Indian silver screen has been graced by so many horror films and suspense thrillers. Same theme has been applied on the Indian television screen, which has been dominated by the horror film genre for a long time now. Some of the serials have enjoyed stupendous success while others were acclaimed critically yet didn’t manage to get the audiences’ attention. These serials were a keen part of my childhood, as I grew up watching these serials and the feeling of nostalgia while going through them again today on Youtube and user forums; is just unmatchable!
Aahat, Sony Entertainment Television
The name is almost synonymous for horror genre in India. After starting its reign of terror way back in 1996, Aahat was televised on Thursdays at 10 PM timeslot. It was first produced under Akshaya productions, but got its huge share of fame when BP Singh of CID fame took over. It wasn’t initially a ghost series, but rather focussed on all sub-genres of suspense and horror. For instance, an episode covered the theme of gambling; wherein a poor father needs money to pay for his son’s operation. Another episode featured on the zombie nature of a nightclub, where strange incidents keep happening. Each episode told a unique story, refreshing and engrossing. Aahat in my opinion had the best story-telling technique on Indian television amongst all the serials I have seen. Many great actors acted in Aahat as well. R Madhavan, Mandira Bedi, Govind Namdeo, Om Puri, Mohan Gokhale, Shivaji Satam and multiple other well known faces today were a part of Aahat series.
Aahat managed to sustain its popularity even in the 2nd season and 3rd also was declared a hit. However, the magic of the first season was very difficult to replicate. 4th and 5th season, didn’t garner the expected response however! These episodes were found to be pale in comparison to the earlier Aahat seasons and expectedly, were taken down sooner rather than later. However, no one can deny that Aahat was one of the best suspense/horror serials to have graced the television screen.
Zee Horror Show, Zee TV
Zee Horror Show was a Horror show in its typical sense. It ran from the years 1993 till 1998. Produced by Ramsay brothers, audience knew what to expect. Zombies, dreading sounds and the presence of ghosts; was an essential element of any Zee Horror Show episode. Unlike Aahat, Zee Horror Show had a fixed actor set; which was utilized for almost all of its episodes. Javed Khan was hailed as the most talented actor on the television scene once, owing to his performances in this series. Others like Ajinkya Deo, Pallavi Joshi, Nishigandha Wad, Pankaj Dheer, Archana Puran Singh also gained fame through the serial. Some episode storylines were picked up from Hollywood horror movies of that time, while some were original scripts. All-in-all Zee Horror Show still remains uncontested when it comes to spreading terror and havoc amongst the Indian audience. It was a horror show in the real sense and not even single show has come near its popularity, speaks about the popularity of this show.
X-Zone, Zee TV
X-Zone was critically more acclaimed than both Zee Horror Show and Aahat, yet didn’t manage to garner the kind of popularity the other two shows got. It went on air just after Zee Horror Show went off in 1998. The storylines were different and engrossing, while the script was very much mature. However, the stories were deemed too complex by many and hence the popularity of the show suffered. Many great actors like Irrfan Khan, Kay Kay Menon, Ashutosh Rana were a part of this series. What made X-Zone special was the mix of emotions in each of its episodes. The serial focussed on different genres and was arguably the best special effect user in those days. X-Zone has a very good following still as users flock to see the episodes on sites like YouTube.
Ssshhhh…Koi Hai/ Ssshhhh…Phir Koi Hai, Star Plus
Ssshhhh…Koi Hai was aired by Star Plus as a part of its new strategy wherein the slot of 10-11 was used to air the serial. Initially it was normal horror and ghost stories, but later the concept of an ultimate crusader against ghosts and zombies in the form of Vikraal, was introduced. Show gained momentum and managed to establish itself in the minds of audience. Mamik Singh first played Vikraal and later Salil Ankola, both gained substantial fame. Funny characters like Gabraal and Lily, only managed to turn the TRP ratings a notch higher. The show returned with the other title and managed to sustain itself on the TRP scale. Initially, Ssshhhh…Phir Koi Hai aired on Star One and later on Star UTSAV.
Achanak 37 Saal Baad, Sony Television
Achanak 37 Saal Baad had a very different storyline and many unconventional viewers appreciated the concept. However, the serial failed to strike a chord with the hardcore horror fanatics. Recently Setindia has uploaded the episodes of first season and it has garnered substantial response from viewers.
Story featured on Gahota, an Indian town which experiences madness every 37 years. This is associated with deaths of several people and ends with the death of a female. The female is shown to be the mother of a devil child, whose name is Ajinkya. After he grows up, the second season starts. Faraaz Khan played the role of devil child’s mentor in the first part and gained instant recognition. Achanak 37 Saal Baad, had an unconventional thriller appeal and a very novel concept of storytelling, which wasn’t recognized well by the audience. Yet, the serial managed to garner sustainable popularity.
Woh, Zee TV
The show featured on similar lines to Achanak 37 Saal Baad; but was aired much earlier. It featured seven crusaders fighting against evil forces. Though it made its mark, the serial failed to sustain itself in the long run. Noted actors like Ashutosh Gowarikar were a part of this serial. Shreyas Talpade and Juhi Parmar; also played child roles.
Kya Haadsa Kya Haqeeqat, Sony TV
Kya Haadsa Kya Haqeeqat, explored a different genre of fear altogether. The series was a normal serial with an element of suspense. As it focussed on the life of a common girl, normal audience could associate itself more with it. The story unfolded gradually and a sequel was also released. Rajeev Khandelwal played the central character of Raj, while the female lead role was played by Geetanjali Tikekar and later Pallavi Kulkarni.
Recently, serials like Fear Files have tried to recapture the horror market but it has proved to be difficult. The serials of yesteryears had a positive impact on the audience and delivered what the audience wanted. Lack of credible horror and suspense serials, have made Indian television devoid of any excitement.