How to evoke fear

hair-raising shows

Somehow — be it films or television — Indian producers and directors have never really been able to hit the jackpot when it comes to horror. Apart from the occasional Bhoot made by Ramgopal Verma or the more recent 13 B, horror films have largely been the butt of a number of jokes. Remember Ramsay Brothers and their C-grade semi-porn horror movies and how they have been the topic of many a college joke in the last few decades?

The scene in television was no better either. Aahat, Zee Horror Show, Shh Koi Hai... — there were quite a number of horror shows on various channels, but none could leave a mark. Even Balaji’s Koi Aane Ko Hai after its initial success has gone off air. SAB even tried to do something fresh with their ‘comedy horror show’ Bhootwala serial, though with very limited success. However, Sony plans to change it all through a new and improved version of their horror show Aahat.

But why is it that horror shows have not been able to achieve success on Indian television? Ask any producer and the answer you will get will have something to do with catering to a wide range of audience from eight to 80. Most serial makers feel that since Indian television is watched by kids and adults alike, it is difficult to give the real spine-chilling experience you see in certain Western films and shows. The balance is what producers feel, is very difficult to attain in the horror genre.
But can’t we have good horror shows for children? At least market research and television ratings point towards a great demand for horror shows for children. The maximum number of viewers for horror shows (close to 25 per cent) are from the age bracket 15 to 24 years. And since the kids and teenagers largely control the television-watching habits of families, doesn’t it make sound business sense to invest in shows for kids?

Sahara did attempt that with their Sahara Horror Show and Raat Hone Ko Hai few years back. But the fact that the names did not ring a bell in your mind, proves the point about it not attaining enough popularity.
Shoestring budgets are cited as another reason for horror shows not attaining the kind of success one would expect it to. Since such shows rely heavily on special effects which do not come in cheap, the quality of visuals you see in these shows is nowhere close to the Western shows.

But things are slowly changing in the Indian television world as well. Not only are purse strings being loosened, exotic locales are also being used for these shows to make it look more natural. For example, a number of episodes of Shh Koi Hai... were shot in Rajasthan and Manali. Few years back, this was not possible because horror shows were limited to indoors and stock shots of so-called scary scenes.
If the producers are to be believed, that is where the new series of Aahat scores. It is being produced by B P Singh and Fireworks Production, the makers of the successful show CID on Sony. The producers have spent a lot of money and effort in bringing global standard special effects which will play a key role in this version of Aahat.

The new series deals with the supernatural, paranormal and fascination for the unknown. The cases in the episodes deal with haunted houses and areas, reincarnation, dead men walking, time warp and almost everything that can disturb a good night’s sleep for someone who believes in ghosts.
The story revolves around a team of three young researchers who work for a mysterious institute of paranormal sciences. The institute is headed by a mysterious force itself and the team of researchers encounters some unnerving paranormal and supernatural cases. The serial will deal with their experiences in unraveling a number of mysteries they are forced to deal with, including the mysterious head of the institute.

Krystal, Chaitanya Choudhary and Vishal Gandhi will be seen in the lead roles of Aahat–New Series. Sreejita De from Annu Ki Ho Gayee Wah Bhai Wah is also playing a key role in the show.

Watch ‘Aahat’ on Sony Entertainment Television every Friday at 11 pm.

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