The Ramsays don’t believe in ghosts: Saasha Shyam Ramsay
Halloween is round the corner, and it would be next to committing a sin to not talk about the original kings of horror in the Hindi film industry – the Ramsay Brothers. With just the right amounts of jump scares, ghastly makeup, shady sidekicks, and a whole lot of pulp horror, the banner created films in the late 80s and 90s that reached cult status. Their reach was not just restricted to the silver screen, but they were a late-night favourite on television, too. In a spirited chat with filmmaker Saasha Shyam Ramsay, we take a look at the family’s foray into the genre, massive fandom, and whether they believe in the supernatural.
The idea struck quite serendipitously, says the third generation Ramsay. “My grandfather worked with Prithviraj Kapoor on a film called Rustom Sohrab (1963) and there was a scene in which he puts his mask down. That scene got a huge applause from the audience and that’s where it triggered our family to create this genre,” says Saasha.
Any mention of their films, and visuals of abandoned havelis, creaking doorways and lead characters gone astray come to mind. Keeping aside the similarities in the plots, there was a distinction in the trajectory these films took. “They used to brainstorm and come up with these ideas. My father would relate to something that was happening and then make it cinematic. Papa never picked up a plot from a Hollywood film. Veerana was stuck with the censor board for over a year because it was on a very real issue, black magic,” she shares.
She and her cousins grew up on film sets, soaking up myriad experiences. She recalls: “The ambience that we created was so real, when the monster used to walk towards us, we felt as if it was a real monster. Even on a film set, you’d believe this was actually happening.” But when it comes to reel vs real, they always knew this was a job, and they would often end up playing` pranks with the props. “It’s absolutely fictional. We are pretty much settled in our minds that way that it’s only work. The Ramsay family doesn’t believe in ghosts,” she chuckles.
With the advent of technology, multiple streaming platforms and an influx of stories from around the world, the banner somewhere lost its sheen. Not ones to sit back and mull, they plan to bounce back. “A lot of hard work has gone into it. It’s in the process to keep the legacy going and we will do our best to keep it alive,” she concludes.
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