Haunted tales

Haunted tales

New show

Haunted tales

Ghost hunters: Rocky and Mayur in a still from ‘India’s Most Haunted’.

There are hunters and then there are ghost hunters. And by the end of my tete-a-tete with the ghost hunting duo, abound with stories of the paranormal and inexplicable tales, I knew that I was in for some sleepless nights. Best friends, business partners, co-anchors of the popular show Highway On My Plate, and now ghost hunters, Rocky Singh and Mayur Sharma don’t need any introduction. While their quest for good food has taken them all across the country, India’s Most Haunted, a new reality series launched by NDTV Good Times, fuels their quest to decipher the world of the paranormal and supernatural, taking them to myriad haunted locales with untold tales of the feared and the unknown. “Stories of the supernatural are part of the very culture and fabric of our country,” says Mayur, “everyone has some story or legend to share.”

Rocky, who incidentally is also the director of the show, reveals, “India’s Most Haunted is something that I have been passionate about for a very long time. Through the show, we tell wonderful, colourful stories of India with the respect and authenticity that these tales deserve.” The show is essentially a scientific probe into the realm of the unknown, with the sole objective of uncovering the truth behind each of these tales. Rocky goes on to elaborate, “It is not glorification of the supernatural. Our brand of reality is brutally honest and real. If there is nothing out there, we will come back with nothing.”

The opening episode of India’s Most Haunted recreates the events of the fateful night when Rocky and Mayur, along with some friends, visited Jamali Kamali, a heritage site located in the Archeological Village Complex in Mehrauli, New Delhi. A first hand account of what happened 20 years ago, narrated by Rocky, and how it became a turning point in his life, gave me goosebumps. A dark shadowy figure, earlier spotted by Rocky on a wall, jumped onto the roof of their jeep, and seemed to take fancy to one of their friends, who had dared to look out to see what had landed on their vehicle. This particular friend, Vikas, was apparently slapped, held by the neck, while a dozen invisible hands pulled and threw him into the back of the jeep.

It was only when Rocky reached out to help him with his hands stretched out did the ‘thing’ finally fly out through the window, into the night, giving the impression of “gallons of oil flowing out”. The imprint of the hand that had slapped Vikas, stayed on for a few days but the experience lingers on in their minds till date. While the incident left everyone shaken, it sparked off an interest in Rocky, who then spent the next 15 years of his life researching and travelling to places which were reputed to be haunted. These travels provided fodder for many an article that he has written on the subject.

Apart from Rocky’s treasure trove of knowledge, what’s crucial to the team’s mission are the tools of the ghost hunters’ trade. They work with infrared cameras that can capture footage in pitch black darkness and even record what the naked eye can’t see. Then, there are the Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP) recorders that pick up sound waves that would otherwise be inaudible to humans. Add to that, motion sensors, infrared laser thermometers and tri-field natural electromagnetic meters.

But shooting a series on the supernatural and paranormal comes with its inherent set of challenges. “Late nights, desolate locations, snakes, spiders and the exhaustion of shooting 23 hours at a stretch,” reveals Mayur. While the TV crew has been extremely brave, I am sure when it comes to us, most of us would happily decline the offer to spend the night in the supposedly ‘haunted city’ of Bhangarh in Rajasthan, especially when you have huge stones being hurled at you, “coming out of nowhere”. Nor would there be many willing takers for solo investigative sessions, like the ones conducted by Rocky and Mayur inside Tunnel 103 in Shimla, or in the Abbey in Uttarakhand, where locals narrate their experiences with apparitions.

The suspense during these solo sessions is nerve-racking. To add to the spook factor, we see Rocky trying to communicate with the spirits, urging that they come forth and reveal themselves. However, one imminent question running through everyone’s mind is whether the duo is ever scared? While Mayur is candid enough to admit that he is one of us, petrified on most occasions, Rocky says that he doesn’t let fear affect his composure.

He goes on to share an interesting theory. Rocky believes that “if a person’s aura is radiating, which means if we are convinced about our identity and have a certain level of grounding and presence, then our aura strengthens and begins to radiate. At that time, it is very difficult for anything to come close.” Without debating this theory, I can clearly see how he manages to hold the unit together and as executive producer of the show, Monica Narula, says, “Rocky gives a lot of encouragement and infuses strength into the show.”

If you are the kind who appreciates honest tales of supernatural beliefs, then, go right ahead and indulge your senses.

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox