While we don’t really find many good Hindi horror films, two films released last year (2018): PARI and TUMBBAD are perfect examples of what we can expect from modern-day filmmakers. Indian filmmakers often find criticism for their substandard stories full of clichés, but these two are different.
These two films are deep-rooted in terms of history and folklore, while in treatment — the makers have presented the stories with an impressive atmospheric thrill and horror. We don’t really see many jumps scares or those of weird facial make-ups to drive horror. There is a genuine story in play with enough mystery, suspense, and scare.
PARI – Mysterious and creepy
With Prosit Roy directed supernatural horror film “PARI: Not A Fairytale,” Bollywood has finally produced a decent horror movie of recent times. This is even more special because it is a part of the mainstream film industry, and it came 15 years after the release of Ram Gopal Varma’s award-winning film “Bhoot” (2003).
PARI in Hindi means fairy and the title tagline says that there is no fairytale story in this. The movie has its quaint settings in the city of Kolkata – the dream city for every creative person, as it simply allows you to flow in your imagination and vision. However, the film has not used much of the imagery of the city.
Nonetheless, PARI follows a man Arnab (Parambrata Chatterjee) who rescues a woman named Rukhsana (Anushka Sharma) from a forest by the road where (it seems) she was trapped for long with some sort of abuse by somebody. Arnab, as a result of a series of events, brings her to home and there start the eerie events that have the potential to unsettle any level of horror movie buffs.
The film has kind of implemented folklore, cult involving exorcism, satanic rituals, and the idea of oppression of the weak by those, who consider themselves as the protector of the moral values of the society.
PARI has its share of cliché, but there are promising elements in the overall direction with a tight narration, enough mystery, and emotion in the story to keep you engaged till the end. Also, the film has been brilliantly acted by its main actors, especially to notice the duality in Anushka’s character.
Director: Prosit Roy
Starring: Anushka Sharma Kohli, Parambrata Chatterjee, and Rajat Kapoor.
Genres: Horror, Fantasy
TUMBBAD – A mythical horror story with a message
TUMBBAD, a story based on some rural myth, follows a man’s greed that pushes him to face the monster to gain some ancient ancestral fortune. Directed by Rahi Anil Barve and Adesh Prasad, this is an incredible piece of period horror that has a good mixture of mythological legend, ancient monster, and the good old moral tale.
The film is visually stunning as we are introduced with the cursed village name TUMBBAD in the British Raj. The phantasmagoric story takes us back to 1913 when we meet the protagonist Vinayak Rao as a child who lives with his mother and brother in the village where the demon god Hastar is living for centuries.
Vinayak learns that his chained-up grandmother is living a cursed life filled with agony, as she is also the victim of her greed and hence cursed by the demon God Hastar. After his encounter with her zombified grandmother, he learns the secret of hidden treasure, but he was forced to move away from the village after his brother died mysteriously.
The movie then advances to 1947, when Vinayak’s greed has not let him forgotten the gold, the fortune hidden in his ancestral home, and he returns to fetch the same. TUMBBAD then focuses more on the Vinayak’s braveness in tricking the demon and collecting gold coins.
Later in the story, we see Vinayak passing the task to his son and there where the story becomes more interesting in their willingness to leave aside fear in search of the cursed treasure.
TUMBBAD is one of those films that are spectacularly designed with artistic elements allover. Those scenes with incessant rain, a crumbling mansion with no one around, and the monster itself make the overall experience unique and effective. Nevertheless, we find the real horror of the film in man’s nature and the ability to do anything for greed.
Director: Rahi Anil Barve, Adesh Prasad
Starring: Sohum Shah, Jyoti Malshe, Dhundhiraj Prabhakar Jogalekar, Anita Date, Deepak Damle
Genres: Horror, Fantasy