The haunted houses of Bollywood
Vikram Bhatt's 3D horror movie Haunted will be out this week, and it looks like it's set to rehash horror movie cliches by throwing them quite literally in our faces.
And, as we all know, a conventional horror movie needs a haunted house. Here, then, is a trip down memory lane, looking at distinctive haunted houses -- some iconic, some different, some fascinating -- in Hindi cinema.
Kamal Amrohi's seminal 1949 horror classic featured Ashok Kumar wandering the halls of a huge mansion, haunted by Madhubala -- that most ethereally gorgeous of spirits.
The film is a black and white beauty, a suspenseful chiller that catapulted both its lovely leading lady and Lata Mangeshkar -- unforgettably crooning Aayega Aayega Aanewala Aayega -- to superstardom.
Image: A still from Mahal
Director Bimal Roy was the editor on Amrohi's classic, and his own take on reincarnation is an absolute masterpiece -- a 1958 film that influenced many reincarnation films since, both in the West (The Reincarnation Of Peter Proud) and the East (most recently Om Shanti Om).
Dilip Kumar ducks into a dilapidated mansion for shelter, and finds it quite disturbingly familiar.
Image: A still from Madhumati
Despite its name, Mehmood's 1965 film is more suspense than actual horror, though it does at times get delightfully misleading with many a red herring.
The film is set in a purportedly 'haunted' bungalow in the middle of a jungle, apparently just outside Mumbai. A murder occurred there ages ago, and 50 years later, the suspense is uncovered as the bodycount rises.
Image: A still from Bhoot Bungla
In the most inonic of the many horror films churned out by brothers Tulsi and Shyam Ramsay, this 1984 film is about an age-old devil worshipper named Samri, buried under an old temple a couple of centuries ago.
Many generations later, youngsters return to the old haveli and the adjoining temple, only to be terrorised by the evil Samri, played by Ajay Agarwal -- India's first horror franchise character.
Image: A still from Purana Mandir
This 1990 Ramsay entertainer is about a vampire called Neola, who has a freakish army of slaves under him. One of them, a witch called Mahua, works in the house of a Thakur whose wife is unable to concieve.
In a bizarrely dramatic (and somewhat Rumplestiltskin-inspired) plot, both the Thakur's house as well as Neola's Kali Pahari become homes of the damned, haunted till the end.
Image: A still from Bandh Darwaza
Trust Ram Gopal Varma to completely up-end the existing screen perception of haunted houses. In this rather chilling horror film Urmila Matondkar and Ajay Devgan play a couple hunting for a flat in Mumbai.
They find one on the 12th floor of a highrise, and it is this innocuous looking suburban residence that turns out to be haunted by a vengeful spirit who drives Urmila completely batty.
Image: A still from Bhoot
In Sourabh Usha Narang's 2004 horror film, a writer's family -- played by JD Chakravarthy with Sushmita Sen, Ahaas Channa and Peeya Rai Choudhary -- move into a solitary bungalow far from the madding crowd.
Astrologically a bad area, the bungalow proves to be haunted by many a spectre, including whole families of the undead, initially visible only to the child in the family.
Image: A still from Vaastu Shastra
In this Vikram Bhatt ripoff of What Lies Beneath, Bipasha Basu and Dino Morea take their canoodling to a bungalow in Ooty where Dino's obsessive girlfriend (Malini Sharma) had been attacked earlier.
Strange things start happening and a paranormal expert arrives and declares that there is a spirit in the house. The spirit, apparently even in death obsessed with Dino, is then summoned and, quite messily, exorcised.
Image: A still from Raaz
Not just is Vikram Kumar's film set in a typical flat but it's named after that particular flat number.
R Madhavan and his family move into the ominously numbered 13B and he soon realises that a daytime soap on the television starts accurately predicting what will happen in their own lives.
Things start getting weirder and weirder till he learns of the apartment's history, and gives it closure.
Image: A still from 13B
And lest you think Bollywood had left the cliche of the haveli behind, leave it to Vikram Bhatt to not just take you back to the past, but to actually borrow a pseudo-Victorian setting. His 1920, while set in Palampur, was actually shot in Scotland. Go figure.
Anyway, all the other cliches stayed in place, from terrorised priests to angry spirits to possessed women climactically cleansed by a spirited reading of the Hanuman Chalisa. No, really.
Image: A still from 1920