Cast: R Madhavan, Neetu Chandra, Sachin Khedekar, Murali Sharma, Deepak Dobriyal
Direction: Vikram K Kumar
If, of late, you’ve been puzzled about the increasingly unreal serials that populate your TV screen, there could be an explanation you wouldn’t have thought of in a thousand TV watching hours — ghosts. You’ve heard of ghost-writing, now prepare for ghost-acting. 13 B’s enterprising spooks act in (and presumably direct) a soap that is certainly bizarre enough for Indian television. However, this spooky serial airs exclusively on just one TV set — that belonging to a joint family that moves into apartment 13 B in a new residential building. And the plot bears an eerie resemblance to the family’s own life.
Strangely, only Manohar, the younger son (Madhavan), cottons on, even though his mother (Poonam Dhillon), wife Priya (Neetu Chandra) and sister-in-law are hooked on to the serial. That’s because, you see, the spooks have trained their sights on Manohar. The lift refuses to move when he steps in, he sends the neighbour’s dog into a frenzy, his mobile phone goes berserk when taking his pictures... all while the rest of the family trundles along happily. It’s when the spooks target Priya that he panics and begins unravelling the mystery with the help of his police officer friend (Murali Sharma).
If you like horror films, this one’s par for the course, especially in the first half, where Vikram K Kumar uses the TV set for an interesting premise, the actors do their bit and the camera picks up suitably weird angles. But the second half deteriorates into an ear-shattering scream fest, especially with the entry of Ashok, played by Deepak Dobriyal with a manic face and voice. Worse, the film falls back on weary clichés in the climax — those mandatory streaks of lightning on a rainy night, lights that go out, characters walking about eerily with candles, lots of blood and a background score that unfailingly warns you of impending doom. The spook family, we’re told, came to its gory end in 1977. Clearly, many things have changed since then, but not the staples of the Indian horror film.