I’m going to take a little break from the American and English traditions of haunted house fiction. For now it’s “Goodbye Hollywood and Hello Bollywood!” But let me be frank. I’m not very familiar with Bollywood films. Just to prove my ignorance, I’m not even sure if Haunted – 3D by Vikram Bhatt is a “Bollywood” film. I had once assumed all Hindi Language films from India were part of the Bollywood scene, but this is not so. According to wikipedia, Bollywood is one of many film production companies in India. Bollywood or no Bollywood, Haunted – 3D is part of a genre known as the Indian ghost movie.
Popular not only in India, Indian ghost movies are well liked in the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia. How about the U.S? Well, wikipedia doesn’t list the United States as being a treasure trove for such films. I’m only going by what the friendly folks of this online encyclopedia say. If true, maybe all that will change once my fellow Americans discover this article. Millions of Americans will see this blog post and decide “Hey! Maybe I should give these films a chance!” Ha! I can only wish for that many page hits. I found this film on youtube. I’m guessing that if there were to be a place on the Internet capable of making Indian ghost stories available to Americans, it would be youtube.com
A common theme in Indian ghost stories is that of a modern person who unwittingly encounters ghostly happenings that link to events that have happened a long time ago. Such is the case in Haunted -3D. A young man named Rehan is asked by his realtor father to investigate a house that is on the market. Little does Rehan know that the house is haunted. But he soon finds out soon enough. As he settles in to stay and sleep at this house, he witnesses many things. Doors are slamming, books are falling off the shelf, a piano begins to play on its own accord, and ghostly handprints appear on the windows. Then there is the crying and screaming that occurs in the middle of the night. This is what disturbs Rehan the most. Disturbs and…intrigues him. For it is a female voice that cries out in the dark of night. He makes it his job to de-haunt the house. In doing so, he will travel back to the past to make things right. He will help the beautiful Meera deal with the tragic events that took place in her life and in her time – seventy-five years in the past.
When I think of Indian films, I think of music. I think of dancing. Singing and dancing is what I would always see when I would flip through the TV channels on a Saturday afternoon and stop on a Hindi language program. Should it then be surprising to encounter singing and dancing in a horror movie? There is plenty of music in Haunted-3D. These are love songs – pop songs. There is one dancing scene as well but it is done in humor. See, this film is as much of a love story as it is a ghost story. This fusion is not uncommon in Indian ghost stories. In fact, romance is at the heart of the gothic tradition, especially the stories written in the 18th century.
Haunted-3D is many things at once. It’s a love story that’s both sat and uplifting. It’s funny and quirky. Some scenes are action packed. Some scenes are brutal to watch. Other scenes are downright campy. It has ghosts, evil spirits and time travel. I am still trying to figure out if this mish-mash of styles worked for me or not. At times I felt as if I was receiving a well-rounded education in the genre arts. Other times, I felt as if I was watching a film with an identity crisis; a film that was trying to be too many things. I cannot say which scene or set of scenes made me feel one way or another. This ambivalence seems only to exist as a whole and cannot be broken down to the sum of the film’s parts. Despite this ambivalence, I did enjoy the film. It is worth watching but at the same time it is a little long at two hours and twenty minutes. Since I saw this film on the computer screen, I did see it in 3D. There were parts of the film that were crying out for 3D glasses. Alas, I had none. The dialogue is spoken in Hindi, but there are English subtitles. However, the characters speak in English from time to time.
I’d like to close this review on a good note. The special effects in this film are awesome. They’re done with style; they didn’t over do it. Ghosts materialize; evil spirits possess the body – kudos to these creepy scenes. The best is when an evil spirit chases a couple through a forest. The spirit runs in midair! It’s as if there was an invisible platform far above the couple’s heads. This did not look cheesy. Instead, the chase appears so damn real! Bizarre I’ll grant you, but nevertheless – real.