Experience, the real terror with Stree, Bhooth, 1920, and Tumbbad.
Horror movies that take birth in Bollywood reflect a mix of Indian sensibilities assisting in making them as discrete as Japanese or American horror films. Considering Bollywood’s horror movies as a sub-genre and their performance on the big screen, it is disheartening to see them perform under par over the years. In the list of genuinely successful
Bollywood horror films, there are only a handfuls that make the cut and manage to amuse the audiences. Due to this factor, the genre has faced the need to keep reinventing itself as time has elapsed.
Straying away from the conventional horror genre, nowadays, it’s horror comedies that rule the landscape in Indian films, taking the darkness of the genre to a new tangent with its productions. But as this evolutionary cycle permits scope for the birth of an inventive collection of films within the sub-genre, the charm for those who prefer diversity outweighs tradition.
Without further ado, let us delve into 10 handpicked Horror movies that have left an impact on the viewers and scared them so much that they would not wake up at 3in the morning and go alone to the kitchen if they have a craving for ice cream.
Literally translating into “ghost”, Bhoot focuses on a couple who rents a high-rise apartment at a ridiculously cheap worth. When Vishal (Ajay Devgn), lastly seen in
Drishyam 2, discovers that the reason the apartment is priced so low is the suicide of a woman who killed herself after killing her son, he decides to shove it under the carpet from his wife, Swati, (Urmila Matondkar).
It is only a matter of time before Swati finds out about the suicide, and her behavior soon starts to alter. Although Vishal shows cynicism at this change of behavior first and takes his wife to a doctor, he comprehends that something much more sinister is at play.
Unlike most Bollywood films, Bhoot doesn’t have a single song which separates it from the conventionality of Bollywood. Even though there was a follow-up part and a reboot that followed the 2003 released film, neither was able to reproduce the eerie tones of the original, which became a box-office hit when it was released.
A period horror drama that will cut most of the Bollywood horror movies’ lists; 1920 follows Arjun (Rajneesh Duggal), a renowned architect, who resolves to marry a girl from a dissimilar caste, Lisa (Adah Sharma). When his family stands in contradiction of their marriage and tries to kill Lisa, Arjun eschews his individuality as a Hindu and takes the call to move away.
Fortunately, Arjun gets an opportunity to renovate a stately ancient mansion. But as things go in most horror films set in old manors, Lisa and Arjun become a target of a vengeful spirit. Set in 1920, the film is famous for its elaborate sets and scenic location that lend their flavor to the film’s narrative. Horror film enthusiasts will also find some similarities to classic horror films such as The Exorcist and The Exorcism of Emily Rose (my personal favorite) in some scenes. Known for its great soundtrack, the film was followed by three sequels — each not as well as the first.
1920 London Pari
Pari is Hindi for Princess. It casts one of the most popular actresses, Anushka Sharma, who has worked in some blockbuster Bollywood movies, such as
Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, Jab Tak Hai Jaan, and Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi. The plot is centered around the demon Ifrit and the satanic cult aiming to disseminate the lineage of the demon. The film depicts a young woman who becomes a victim of a satanic ritual and is rescued by a Good Samaritan, unaware of her connection with the demon Ifrit.
Driven by robust performances and a plot that re-imagines the horror genre through a refreshingly novel, atmospheric mood, Pari comprehensively institutes the myth of the Ifrit to become one of the scarier Bollywood horror films in contemporary times.
Ek Thi Daayan
In Hindi, “Daayan” is translated to a witch. Known for featuring in a string of horror films, Emraan Hashmi plays the role of a well-known magician who’s suffering from the ordeal of his past as he believes his father and sister were killed by a witch when he was a child.
Building on the myth of the Daayan, a practitioner of black magic in Indian folklore, Ek Thi Daayan is a supernatural thriller that has many jump scares laid throughout the film. The film builds on the lore of Daayan, who’s already familiar to Indian audiences in one form or another.
Mumbai Saga, Hamari Adhuri Kahani Tumbbad
A classic period horror drama directed by Rahi Anil Barve, Anand Gandhi, and Adesh Prasad, Tumbbad was appreciated for its screenplay, acting, and plot development. Tumbbad revolves around a mythological monster named Hastar, who should not be worshipped. In an attempt to build a shrine for Hastar and worship it to attain cursed wealth, a family faces disaster.
Tumbbad is a true reflection of how gluttony for wealth can destroy everything in the life of a person. Available on Amazon Prime Videos, the film stars Sohum Shah, Jyoti Malshe, Mohammad Samad, Ronjini Chakraborty, and Anita Date.
Bhool Bhulaiyaa: 2
Bhool Bhulaiyaa (Labyrinth) is a psychological-thriller horror film remake of a Malayalam language film. The film follows Siddharth (Shiney Ahuja), who returns to his ancestral village with his wife Avni (Vidya Balan) after a trip to the US.
A man who imbibes modern values, Siddharth goes contrary to the words of his elders. He decides to live on their ancestral property, which is rumored to be haunted by the spirit of the classical dancer Manjulika. Maintaining a fine balance between a comedy and a thriller, Bhool Bhulaiyaa, leaves the viewer guessing if it is a horror movie at all. But this doesn’t mean it won’t give you the creeps when the chance arises.
A light-hearted horror-comedy sequence,
Stree revolves around the urban legend of a witch that visits the houses of the residents of the village during the time of a particular festival. To shun away the witch, the inhabitants write “Stree, Come Tomorrow” in the local language on the doors of their houses. The witch essentially kidnaps the men of the village and leaves just their clothes behind.
Part horror-comedy, part social commentary — Stree is certainly one of the lesser creepier ones on the list but makes it up with some phenomenal performances by the cast and its entertainment value. Stree is one of the best horror comedies in the more recent catalog of Bollywood horror films that have tipped more toward the subgenre as a result of its constructive reception by the masses.
Based on the Tamil film that also goes by the same name, Pizza really banks on its thrilling plot to keep the viewer on the edge of their seats. The film has the reputation of being one most uncertain ones till the end. The film revolves around a pizza delivery boy who catches trouble when he is sent to deliver pizza to a haunted house.
With a few parallel threads running alongside the central story, Pizza is quite an interesting blend between a thriller and a horror film. The strength of the film is definitely its convoluted storyline — something that’s not very common to Bollywood horror in general.