Horror films were a medium for soft porn in India: Director Raman

Prawaal Raman feels sex and erotica made an entry into horror genre in India in 1980s and 1990s, turning it a source of ‘soft porn’ for many. However, the director, who is awaiting release of his new film “Dobaara: See Your Evil”, says good horror movies with strong content always stood out from the mediocre and will continue to do so.

From “Raaz” and “Ragini MMS” franchises, “1920”, “Haunted – 3D” to “Alone”, filmmakers have for long entertained viewers with ‘horrex’, an amalgamation of horror and sex.

Raman, who has also helmed horror thrillers like “Darna Mana Hai”, “Gayab”, “Darna Zaroori hai” and “404 Error Not Found”, says low budget horror erotica was a big high for the excitement seeking adult Indian audience.

“Good horror films internationally or in India never actually depend on erotica. From ‘The Exorcist’ to ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ or from ‘Mahal’ to Aruna Raje/Vikas Desai’s ‘Gehrayee’ or Ram Gopal Varma’s ‘Raat’, or my earlier works… sex or erotica have never been part of the films and these films have worked very well or better in fact,” Raman told IANS over email from Mumbai.

He added: “Sex and erotica was incorporated because horror in 1980s and 1990s became a concept consumed by adult audience and since the censor certificate was ‘A’ it became all the way reasons to add erotica.

“To the Indian audience, horror became the medium to satisfy their need of watching soft porn/erotica… Low budget horror erotica was a big high for the excitement seeking adult Indian audience.”

Raman feels that Indians are more exposed to “low budget pulp horror”.

“We unfortunately have read and seen more about the popular horror catering to the masses — the low budget pulp horror. But from ‘Mahal’, ‘Gehrayee’, ‘Raat’, ‘Bhoot’, ‘Darna Mana Hai’ to ‘404’, the horror genre has already evolved.

“It’s what we see and how we see. Good horror always existed and it would continue to. ‘Dobaara…’ is an example yet again. It is an international concept presented to the Indian audience with horror in its truest form.”

He says it was a deliberate decion to keep sex away from the film’s narration.

“Dobaara: See Your Evil” is an official remake of the Hollywood film “Oculus”, which released in 2013. The Mike Fangan supernatural psychological horror film stars Karen Gillan and Brenton Thwaites.

It revolves around a young woman who is convinced that an antique mirror is responsible for the death and misfortune that her family suffered.

For the Indian version, Raman got Huma Qureshi and her brother Saqib Saleem on board. But Raman is averse to the idea of calling it a remake or an adaptation.

“I would not call it a remake or even adaptation. When a story is told yet again after years, it’s a different tone and space… I have given due respect to the brilliant concept of Mike but it is my take on the very spirit of the film.”

The film also features Lisa Ray and Adil Hussain and is slated to release on Friday.

Raman started his journey in Bollywood as assistant director to filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma and worked on “Jungle” and “Company”. He first picked up the camera to frame his vision with “Darna Mana Hai” in 2003 and went on to helm projects like “Gayab” and “Main Aur Charles”.

Explaining his fascination to explore dark stories, the director said: “I like subjects which let me play with viewers’ mind. My next is on a woman fighting for freedom against Pakistan… Naela Quadri Baloch, a freedom fighter from Balochistan.”

(Sugandha Rawal can be contacted at sugandha.r@ians.in)

By Sugandha Rawal

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