Friday, Jul 01, 2022
Outlook.com
Bollywood

Skin-Deep Scary: The Cult Of Sleaze As Horror

Hindi horror movies of the ’80s were meant to titillate. Anyone scared in the process was purely incidental.

Eight- thirty in the morning is an odd time to watch horror films. But my formative years of watching them have mostly been at this hour when temple bells are ringing, joggers are jogging, school children are getting off buses, in the morning shows at Blue Moon and Blue Diamond in Brigade Road in Bangalore or in Excelsior and Filmistan in Chandni Chowk and Karol Bagh in Delhi. I would be waiting outside the hall furtively to let the crowd get in first, tentatively go to the ticket counter and quickly get it tendering exact change as the notice instructed. I would leave the theatre about 10 minutes before the film ended to make a quick getaway to the nearest bus stand, before any friend or a relative spotted me. Though chances are they were doing the same, and the reason I never came across anyone known was perhaps because they were in as much of a hurry to leave the premises.

As a result I never saw the beginning or the ending of a horror film those days. It didn’t matter because I was unlikely to discuss or analyse the film with anyone, like, say the unending deconstruction of the opening sequence of Three Colours Blue or The Seventh Seal, in later years. So, after blood-curdling sequences of a khooni darinda wreaking havoc with the body parts of a group of unsuspecting teens, with ear-splitting music and murderous screams in a darkened, cool cinema hall to come out to the hot blow of a Delhi summer forenoon would be jangling to the nerves. I would also be hot in the face of hating myself, an overbearing feeling of shame, of disgust, of guilt for having come to watch something so crass and banal. I would make all these pious promises never to do it again after sitting through a Purana Mandir till a Pyasa Shaitan came along.

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