The decades old horror show Aahat returned to small screens this week with its sixth season. While the channel obviously promotes Aahat as 'THE scary show', the fact is that it scarcely gives you goose bumps.
Almost every horror show to have aired on Indian TV since the advent of cable of TV has failed to serve its purpose - that of inducing fear in the viewers.
So, why have we failed time and again at horror shows? Why do we resort to flying victims and cracking window panes for the fear factor? Do we lack a good, scary script or are we short on the technology?
Here, we take a look at five horror shows from across the world that have managed to keep the audience scared and five Hindi horror shows that continue to ridicule the genre on Indian TV.
It is possibly one of the best shows on TV right now, at least after Breaking Bad concluded its era-defining run. Black Mirror comes from the genius mind of British satirist and commentator Charlie Brooker. Primarily about humanity’s growing dependence on technology (the titular Black Mirror could be any device in our hands), the show offers spine-tingling sci-fi scenarios, which are all the more scary because they might actually turn into reality some day. Notable episodes are The Entire History of You, Be Right Back and Fifteen Million Merits.
The Twilight Zone
This is the classic 60’s series by Rod Serling, not the random failed reboots. The Twilight Zone defined television for an era. In many ways, it was the spiritual precursor to Black Mirror (it is also an anthology series). Featuring mind-bending, pulpy, intelligent, allegorical entertainment and more guest stars than one TV fanatic can count, it has inspired generations. It remains, to this day, a cult classic.
Bates Motel is a show with fine pedigree and big shoes to fill. It is a prequel to Alfred Hitchcock’s classic horror movie Psycho and the showrunner is Carlton Cuse of ‘Lost’ fame. Exploring the tense and super-creepy relationship between Norman Bates and his mother, the show is set in the iconic Bates Motel. What makes this show great is the fact that it doesn’t rely on cheap scares. It is first and foremost a dramatic thriller, a coming-of-age drama that just happens to feature Norman Bates. The fact that we know the outcome of these characters’ stories doesn’t change a thing. It’s the journey that counts.
The Walking Dead
Cable’s most popular show is one about the walking dead. Not the titular zombies as one would expect, but the ones who survive. They are barely human anymore. The effects of the zombie apocalypse have been devastating on these survivors. What is more intriguing is that such a philosophically rich show is based on a hugely popular comic book by Robert Kirkman. The pace has lagged post the unceremonious departure of creator Frank Darabont, but the viewership is breaking records.
Produced by the folks behind the hit Bond film Skyfall, Sam Mendes and John Logan, Penny Dreadful, as the name suggests is schlocky, gory, gothic fun. Featuring iconic gothic characters like Frankenstein, Dorian Grey, Mina Harker and Abraham van Helsing, it also boasts a stellar cast of Timothy Dalton, Eva Green and in a stroke of genius, Josh Hartnett. The plots are gloriously absurd and over-the-top, and the actors equally hammy. The style however, is immaculate.
Fear Files (2012-2014)
Aired on Zee TV, the series harped on superstitions in the Indian society, things like stealing someone's youth and beauty with black magic and illogical things like supernatural predictions. Needless to say, the logic-less show certainly does not scare.
Kya Haadsa Kya Haqeeqat (2002-2004)
The show ran on Sony TV and established Rakshanda Khan as one of the hottest 'ghosts'. Unlike most other horror shows, Kya Hadsaa Kya Haqeeqat followed a single storyline and traced a woman who was followed by the spirit of another who was hell-bent on taking away the husband. Of course, the show was spiced up with cliches on the priorities of women in general and the over-use of stupid tricks like people flying in the air did not really help.
Mano Ya Na Mano(2006, 2010)
Bollywood actor Irrfan Khan narrrated the stories for Mano Ya Na Mano. This was by far the most believable and scary show Indian TV has produced till date.
Zee Horror Show (1993-1998)/Aahat
Aahat and Zee Horror show were the two most popular horror TV shows in 90s, when cable TV began it's invasion of Indian televisions. Both shows encashed the Indian superstitions and scary/comical make-up was the big ticket for them.
Watch the videos if you haven't yet and tell us if Indian shows do match up to what foreign TV offers.