Diabolical. Rivetting. Scary. Intriguing. These are usually the words that come to your mind while watching an out and out horror flick, but sadly, Ghost Stories, an anthology of horror stories that see some of the big names wielding the megaphone for the first time in the horror genre is neither of the above words. There is a lot to explore in the horror genre, but for Ghost Stories, none of the directors seemed to have banked upon.
However, Horror is a restrictive genre. Traditionally, it is associated with whipping up loud, quick-fix tricks that guarantee instant scares, which is why script, performances and originality are not pivotal in a horror flick. Most A-list artistes and filmmakers normally desist from participating in the genre primarily because of this same reason.
Zoya Akhtar, Dibakar Banerjee, Anurag Kashyap and Karan Johar who collaborated last year for the anthology Lust Stories, joined hands again to send a chill down your spine for a horror anthology, but it fails to grab the eyeballs as Lust Stories did. The industry's highest regarded contemporary filmmakers took a chance with experimenting in the horror genre, but let's see if it really did work.
Zoya Akhtar's story talks about abandonment starring Jahnvi Kapoor, Surekha Sikri and is definitely a winner in the anthology. The story opens with a young nurse, Sameera (Janhvi Kapoor) arriving to attend an ailing old lady (Surekha Sikri), in an old, desolate house. The old lady's son is mentioned, yet is missing and she behaves as if he is sleeping in the next room. The plot is sinister, but it doesn't seem too scary.
Anurag Kashyap’s film too is up next and talks of psychosis and mental health issues. Shot to create a near-black and white impact, the film follows a pregnant young woman (Sobhita Dhulipala) and her little nephew. The movie isn't a ghost story as such but is still a psychological thriller and the climax is sure to disturb you and throw you off track.
The story by Dibakar Banerjee talks of the caste system and a zombie apocalypse and is sure to set the right-wingers bay for his blood. The film, starring Sukant Goel with a couple of exceptionally talented child artistes, is an allegory to a dystopian future much like the times we are headed in the current political climate. Gulshan Devaiah stars in this film and will surprise you with his fine acting chops.
The last one by Karan Johar relies heavily on cliches and is the most underwhelming of the lot. The segment also boasted of a roster of talented stars such as Avinash Tiwary, Mrunal Thakur, Kusha Kapila, Jyoti Subhash. However, the scares are predictable and the plot seems like your average scary Bollywood movie.
While the filmmakers may have faltered a bit in their efforts in churning out scares and frights, the cinematographers have done a brilliant job. The music too is perfectly eerie. While we liked the stories in parts, the whole product is rather mediocre and incapable of creating any impact.