In the 1980s, ghost stories were limited to B-grade Bollywood movies such as Veerana and Purana Mandir or to the classics made by Ramsay Brothers. Their unique selling point was sex. They were soft desi porn, wrapped in a ghost’s body and spirit. And one scene was common to all of them — the ghost or ‘saitan’ only attacks the damsel when she is taking a shower.
Although, these movies were widely criticised, the audience loved them. But, over the years, because the cast never comprised A-graders, the craze for such Bollywood ghost movies faded away. Hollywood, at that time was dishing out Draculas and Exorcists, which had an audience that loved to scream in fear, but, they lacked the sex appeal that their counterparts in B-town had.
Cut to today, after so many years, Hollywood has learned the trick, and has even modified it. It has managed to make ghosts and the slayers sexy. Now, you watch television dramas like Supernatural or Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the looks, style and cool-quotient of the ghost or the demon and its slayer. On the silverscreen, sagas like Twilight or Evolution are more popular for the sex appeal of Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, or for the designer leather jackets and tights of the lycans. But popularity, certainly, is not for the fear factor. A friend of mine, who was afraid of the dark and even shuddered at the thought of the title track of a popular television horror series Aahat, now watches Supernatural like IPL. The charm of the Winchester Brothers helped her win over her childhood fear of ghosts. B-town, on the other hand, has not been able to capitalise on its legacy. Good or ugly, some of us still recall a few of the titles of that era, but, most of us even shudder at the thought of remembering the ghost movies that were dished out by RGV like Agyaat or Ghost or Darling or Phoonk. We simply lost the opportunity. Times have changed, but, the taste of audience hasn’t — unless the ghost is sexy, it’s not worth getting scared.