IIM Calcutta


Evolution of Horror in Bollywood: Journey from ‘Mahal’ to ‘Ghost’


Most of us would not be able to remember a film named ‘Mahal’ which was probably the first Bollywood horror film. Ashok Kumar and Madhubala-starrer this film was released in 1949 and it dealt with horror and reincarnation in tandem as its plot. If we talk of reincarnation, then it was probably the first film in the world dealing with it. The film was a big hit which inspired the Indian filmmakers to enter into the horror genre. The song ‘Aayega Aanewala’ from the film was sung by the ‘Melody Queen’ Lata Mangeshkar and is hummable even now. This song is said to be a milestone in her singing career.

Mahal was followed by ‘Madhumati’ (1958) which, again, was a mix of horror and reincarnation. Dilip Kumar and Vyjayantimala-starrer this film was directed by the famed Bimal Roy and became an inspiration for the much-talked film ‘Karz’ (1980) starring Rishi Kapoor and more recently for ‘Om Shanti Om’ (2007) starring Shahrukh Khan. The film won several filmfare awards and was an official entry of India for the Best Foreign Language Film in Academy Awards.

After Madhumati, Biswajeet-starrer ‘Bees Saal Baad’ (1962) was released which played down the supernatural element. The song ‘Kahin Deep jale Kahin Dil’ was a big hit along with the film. Lata Mangeshkar won the Filmfare Best Playback Singer Award for the song.

The 1970s witnessed the emergence of sound effects, fearsome ghosts and display of extreme violence in horror films of Bollywood, thanks to Ramsay Brothers. Ramsay Brothers became synonymous to Bollywood horror with their films. Do Gaz Zameen Ke Neeche (1972), Andhera (1975), Darwaza (1978), Hotel (1981), Purana Mandir (1984), Haveli (1985), Tahkhana (1986), Dak Bangla (1987), Veerana (1988), Purani Haveli (1989), Bandh Darwaza (1990), Ajooba Kudrat Ka (1991), Mahakaal (1993) and more recently Aatma (2006), Ghutan (2007) and bachao (2010) are some of their creations. They also came up with a much-popular television horror show on Zee TV with the name ‘The Zee Horror Show’. This show made them a household name. Ramsay Brothers were also the first in making a 3D horror film named ‘Saamri’ (1985), much before ‘Haunted’ (2011) claiming to be the India’s first stereoscopic 3D horror film.

Ramsay Brothers played a significant role in making horror films a part of commercial cinema, but their films lacked newness and innovation. Also, their films contained a lot of adult content and were summarily marked as B-grade films by the critics. Other low-budget production houses copied their style and produced a number of horror films like Cheekh (1986), Kabrastan (1988) and House No 13 (1991). Big production houses were also briefly involved in horror films. Rajkumar Kohli directed Nagin (1976), Jaani Dushman (1979) and Bees Saal Baad (1988), whereas Chetan Anand directed Kudrat (1981) and B. R. Ishara directed Woh Phir Aayegi (1988). Some of these films became very successful, but as a whole Bollywood remained indifferent towards the horror genre until the end of the 20th century.

Bollywood started taking the horror genre seriously after the surprise success of ‘Raaz’ (2002). The film became the second highest grossing film of 2002, just behind ‘Devdas’. The sound effects, the cinematography and the dialogues of Raaz played importantly for the commercial success. This encouraged the film industry to produce horror films with offbeat stories. Raaz was followed by many hit horror films like Bhoot (2003), Saaya (2003), Naina (2005), Kaal (2005), Bhool Bhulaiya (2007), Phoonk (2008), 1920 (2008), Raaz: The Mystery Continues (2009), 13B (2009), Ragini MMS (2011) and Haunted (2011). The main reason for the success of these films is claimed to be the freshness in the story.

One can easily see another important shift in the films of 21st century from the horror films of 20th century. The ghosts of present time are not projected like some hairy animal-like creatures with big nails. Directors have started using gore, suspense and the state-of-the-art visual and sound effects to make the scary scenes more realistic. ‘Fired’ (2010) and recently released ‘Ghost’ (2012) can be said to be one step ahead of other Bollywood horror films as they contain excessively violent scenes and are touted to be equivalent to Hollywood horror style. The Censor Board had to object on a number of scenes of these films and many scenes were trimmed to make the films suitable for public viewing. Ghost had also a very gory scene depicting crucifixion of a girl just like Jesus which was believed not to be suitable for the religious sentiments of the Christian community. The films failed to do well on the Box Office and the plausible reason for that is the lack of a tight script. But, these films have made a bold move by stepping forward towards the Hollywood horror style and we can expect some good Bollywood horror films in Hollywood style.


Predict The Oscars!

‘Predict The Oscars’ was the most recent buzzword at IIM Calcutta. We, at C’nema Paradiso, carried out this exercise on the lines of the same exercise performed around the same time last year. The objective was to investigate the accuracy of collective wisdom and decision-making. This year we received 64 responses which was pretty less than the figure of 104 last year. But, this was justified because of less time given for responding and the great increase in the number of categories under the exercise (20 compared to 6 last year).

If left to us, we would have got 14 right and 1 tie out of the 20 categories which went for the poll two weeks ago. However, we showed disproportionate love towards The Artist. We voted for it under 8 out of its 10 nominations, whereas the Oscar jury finally agreed to award it with 5 Oscars. We underestimated Hugo in the 2 categories, namely Art Direction and Cinematography. We also understated The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo in Film Editing. The best part was that we used our analytical thinking developed during our CAT preparation to infer that there must be some connection between The Artist and Art Direction and voted for it under this category.

But as individuals, our understanding of the minds of the Oscar jury needs further refining for sure. The greater number of categories proved fatal to the level of accuracy and no one could achieve the 100% accuracy in his (her) predictions unlike to the last year. Also, the maximum number of correct predictions by an individual was 15 out of 20 and this feat could be achieved only by 3 out of 64 people. Kudos to Abhishek Daiya, Jana V Satyanarayana and Sushanth G for their fabulous predictions!

Other Highlights

The biggest highlight from the polls is the overwhelming support that the song Real in Rio received from Jokaites with 63% votes in its favour in comparison to the actual Oscar-winning song The Muppets with only 37% votes in its favour. Besides, Hugo, winner in Sound Editing, was the 3rd contender for the IIMC Junta gaining favour of only 22% people whereas Transformers: Dark of the Moon got 31% and War Horse got 26% votes.

There was also an interesting finding. Hugo was not the sole winner as per the predictions done by the IIMC junta under the category of Visual Effects. Amazingly, Rise of the Planet of the Apes received the same number of votes (19) as Hugo. Also, Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows part 2 was a close contender to them with 17 votes in its favour.

Finally, these polls exemplify that collectivism prevails over individualism which has been shown by us on many occasions; summer and final placements, Golden Jubliee celebrations, Intaglio and Carpe Diem are some of them.

~ If you, dear reader, are interested in amusing yourself and have little else to do in life, and want access to raw data for the predictions made, or this could in any way be helpful for some research that you are pursuing (we sincerely hope not!  ), we’d be only to glad to share the raw data with you. You can get in touch with us at cnemaparadiso.iimc@gmail.com.


Muscle of Mumbai

by Pranava

I have watched, yet again on the plane, two movies about Mumbai, both about the muscle of Mumbai. One is about the immigrants who form a large part of the society and are the muscle of Mumbai. And the other is about the conflicts of men in mafia (supposed based on true story). One is an art film with outstanding actors produced by the National Film Development Corporation of India. And the other is a mainstream Bollywood Boxoffice hit produced by a rich daughter of an old time Bollywood actor.
Disha has Nana Patekar moving to Mumbai as an immigrant, living in terrible conditions, always wanting to go back to the village and yet stays on after he loses his wife’s loyalty. Om Puri plays a man who would never give up hope and sticks to the village in spite of terrible finances, proving that hard work and dedication will prevail in the end. Shabana Azmi plays a nagging wife, who acts tired of Om Puri’s never giving up attitude but loves him deeply and is proud of the same attitude. The plot unfolds delicately with the actors’ abilities rather than dialogues. It talks of the simple village life, its struggles, its malicious nature as well as protective nature and the male ego. A beautifully made movie! Yet, I would say it is only a onetime watch. But it stays with you for a while.

 Once Upon A Time in Mumbai has all the glitz and glamour of a mainstream Bollywood movie. It talks about the rise of a good-hearted, helper of the poor, mafia don played by Ajay Devagan who is shot dead by a dark character played by Emraan Hashmi whose main goal since childhood was to get the power, money and fame that comes from being a mafia don. The movie was well made keeping up to pace and makes for a good watch. Except that I do not like bad endings, this one is almost lame. But some say it is about some true story and I am not aware of it so I still feel it is a lame ending. Also, I thought both of the love stories were randomly put and sort of stupid. Everyone has to agree with me that Ajay Devagan and Kangana Raunat’s romance was outright nonsense. And Prachi Desai’s role was more like made for an award and all that. She apparently won a lot of Supporting Role awards even though I do not see how her role is in anyway supporting the film. Remove her from the movie and the story will not suffer. However, remove Emraan’s father, the sub-inspector and the narrative will suffer. He played his role perfectly. All in all it’s a onetime watch.

Oscar predictions & Collective Choice

By Arun Ramachandran for ‘C’nema Paradiso

A friend recently recommended a book written by James Surowiecki – The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations. The author talks about how as a collective we are good at arriving at better decisions than as single members of a group. On a related note, we, at ‘C’nema Paradiso, carried out a little exercise to gauge the mood before the Oscars at IIM-C and, more importantly, how well it could predict the Oscars. With 104 students voting, James Surowiecki would be proud on seeing the voting results.

If left to us we would have got right 4 out of the 6 categories which went for poll last week. However, we were not so keen on showing The Kings Speech the same love that the Oscar jury showed yesterday.
Results vs Predictions
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Yet Another Oscar Predictions Article/ My 2 cents

By Priyanka

(My final article for CP blog, bowing out IIM Cal style :P)
Oscars statute
Disclaimer: All the nominees this year have done wonderful work. This article does not intend to slight any of their work, but only aims to get into the Academy’s head(s?) to predict the probable winners.

It’s that time of the year again. The Oscars are just around the corner. And every expert worth his/her salt has already predicted wins for Oscar hopefuls. So, why this entirely pointless exercise of writing yet another article on the same issue, you may ask. Because, as a PGP2 I couldn’t resist upstaging PGP1s , coz that’s what we PGP2s do! (refer to Oscar poll that facchas have started). Without much further ado, let me begin my prediction.

First, the Academy Awards® for acting a.k.a the acting gongs. The way the awards season has progressed till now – Colin Firth, Natalie Portman, Christian Bale and Melissa Leo seem to be the outright favourites. It would take a very brave person to bet against Firth and Portman. The Best Actress category this year is filled with incredible performances, each of which could have easily won in a normal year. Despite that, my bet is on Natalie Portman – basically because she has won every single award this season. Christian Bale could be in for some competition from Geoffrey Rush, whose performance in TKS was as brilliant as Colin Firth’s portrayal of King George VI. But this could only happen if the Academy is on a total feel-good mode (more on that later). Also, the Academy loves to reward someone who has undergone an extreme physical transformation for a film (e.g. Charlize Theron for Monster), so Bale might be the winner. Read the rest of this page »

Interview with Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra

Inteview By Priyanka on the occasion of Mr.Mehra’s visit to IIM-C campus for delivering a lecture as part of Intaglio
  1. Which are your 5 favourite films and why?

Why is the number always 5? All around the world I am asked the same number. You can’t stop at 5. There are so many films. Cinema caters to different states of mind. The appeal changes with age.  As you change as a person, your cinema changes. I’ve always found this a challenging question. The child in me loves ‘Jungle Book’. I like ‘Do Aankhen Barah Haath’ for taking up such a serious subject and converting it into Nautanki style of storytelling. I love Meghe Dhaka Tara. It’s my all-time favourite film. It does something to me that I cannot explain. ‘Guide’ , ‘Mughal-e-Azam’ in India, so much of Italian cinema. Fellini- all his movies as a director. Polish film-maker called Krzysztof Kieślowski. He’s done incredible films. This series called Decalogue – a series of ten short films based on the ten commandments – absolutely delectable. The American art-house films. The era where the Rat Pack of America changed cinema – Scorcese, Coppola, Oliver Stone, all these guys has been very inspiring in my life. Before them, there were musicals and big dramas and they brought realism into movies and turned it on its head. And they brought in imagination – people like Spielberg and George Lucas. They took us to space. If you look eastwards, there are masters like Kurosawa and his cinema. Closer home there were ‘Do Bigha Zameen’ , ‘Garam Hawa’, ‘ Meghe Dhaka Tara’, ‘Sarange Holi’, ‘Guide’ , ‘Mughal-e-Azam’ these were some of the movies that made an impact on me. Not that there aren’t other films. ‘Bandit Queen’ was one of my favourites

2. What is your take on contemporary Indian film-makers?

I am slightly disappointed in them. That’s a negative way to put it. I am one of the contemporary film-makers in India and I am slightly disappointed in myself too. We are not able to choose. The character of any nation or any community depends on the choices they make and it seems like we are not able to choose. We are living by other people’s choices. We are always scared of putting our foot forward and make the cinema that we want to make. We are not able to sever ties from the whole folk theatre, nautanki, song-and-dance musicals. Yet we have one foot in the other boat and we want to get into this whole new wave. You cannot have your cake and eat it too. You have to make a choice. This is my take on contemporary film-makers including myself from a third person point of view. I think that is what the world also feels . They are looking at us and they are hoping for a change. But its so far-and-wide and spaced out that you are not noticing any change. We are still stagnated. Read the rest of this page »

Dhobi Ghat – Mumbai Diaries

By Gurchetan

As the tag line suggests, Dhobi Ghat is a movie that records the events taking place in the lives of 4 protagonists from diverse strata of Mumbai’s society.

Dhobi Ghat

Arun, played by Aamir Khan, is a reclusive painter who gets his emotional fix from voyeuristically following the life of a newly wed Muslim girl (Yasmin, played superbly by Kriti Malhotra) who has just shifted to Mumbai with her husband. Arun moves into a new apartment that was previously occupied by Yasmin and her husband and happens to stumble upon her recorded videotapes, which contain a documentary of sorts about Yasmin’s life. She was filming them to send to her brother back home. The beauty and idiosyncrasies of Mumbai, as perceived by a new inhabitant of the city, are captured perfectly by Yasmin’s recordings.
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