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Deconstructing An Indian Horror Film

No, I am not talking about Baar Baar Dekho. I am talking about the true blue, quintessential, Indian horror movie. I am talking about the Ramsays, the Bhatts, the Bipashas, and everything in between. I am talking about the sex, and the thrills, and the thrills that come with sex in such movies. But, I digress. Just like the genre.

With Raaz Reboot done (and dusted), its time to analyse, what exactly constitutes a horror film for an Indian moviegoer? Is it the mere fact that there is a ghost lurking somewhere, and we’re supposed to feel scared about it? What about something known as, I don’t know, a script?

Anyway, here I list down how exactly to make an Indian horror film. Wannabe Vikram Bhatts- take note. This is how it’s done.

At the centre of the story, needs to be a woman. Just because it is so much cooler when a woman gets possessed. Aesthetics, see? More often than not, even the ghost that is haunting is also female- a witch, or a chudail. What’s the male equivalent of a chudail I wonder?

Anyway, so a couple, married or otherwise, (depending on what era your film is based), moves to a new city, sometimes country (depending on the producer’s budget), and finds accommodation in a rather obviously haunted house. The woman usually finds this house really beautiful and coaxes the man to stay there. Just women doing women things. The man gives in, grudgingly.

Obviously, the man goes out of the house all day, to earn bread and butter. Just men doing men things. The woman sits around house all day, and waits for the man to return. It is here that a crow, or a raven, or any such conventionally creepy looking bird is introduced to the mix. The bird shows up, and the woman is scared. Obviously. It happens suddenly, that’s why.

At this juncture, she starts seeing things around the house. Objects moving of their own accord. Weird noises. Glass breaking. You know, the works. Just ghosts doing ghost things.

An ominous prediction needs to come from some inconsequential character, usually old in age. This prediction can be made either to the man or woman. We believe in gender equality, that way.

Anyway, after the initial few days, where the man and woman make love to each other seemingly on a daily basis, and in much detail, now things become tense between them. The woman says the house is haunted (women seem to believe in ghosts more easily than men) but the man doesn’t believe her. This will go on till at least half the movie, till the time, the woman is completely possessed by the spirit. When that happens, and things become obvious that she is possessed, there’s sometimes another entry. The entry of the third wheel. The character who claims to know everything, about everything, but is mysterious in his ways. Now, there are two ways to go about it- one, the woman falls for him, and he becomes her hero, two, its still her husband/boyfriend who is trying to protect her, in which case this third wheel becomes inconsequential, and must die.

Also, did we mention, that this ghost knows all the demon symbols, of every possible religion. It shows signs of what it wants, talks in a digitally edited voice (thats creepy, of course, haven’t you heard Farhan Akhtar sing?), and usually doesn’t negotiate. At least two minor characters need to die. It can be the Padre, the Pandit, the Kazi, the best friend, the other best friend, the mysterious dude who was helping them- any two from the above.

Eventually, a God chant helps, and the demon is killed. Just God doing God things. The woman is saved. And all is well with the world.

Mix this film with some good music (which is actually a rehash of the same music from the previous horror film), and intersperse it with some hot love making sequences. Because nothing goes as well as sex and horror.

Voila, the script of Raaz 5 is ready. Or is it going to be Raaz Re-Reboot?

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Is The Star Driven Model Failing?

With the recent release (and subsequent failure) of Mohenjo Daro, Disney has officially stalled its India operations. They were, until recently working with UTV in India. The partnership worked well, till it didn’t. The movies started flopping one after the other, and Mohenjo Daro is a colossal addition to the list. The movie has raked in losses to the tune of 90 crores plus.

But why was the cost of production so high in the first place? Agreed, it was a period film, which requires elaborate sets and high production value, but it is said that Hrithik was paid a whopping 20 crores for the film. These 20 crores bloated the budget of the film. And UTV bought this film for roughly 95 crores. Obviously the movie had an uphill battle to climb. It might still be able to recoup some of its losses, but rest assured, this film will go in the annals of film history as one of the biggest failures.

And this film isn’t the first one. Last year, Bombay Velvet met with the same fate. A lot of this has to be attributed to our propensity to pay actors way above what they deserve. Sure, having a Salman in your film ensures bums on seats in a theatre, but a Hrithik, who comes with a similar price tag, does not guarantee instant success.The problem is the remuneration of these stars. And more importantly, the remuneration of their support staff. Everyone, from their managers to their personal assistants, to their make up artistes to their drivers are paid for by the producers. A producer recently claimed that the remuneration of a certain star’s driver was, in total, more than what was paid to the scriptwriter of the film. The result? Mediocre cinema. Which is now falling flat.

The problem is the remuneration of these stars. And more importantly, the remuneration of their support staff. Everyone, from their managers to their personal assistants, to their make up artistes to their drivers are paid for by the producers. A producer recently claimed that the remuneration of a certain star’s driver was, in total, more than what was paid to the scriptwriter of the film. The result? Mediocre cinema. Which is now falling flat.
This is the very reason why the Bhatts continue to make profits, even out of their biggest flops. The budgets are strictly contained, and a lot of money is made from the music rights and the digital rights of the film. New directors helm most of these movies, and hence the cost of production is marginal.

Stars need to be put in check. The larger than life star of yesteryears has now given way to a newer generation of realistic heroes (Nawazuddin, Irrfan, Rajkumar Rao). The films which have these men in the lead, have a far lesser chance of failing, as the stakes are always low. Sure, a Raman Raghav won’t break the records of a Dabangg, but any movie, which can be considered good, and yet make a profit, is a success in today’s day and age.