Ten Years of Raaz, and the Journey Continues
Horror film Raaz is no classic. But it's shaped into a successful franchise with both Raaz and Raaz: The Mystery Continues doing exceedingly well at the box office.
It's been 10 years since the first one came out starring Bipasha Basu and Dino Morea. Although hugely inspired by Hollywood's What Lies Beneath, the Vikram Bhatt film raked in the moolah and garnered praises of Basu's fiery performance as well as Nadeem-Shravan's lilting score.
The key members of the original return with Raaz 3, again a supernatural drama about an insecure actress using black magic on her rival to reclaim the top slot. Esha Gupta, who was barely a teenager when Raaz released, plays the other leading lady on this one.
With the third film in the series ready to hit the screens on September 7, here's looking at the main players of the original and their professional sojourn from 1 to 3.
Raaz offered Bipasha, with only Abbas-Mustan's Ajnabee behind her, the opportunity to play a central character where the onus of making it work lay primarily on her shoulders.
But her effortless chemistry with then beau Dino Morea and a powerful screen presence ensured the horror was a mega hit and established her as star to watch out for with a couple of Best Actress nominations at awards ceremonies.
Over the period, Bipasha has made a name for herself with her striking confidence and sex appeal in action flicks (Race), screwball laugh-raisers (No Entry), rom-coms (Bachna Ae Haseeno), political thrillers (Lamhaa), quirky indies (Pankh) and extended cameos in prestigious films (Omkara).
But it's been a while since she delivered a hit. Will Raaz 3 improve her fortunes yet again?
Image: Bipasha Basu: Then in Raaz and now in Raaz 3
Top model with dishy looks and bulging biceps failed to make a splash as a movie hero. Despite an odd success or two, Dino Morea's career never quite took off.
His limited acting skills and failure to make any connection with the audience resulted in colossal bores like Aap Ki Khatir, Holiday, Anamika, Life Mein Kabhie Kabhie and Karzzzzz.
Morea wisely decided he's better off behind the scenes with his production house, Clockwork Films, responsible for high-profile commercials featuring Kareena Kapoor and Karan Johar as well Sunny Leone's acting debut, Jism 2.
Image: Dino Morea in Raaz, Right: Photographed recently
Remember the pretty, free-spirited ghost from Raaz who makes life a nightmare for Bipasha and demonstrates sizzling intimacy with Dino?
Model-turned-one-film-wonder Malini Sharma worked well as the creepy surprise package of the horror story. But the stunner who features in Bombay Vikings' Kya Soorat Hai music video has long disappeared since.
Apparently, acting didn't interest her much and Malini, briefly married to Tum Bin hero Priyanshu Chatterjee, decided to call it quits even before making a start.
Image: Malini Sharma and Dino Morea in Raaz
As Professor Agni Swaroop, last word on all things supernatural, Ashutosh Rana employed his uncomfortably large eyes and exaggerated style to match the dramatic tone of Raaz.
It's one of the few well-meaning characters he's portrayed considering his ferocious breakthrough roles in Dushman and Sangharsh.
Since Raaz, Rana has gone on to star in films like Haasil, LOC: Kargil, Shabnam Mausi, Bhatt offerings like Kalyug, Awaarapan and Dhoka as well as the principal antagonist in this year's Tamil super hit Vettai.
Image: Ashutosh Rana in Raaz
With back to back hits like Ghulam, Kasoor and Raaz, Vikram Bhatt's career as director reached an all-time high.
But things just went spiraling downwards after the Akshay Kumar-Suniel Shetty-Paresh Rawal comedy, Awaara Paagal Deewana with films like Aetbaar, Inteha, Footpath, Life Mein Kabhie Kabhie, Aap Mujhe Achche Lagne Lage and Speed receiving abysmal reviews and biting box office dust.
The man instead made news for his personal equations with heroines like Sushmita Sen and Amisha Patel till he found his true calling in horror what with 1920, Shaapit and Haunted achieving varying degrees of success.
Even as his last film and Karisma Kapur's comeback vehicle, Dangerous Ishq was an unmitigated disaster, Raaz 3 with its numerous eerie ingredients bears potential to hit the jackpot.
Image: Vikram Bhatt
Nadeem Shravan made some of the best music for the Bhatt brothers -- Mahesh and Mukesh. Raaz, while not in the same league as Aashiqui, Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahin and Sadak, boasts of some highly popular chartbusters like Aap ke pyaar mein, Jo bhi kasme khai, Tum agar samne, Yahan pe sab shanti.
Several industry pundits claim the soundtrack was one of the main reasons for the thriller's success. Although for Raaz 2 and 3, the Bhatts opted for various artists ranging from Toshi Sharib, Raju Singh and Jeet Ganguly and Mithoon respectively.
The music composer duo never experienced the same level of high though some tracks from Andaaz and Qayamat were deemed catchy. The duo decided to go their separate ways after Suneel Darshan's forgettable Dosti but there are rumours of a reunion on a possible Saajan sequel.
As we all know, the star of Murder, The Dirty Picture and Shanghai acted in the Raaz sequel and is the main lead in the new one. But did you know he was attached to the original too? Only his contribution was behind the scenes.
He worked as an assistant director to Vikram Bhatt before going on to make his acting debut in the same director's Footpath co-starring his current leading lady, Bipasha. The two weren't romantically paired opposite each other.
Hashmi has come a long way from those days. From being a dubbed a serial kisser for his elaborate lip locks with every co-star in film after film to a reliable star with a good number of hits to his credit to a fine actor as witnessed in this year's Shanghai.
Image: Emraan Hashmi with Bipasha Basu in Raaz 3