Is Bollywood in urgent need of more Bulbbuls and Bhool Bhulaiyyas?
When it comes to classic horror movies, Veerana comes to mind. Despite being shot at the time with minimal use of visual effects or even a big star cast, the film made a lasting impression and is still recognised for its lead actress Jasmine's portrayal of the possessed. A few years later, one could recall Krishna Cottage and its melodious song performed by its female ghost - Bepanah Pyar Hai Aja? Or Raaz's spooky forest scenes? Ram Gopal Varma's Bhoot, Bhoot Returns, as well as Darna Mana Hai, Darna Zaruri Hai, and Haunted, contributed significantly to the horror genre in the 2000s. Back in 2007, Akshay Kumar's sceptic was warmly welcomed in Bhool Bhulaiyya.
However, with no major horror films making an impact in the next decade, Bollywood ran out of steam in the horror genre. However, it seems that the Indian cinema industry has 'haunted' audiences pretty successfully in recent years. From horror films with a purpose to A-listers experimenting with horror, Bollywood is finally producing larger and better horror scripts.
Dinesh Vijan uses horror comedy to delicately convey messages of respecting women, women being strong enough, and environmental problems in films like Stree, Roohi, and Bhediya. Anushka Sharma's home production, in collaboration with Anvita Dutt's vision and writing, is producing impactful stories in the shape of Bulbbul, which gives voice to a female ghost, Pari, and Phillauri. Ghost Stories, a joint film by Dibakar Banerjee, Anurag Kashyap, Zoya Akhtar, and Karan Johar, introduced a new short style of haunting stories that left the audience stunned. Even horror classics from the South shined on the big screen and were highly watched across India.
Tumbbad and Vikrant Rona both remained box office blockbusters with critical accolades. Though Kartik Aaryan replaced Akshay Kumar in Bhool Bhulaiyya 2, which brought the number game back to Bollywood, Akshay Kumar had already done his horror act in the horror-comedy Laxmii.
Not only has the quality of narrative risen as a result of the introduction of fresh writers, producers, and production companies, but A-list performers who would earlier avoid horror scripts are now exploring the darker side of the cinema. Katrina Kaif starred in Phone Bhoot opposite Ishaan Khattar and Siddhant Chaturvedi, while other famous actors such as Varun Dhawan, Anushka Sharma, Shraddha Kapoor, and others are willing to perform on a strong horror script. Because of their exposure to global material on OTTs during the epidemic, the audience is open to a good and larger-than-life story.
As Bollywood considers a bag full of meaningful horror stories, the following years appear to be promising as well. The year 2022 has come to a close. With the announcements of the Chhorii 2, Stree 2, and Naagin film series, the horror genre is undoubtedly on the cards.
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