For decades, the Indian film industry has often relegated the horror genre to the shadows. Unlike its global counterparts, where horror and creature features have carved a niche, the Indian audience has historically viewed these genres with scepticism and indifference.

This phenomenon is not merely a matter of taste but a reflection of the industry’s erstwhile inability to deliver quality content in this division.

However, a notable exception exists in Maddock Films, which has bravely ventured into the gothic abyss, attempting to acquaint the ‘virgin minds’ of Indian audiences with the macabre and the monstrous.

In the annals of Indian cinema, horror films have seldom transcended the formulaic boundaries of garish makeup, over-the-top dramatics, and hackneyed plotlines. Classic attempts such as the Ramsay Brothers’ oeuvre, while nostalgic, often bordered on the comedic rather than the terrifying. Movies like “Purana Mandir,” “Tahkhana,” “Dak Bangla,” and “Veerana” are emblematic of this era, more kitsch than quiver-inducing.

Compare this to the chilling brilliance of global horror. Japanese films like “Ju-On: The Grudge” and “Gamera, The Giant Monster (1965),” or “Cronos (1993),” William Friedkin’s “The Exorcist” (1973), and more have set benchmarks for storytelling, psychological depth, and social commentary. These films show how horror can transcend mere fright to explore existential angst.

In this context of global excellence and local mediocrity, Maddock Films bloom!

This production house has dared to tiptoe into the murky waters of horror and creature features, striving to deliver narratives that resonate with contemporary sensibilities. “Stree” (2018) is a seminal example. Directed by Amar Kaushik, this film intertwines folklore with modernity, blending humour and horror to entertain and render reflection. The tale of a vengeful female spirit, “Stree”, is not merely a ghost story but a commentary on societal attitudes towards women, thereby adding layers to its narrative.

Similarly, “Roohi” (2021), another Maddock Films venture, attempts to build on this template. While it received a mixed response, it is undeniable that the film tried to push the envelope with its portrayal of supernatural possession and dark humour. Despite their imperfections, these films signify a crucial departure from the clichéd ghost-in-the-bungalow trope and reflect an effort to create a uniquely Indian horror aesthetic.

Followed by Munjya, a riveting horror-comedy inspired by a haunting folk tale from Maharashtra’s Konkan region. The narrative unfurls around Munjya, a boy who transforms into a menacing demon after his untimely demise post-thread ceremony. Shunned by his village, Munjya’s restless spirit haunts a secluded grove, biding its time to find a suitable vessel for his unfulfilled matrimonial desire. Enter the easily terrified Bittu (Abhay Verma), whose lineage ties him to Munjya’s cursed village. Entangled in his unrequited love for his college companion Bela (Sharvari Wagh), Bittu unwittingly becomes the chosen conduit for Munjya’s sinister aspirations.

Yet, the journey towards crafting a rugged horror genre in India is far from complete. Though encouraging, the success of these films is a nascent step.

The Indian film industry must cave deeper into the cultural psyche, unearth local myths and fears, and blend them with universal horror elements to create that ‘spark.’

Just as Maddock Films has initiated this dialogue, others can take inspiration!

The Indian audience, too, must evolve in its reception. There is a need for a ‘blueprint’ shift from viewing horror as mere entertainment to appreciating it as a potent medium for storytelling and social critique.

While the Indian horror genre and the audience have historically taken the back seat, Maddock Films ‘tip-toes’ to nourish the audience with the nuance of the ‘horror’ universe.

Deserves a round of applause!