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Bhoot: Ram Gopal Varma Brought Spirits and Destroyed Demons

Name of MovieBhoot
CastAjay Devgn, Urmila Matondkar, Tanuja, Rekha, Nana Patekar
DirectorRam Gopal Varma
WriterRam Gopal Varma
ProducerNitin Manmohan
Year of Release2003
Bhoot is a watershed moment in the history of Bollywood horror movies. The movie released in 2003, and by then, the horror genre needed someone like Ram Gopal Varma to save it. The Ramsays had almost stopped making horror movies by the early 2000s.
All the fly by night producers, the no-name actors, writers, and directors fled Mumbai or worked in the TV industry.  The Internet was alive and kicking so the sleazeballs didn’t need to cock a snook and go to the theaters to get their fix of sleaze. Very few actors now wanted to work in the horror genre.
If Varma hadn’t made Bhoot when he made it, the Bollywood horror movie would have taken a lot more time to revive than it has. After a long time, someone got A grade actors for a horror movie.  For the first time, there were no sleaze shots and no lowball comedy. This was horror like horror should be.

Bhoot Synopsis:

A young married couple, Vishal and Swati,  move into a highrise at a very low rent.  The house’s caretaker tells him the previous resident of the flat, Manjeet, committed suicide and killed her son and that’s the reason the house is available for such a low rent.
While Vishal doesn’t think twice, he doesn’t tell this to his wife, who he thinks will object to renting such a flat.  With Vishal gone most of the day, Swati ends up being alone in the house.
She has an unsavory experience with the building watchman, who comes across as a lech. Both of them complain about the watchman to the caretaker. That’s when the caretaker accidentally reveals Manjeet’s death to Swati.
She first thinks that someone else lives in the house, but Vishal refuses to believe it. After that, Swati starts sleepwalking and once experiences sleep paralysis as well.
Vishal and Swati visit a doctor and the doctor says that Swati is behaving erratically because of deep emotional trauma. The two return home and Swati has another sleepwalking episode. The next day, the watchman is dead.
The police arrive promptly and Inspector Liyaquat Qureshi begins the investigation. The Inspector questions Vishal. Vishal is scared because Swati had her last sleepwalking episode during the same night that the watchman died.
Swati’s behavior becomes more dangerous day by day. Vishal visits the doctor once again, who suggests a psychiatrist. Dr.Rajan. The next day, Swati becomes violent and Vishal and the house help have to tie her down.
As Doctor Rajan thinks that Swati might be suffering from multiple personality disorder, Inspector Liyaquat Qureshi wonders whether he has found his culprit. The house help tells Vishal that he should hire an exorcist.
Sarita, the female exorcist thinks that this is Manjeet’s soul and she hatches a plan. She tells Vishal to contact Manjeet’s mother. Vishal goes to Inspector Qureshi and though he smells a rat, he gives Vishal the address.
Vishal and Sarita bring Manjeet’s mother to visit Swati and that’s when everyone finds out the truth. They find out that the person responsible for Manjeet’s death is Sanjay, Mr. Thakkar’s son.  Vishal calls Sanjay under the ruse that his father is very ill.
When Sanjay returns, Sarita confronts him in Manjeet’s mother’s presence. While all this is going on, Inspector Liyaquat finds out that Swati has MPD and therefore wants to arrest her for the death of the watchman.
Sanjay now tries to escape, but a possessed Swati stops him and beats out a confession out of him.

Bhoot Review:

Bhoot is a landmark in Bollywood. In this movie, Ramgopal Varma achieved with chalk powder what other movie directors couldn’t – genuinely scare the audience. I can guarantee you that even after 17 years of the movie’s release, someone somewhere will have a jump scare moment when they watch this Bollywood horror movie.
With Bhoot, Bollywood horror finally came out of the wilderness and out of the warehouses and settled outright, front and center in urban India. This is not to say that Indian audiences didn’t like the Ramsay brand of horror.
Bhoot was also one of the first Bollywood horror movies to use the house as a character. In all the other movies, the house was just a prop. Unless there was a door to open and some treasure to the house was always part of the ambiance, but not part of the story.
With Ramgopal Varma’s legendary, quirky camera angles, the audiences couldn’t decide whether they were the spirits who were peeping into the Swati’s private life.  Bhoot also brought an unheard of maturity to the Bollywood horror movie script.
Bhoot also did away with the prosthetic laden demons and the fog and the talismans and the temples and the cemeteries – basically, the movie reinvented Bollywood horror with a movie that could rest right there with the Hollywood horror movies.
A policeman in the thick of things, an investigation over a watchman dying, all this was novel for an audience who had seen the body count piling up in Bollywood horror movies but the police only arresting the person they shouldn’t.
Bhoot had a downside, of course. With the success of Bhoot, everyone wanted to make a Bhoot. I still speak to scriptwriters and directors and most of them exclaim that they want to do a Bhoot after their third or fourth beverage.
With Bhoot, the joy of dissing, laughing about, and admiring the low budget Bollywood horror movie was gone. Everybody wanted to make the next Bhoot and anything over the top was banished out of the Veera Desai Road offices.
I might confess that Bhoot was above and beyond all the Bollywood horror movies I saw at that time, but it isn’t Bhoot that inspired me to set up this website. It was one of those over the top, garishly made Ramsay movies – and that’s the truth.

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