse, of course. Today, it makes the list of the most wanted Indian horror sequel films.
For three decades, Indian horror creators used the wash-rinse-repeat formula. They couldn’t delve into the rich Indian culture for characters and story arcs. There was this risk of hurting sentiments. Somehow, Anushka Sharma had the wherewithal to get into Islamic history and create Pari, a genuinely terrifying film.
This is only the second Bollywood horror film that was an eerie experience to watch in the theatre, second only to Stree.
Funny but true, this film is still talked about four decades after its release. That puts it at par with Sholay – well, almost. The Ramsays made several horror-template films like Purana Mandir, Purani Haveli, Shaitaani Ilaaka and many more. But Veerana is the one every Indian horror buff knows about.
In retrospect, there’s absolutely no reason why Veerana became so famous, apart from the fact that there’s a conspiracy theory that the lead heroine, Jasmine, has disappeared somewhere. Maybe that’s the reason it’s loved by horror clubs even today.