For years now, the horror and thriller genre for movies has been pretty sought after by the Indian audience. When we talk about horror films made in Bollywood when going straight back to the works of Ramsay brothers, which have secured them a place in the Bollywood Hall of Fame for horror filmmakers. However, throughout this journey, films in Bollywood that are meant to be scary, often turned about to be comic in nature and subsequently became objects of public satire and sometimes, even mocking. To break that very belief, here we are with a list of our top 10 picks of the some of the scariest horror films ever made in Bollywood.
1. Mahal (1949)
Kamal Amrohi’s directorial debut, Mahal, stars Ashok Kumar and Madhubala. It is an eerie story about a young lawyer gets involved with a ghostly woman after moving into his new house, where the house’s builder and his fiancée died soon after it was built. It revolves around the idea of reincarnation and even with minimal effects, it’s our top pick. This was Bombay Talkies’ greatest hit movie and Lata Mangeshkar’s first hit song “Aayega Aanewala” was also from this movie.
2. Bees Saal Baad (1962)
After a wealthy Thakur rapes a girl from village Chandanghat, she is traumatized beyond bounds and resorts to committing suicide. Soon after, the Thakur also dies, making everyone in the village believe that he was killed by the dead girl’s revengeful spirit and this curse apparently led to the deaths of the Thakur’s son and brother. Years later, the Thakur’s son, Vijay Singh returns to the village and is warned against the curse of the girl’s spirit on his family that killed his ancestors and is advised to stay away from his ancestral home. However, Vijay resists their warnings and lives there, also hiring a detective to look into the matter. This movie, loosely based around Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘The Hound of Baskerville’ still haunts viewers decades after its release.
3. Kohraa (1964)
This drama mystery and musical is a re-imagination of Du Maurier’s Rebecca, where a recently wed Rajeshwari moves into the mansion of her husband, Amit. While Amit goes away on a trip, Rajeshwari is shocked to realise that the spirit of his ex-wife, Poonam, continues to haunt their happy home. Left alone, she decides to unravel the dark secrets that reside in that mansion.
4. Raat (1992)
This supernatural thriller, inspired by the film The Exorcist, is one of the most powerful movies by director Ram Gopal Verma. The storyline is about the Sharma family who move into a new house in a suburban locality. The events of the movie revolve around a cat found by Bunty, the nephew of the Sharma family and the incidents following the death of the cat. Strange activities surround the household and soon, the family seek the help of an exorcist when Mini, their daughter and the protagonist of the story get possessed.
5. Raaz (2002)
This 2002 box office stirrer, Raaz, is the first one of the Raaz series and was believed to have brought horror back to Bollywood back then. An adaptation of the Hollywood film ‘What Lies Beneath’ by Michelle Pfieffer, Raaz is a story about a married couple, Sanjana and Aditya, who travel to Ooty on holiday and to give their marriage another chance, while unaware of the strange sightings awaiting them there.
6. 1920 (2008)
This horror thriller by Vikram Bhatt is a great mix of the right lighting, camera and sound effect to definitely leave you at the edge of you seats. The story is about a couple where the hero, Arjun, gives up on his family and faith to be with Lisa, the woman he loves. After moving to their new house in Palampur, Arjun is shocked to see that that Lisa gets possessed by a demoniac spirit.
7. 13B (2009)
If you’re a fan of horror films, then 13 B is one such movie which is a must watch! With a great script and powerful delivery by the cast, it is one movie that you shouldn’t miss. Manohar and his family move into a new apartment on the 13th floor of a building where their peace is disturbed by a spirit that uses a soap opera telecasted only on his television, to tell him about the future of his family.
8. Bhoot (2003)
Another great Ram Gopal Verma thriller, Bhoot, has a powerful cast and effects to raise the hair on your necks. When a married couple moves into a new apartment, unbeknown to the presence of a spirit in their new house, a series of strange and eerie incidents drive the wife to near madness. The husband now has to protect his wife from going completely insane and keep her safe.
9. Darna Mana Hai (2003)
Darna Mana Hai, an Indian anthological horror drama which consists of a series of six different sub stories narrated throughout the running time. Loosely based on the movie ‘The Campfire Tales’, this movie is about seven friends that get stuck in the middle of the forest because of their car breaking down and seek refuge in an abandoned manor. Six of them make it to the house, except one. To keep each other entertained and amused in the silent night, these friends tell each other short supernatural, horror stories around a bonfire.
10. Tumbbad (2018)
This 2018 fantasy drama combines horror with mythology. The story revolves around a family that builds a shrine for Hastar, a monster who is not to be worshipped and the first born of a powerful goddess, and attempts to look for and get their hands on his cursed wealth and treasure, they face harsh consequences.
Bollywood audience, as well as filmmakers, have often believed that the industry does not do as good a job at horror or thriller movies, as compared to other genres like romance or comedy. Though Bollywood is known to have not so great horror movies, we’re sure that these picks will definitely give you a tough time falling asleep at night. These movies are a must-watch for anyone who is a fan of films of the horror or thriller genre as the storyline, cast, effects, lighting and camera angles of these ones are surely going to leave you sitting on the edge! Some other great horror movies from Bollywood that didn’t make it to this list but are a must watch are Ragini MMS (2011), Phoonk (2008), Horror Story (2013) and Shaapit (2010).
Are you brave enough to watch them alone?