By Priyanka Sharma (12:09)
New Delhi, May 17 (IANS) Movies and television shows are going the scary way again - and making money too. It's the time for chills and thrills once more with Vikram Bhatt's "Haunted" setting the trend, Ekta Kapoor following suit with "Ragini MMS" and NDTV Good Times walking the spooky talk with "India's Most Haunted".
There were a string of horror films last year -- "Click", "Rokkk", "Hide & Seek", "Shaapit", "Phoonk 2" and "A Flat" to name a few -- but all failed to get the audiences shivering in fright. However, 2011 looks promising with "Haunted" getting a good response after its release last Friday.
Vikram's fascination with ghosts is well-known. He wowed audiences and critics with "Raaz" starring Bipasha Basu and Dino Morea, a huge commercial success. He later came up with "1920", not a hit, but packed with scenes which scared audiences.
"Horror is a niche genre because it's more or less about adult content; so that cuts off children. And then, everyone doesn't want to pay to get scared. However, horror always has a loyal audience. All my horror films have done well," said Vikram.
Made at a budget of Rs.8.5 crore, Bhatt's "Haunted" is rock steady at the box office and has earned Rs.12.5 crore net so far.
"I try to make it work because superstition is deep-rooted here and there is always a mystery element to superstitions, which excites me," he added.
TV czarina Ekta Kapoor, whose "Ragini MMS" about supernatural powers opened with mixed response at the box office, says people are bored of the caricature of ghosts they see in Ramsay Brothers movies and are looking for something different.
" 'Ragini MMS' is a totally new look at horror films. Ramsays had a certain way of showing horror, typically with graves, and people with mud on their body or they used to depict horror with really beautiful women in white saris. But, clearly, I am beyond the caricature now," Ekta, who earlier tried to scare people with "Woodstock Villa", told IANS.
"Any young viewer now wants to get really scared when he or she goes to the theatre. Something like a 'Paranormal Activity' which has no bhoot (ghost), but one still gets scared. 'Ragini MMS' caters to that audience," she added.
"The Indian audience is fed up with international horror films and they cannot be fooled by showing caricatures. So we have to make intelligent horror films that really scare them."
Apart from these two films, Prawaal Raman's forthcoming psychological thriller "404" also revolves around paranormal forces. It is an intriguing story about a professor who denies the paranormal and believes only in science, while a bright young student battles with his conflict of illusion and reality.
Television is not far behind.
NDTV Good Times has come up with a new show called "India's Most Haunted" with well-known anchors Rocky Singh and Mayur Sharma.
"It's (India's Most Haunted) spooky, it has suspense, mystery. It's just one of those things because you know life is not just black and white, it's grey and you can't keep celebrating sushi and sequinned bikini; you have to accept that there is more, there is something beyond and something extra. Everybody loves a good story even if its is a good ghost story," said Shivani Sharma, channel head, NDTV Good Times.
Armed with state-of-the-art equipment, Rocky and Mayur will travel across the country to find the truth behind legends and curses.
"All of us have ghost stories to tell that our mothers tell, that our grandmothers tell, about mist in mountains, a visit by a relative and we believe in it. I think all of us believe at some level that there is some other reality, apart from what we live and this show delves into that reality," said Rocky.
"We don't aim to create a horror show; it somehow offends what we have done, this show takes on cultural tapestry and try to analyse what the people of India think about the paranormal or about the supernatural," he added.
Colors TV's fiction show "Anohniyon Ka Andhera" also sees protagonist Anita Hassanandani fight ghosts.
Last year, the horror content on small screen went up with shows like "Aahat", "Mano Ya Na Mano", "The Chair" and "Girls Night Out".
(Priyanka Sharma can be contacted at [email protected])