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HORROR - The genre, which can still bring in the crowd with just marginal publicity and no Big Stars. (Part One) - By Bobby Sing

25 Aug, 2013 | Articles on Cinema

If you are familiar with the home video market in India (beginning from the mid eighties), then you must be aware of the fact that one of the most demanded and saleable genres in the VHS (now obsolete), VCD & DVD circles till date remains the horror genre, which has a big section of viewers (fans) particularly loving the B-C-grade horror movies (of the 70s & 80s) for their own distinctive reasons. Wherein a few love to watch the horrifying scenes in them with scary faces, cheap gimmicks, cheesy graphics & screechy music, the rest watch these movies mainly due to the essential element of ‘erotica’ incorporated in a parallel track running along their basic storylines. Several websites or blogs can be found discussing these movies in their own way, but interestingly the ‘Horror’ genre was not always that cheap and low grade, if we look into the projects made around the mid of the last century (before the 70s).

Article on Hindi Horror Films by Bobby SingBeginning with the late 40s, it was actually without any scary figures or bloodshed and had its main focus on a frightening suspense or mystery, dealing with wandering spirits of beautiful ladies & melodious music as seen in Mahal (1949), Madhumati (1958), Bees Saal Baad (1962), Kohra (1964) and more. Plus there were several other movies having a fine mix of suspense, horror and even comedy incorporated together as in Woh Kaun Thi (1964), Bhoot Bangla (1965), Gumnaam (1965), Anita (1967), Ek Nanhi Munni Ladki Thi (1970), Ek Paheli (1971) & others that mostly didn’t have any spirits or supernatural angle at all but were still able to haunt the viewers well.
Now till these decades, the genre was exploited in a pretty decent manner which was not really frightening or gruesome in the literal sense and many reputed names used to feature in them with pride including Ashok Kumar, Dilip Kumar, Manoj Kumar and more. But once Ramsay brothers got their first success with Do Gaz Zameen Ke Neeche in 1972, the game was not the same anymore and the genre further got consolidated as a potential B-C-grade parallel industry where in films were able to get some marginal returns (in the long run) even when they were declared flops or below average performers at the box office. And these returns mostly came from the smaller centers (with a huge fan following) and always-in-demand morning show screenings in the cities too.
Article on Hindi Horror Films by Bobby SingIncidentally there is a very engrossing story about how the Ramsay Brothers actually found their Horror formula in reality and the fact is related to the film Ek Nanhi Munni Ladki Thi (1970) and Prithiviraj Kapoor enacting as a ghost in one of its long robbery sequences (will be writing a detailed article on this specific episode next as it deserves to be told separately). The film didn’t do well but it still gave the Ramsay brothers a very potent clue about what exactly was being cheered or liked by the audience sitting in the theater. Working on the same they came up with their first focused horror film as Do Gaz Zameen Ke Neeche in 1972 and then never looked back becoming the celebrated leaders of the genre for the next two long decades till the 90s.
So once the genre got its much needed approval from the audience, the next few years witnessed a series of horror films made on this newly found formula like Darwaza (1978), Aur Kaun (1979), Bhayaanak (1979), Guest House (1980), Andhera (1980) and more, along with two interesting experiments tried by Raj Kumar Kohli as Nagin (1976) & Jaani Dushman (1979) adding into the list of successful mystery/horror films of the decade. Plus there were a couple of well attempted, exceptional ventures too as Jadu Tona (1977) by Ravikant Nagaich and Gehrayee (1980) by Vikas Desai-Aruna Raje, tackling the scary subject in a novel thoughtful manner quite different than the other routine films by the Ramsays.
Article on Hindi Horror Films by Bobby SingIn the next ten years (of 80s),
though the experimentation continued with films like Mangalsutra (1981) & Chehre Pe Chehra (1981) (which was not exactly a horror one featuring Sanjeev Kumar in an awfully ugly get up), the decade completely belonged to this new ‘Low Budget-High Returns’ movement started by Ramsay brothers and they were openly considered as the pioneers or specialized makers of such horror movies, much awaited by a particular section of viewers quite eagerly. Loads of movies conceived with a similar mindset released in this particular decade (made by some other makers too) and a few of them even became big hits at the box office continuing their success story such as Purana Mandir, Tehkhana, Hotel, Cheekh, Kabrastaan, Khooni Panja, Band Darwaza, Veerana, Dahshat, Sannata, Purani Haveli, Pyasa Shaitan, Haveli, Daak Bangla, Woh Phir Aayegi, Ajooba Kudrat Ka (with a unique subject) Khooni Murda, Bees Saal Baad & many more.
Amazingly, Ramsay’s Purana Mandir turned out to be one of the top grosser of the year 1984, even when it had to face direct competition from many big films featuring stars like Amitabh Bachchan and their Veerana was also a cult film of its times for both the content and its lead actress. In fact such was the demand and a hidden success ratio of these sub-standard films that one of the first few 3D movies made in India during the mid eighties was also a horror film called Saamri (1985) which was again presented by the Ramsay Brothers proving their solid status in the industry in those particular years. Hence before the mid 90s, there was a whole segment (producers) of Hindi Film Industry specifically making these types of low budget horror movies only (later joined by names such as Mohan Bhakri and Kanti Shah), having a must-have paralled track of ‘sex’ as well as ‘comedy’ thrown in as the two essentially required ingredients of a hit recipe. And many talented artists like Jagdeep, Prem Nath, Rajendra Nath, Lalita Pawar, Satish Shah, Rakesh Bedi and more were seen acting in these films playing the typical roles of watchmen, housekeepers or servants. 
Article on Hindi Horror Films by Bobby SingAfter this most extensive era of horror movies, the viewer’s thought structure was influenced a lot by the Cable TV revolution in the country. And looking at this great positive change, the maverick Ram Gopal Varma (RGV) tried to begin a new trend by making a well-crafted, superbly enacted and technically advanced scary film with some great sound effects & novel camera movements titled Raat (1992). The film unfortunately proved to be a dud at the box office, may be because it was way before its time or didn't have the expected masala of a routine horror film (loved by the fans). But it unarguably introduced and set new standards for a Hind horror film that was later followed by all in the new millennium The 90s also witnessed many renowned film-makers trying to bring in that much needed change with their individual efforts like Mahesh Bhatt in Junoon (1992), Lawrence D'Souza in Paapi Gudia (1996) and Ram Gopal Varma again with another of his highly underrated classic as Kaun (1999).
But since none of these films could impress the audience & register themselves as hits, the earlier pattern of horror films calmly continued as an undercurrent in the revolutionary decade of 90s too with films such as Kafan, Roohani Taqat, Aakhri Cheekh, Khooni Raat, Khooni Panja, Dracula, Sar Kati Laash, Murdaghar and many more. Also due to the visible fading impact, the Ramsay Brothers shifted to the smaller screen with their long TV series called, “Zee Horror Show” which ran for more than five years as their second successful inning entering into the new millennium.
(Written Expressions - All Rights Reserved - 2013)
The second part of this article can be read at the link below. 
The third article in the series of HORROR CINEMA can be read here. 

Tags : Article on Hindi Horror Films by Bobby Sing, Hindi Horror Films History, Bollywood Horror Films, Ramsay Brothers Horror Movies, Mohan Bhakri Horror Movies, Raj Kumar Kohli Horror Movies, Articles on Cinema by Bobby Sing
25 Aug 2013 / Comments ( 4 )

Bobby I dont think Ek Paheli was a well made horror movie, if its the one starring Feroz Khan and Tanuja.
I wanted to remind you about Mahal but you have already included it. Looking forward to the rest of the article.

Bobby Sing

Dear Daman ji,
Actually the article is about the HORROR genre, its History and is immense Power.....But not particularly about any good or bad selection of films at all. Therefore the sentence used is

"Plus there were several other movies which were a mixture of suspense and horror subjects together like Woh Kaun Thi (1964), Bhoot Bangla (1965), Gumnaam (1965), Anita (1967), Ek Nanhi Munni Ladki Thi (1970), Ek Paheli (1971) & others which mostly didn’t have any spirits or supernatural angle at all but were still able to haunt the viewers well."


Sir, i think veerana deserves at least two lines. and there was also a film \"ajooba kudrat ka\" which was different than other films.
Bobby Sing
Dear Sony, Actually a dedicated article on Ramsay Brothers is coming next which will have all such details about their key films. But still I have added a line about 'Veraana' and mentioned "Ajooba Kudrat Ka" too as desired. So thanks a lot for the contribution and do read more in the series of Horror coming soon. Cheers!
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