Hauntings-Echoes in Hindi Movies
Over the past few days, my friends here, would be wondering why this fixation with the word “haunting”?
I have no answers to it as to why I am so chained up to all things of the past and cherishing or romanticising the past.It is a natural past of me and will probably go up in smoke once I finish my journey on the earth.
But, I enjoy this streak of mine and suffer no guilt pangs about it.
I guess, us Indians are largely not enamoured of their past.For the millions of us, the daily challenge of keeping up the momentum of our lives overcomes the luxury of brooding over the past.
On the contrary, people from the West take great interest in most things linked to ghosts,hauntings and other weird phenomena.I get a lot of readership from such people living in the US, UK and othe western countries.
Reflections in the Hindi Cinema
Several years ago, in the early fifties, the subject of “haunting” was well captured in a Hindi movie “Mahal”The movie, that went on to become a blockbuster, did not dwell upon the subject of ghosts per se, but. drew heavily on the haunting lyrics and music of the lead number.This song was excellently rendered by Lata Mangeshkar. The lyrics went as; Aye Ga, Aye Ga , Aye Ga Aaney Wala!Translated into Hindi, it means, “The one I am pining for will come one day!”
The lead female protagonist was Madhubala, that great ethereal beauty who sprung a million desires in the hearts of the average Hindi cinema goer, recovering from the miseries and angst of Partition of India. Mahal was produced in the year 1949.
What made this movie so much an ethereally haunting film?
First, the screenplay that captured the elusive character of the heroine so subtly.One moment, she is here, the next moment she is gone-vanished!
Two, the bewildered and harried role that Ashok Kumar played – his arched eyebrows effectively conveyed his sense of bewilderment and at times.horror on seeing images in the least unexpected places and at unexpected times.
And three, of course, the timeless music composed by Ghulam Mohammed and the great lyrics of the song.Was it Shakeel Badayuni?
Since, then, there have been a slew of movies on ghosts and hauntings in the Hindi cinema like Bees Saal Bad and Madhumati.I have yet to see these two epochal movies.
Touching upon this subject, again, in the early eighties-I think it was 1980, there was this greatly successful movie, Jalmahal starring Jeetendra-often called Jumping Jack – and Rekha.
The movie set in the ancient palace of Amer, Jaipur was a modern day adaptation of Mahal, except that this time the music composer was RD Burman. Oh man, what a great composition it was the song- Main Hoon Diya, Sooni Raat Ka.(I am the lamp that glows in a forlorn night!).
The combination of the haunting song with images of the abandoned fort lent an element of authenticity to the entire story, which otherwise was about afterlife!
Finding Inspiration from abandoned historical sites
Scattered throughout India are some very well known places,forts and palaces that convey that sense of eeriness and foreboding.These sites have become a part of the Hindi movie stories.
Take the case of Bhangarh fort in Alwar, India or the Garh Kundar near Orchha, Jhansi.At Kundar, a bloody battle between two warring Rajput clans led to the annihilation of one of them in one single night!Today, not even the pigeons make the castle their homes.
Bhangarh, a few hundred kilometres from Delhi is reputed to be a cursed fort where one finds unsettling to enter even during the daytimes.
And, of course, right in the middle of Delhi, you have an ancient fort that is inhabited by djinns or ghosts and are revered by the believers.
More on the haunting side of India and Delhi in the days to come.