The Khaufnaak Maut of Horror Films

Pop Culture

The Khaufnaak Maut of Horror Films

Illustration: Akshita Monga


hen I was 10 years old, I lived next to an eerie graveyard. The burial ground sat peacefully next to the government colony we resided in and for most of the time, it went largely unnoticed except as a background setting to my busy 10-year-old life. Until the day I sat through two hours and seven minutes of the Ramsay Brothers’ Do Gaz Zameen Ke Neeche.

Back when the movie released in 1972, posters had screamed “India’s First Horror Movie”. Those were three clickbaity words that the 10-year-old me had instantly memorised when I stumbled upon it in the early noughties. The film’s plot begins with a murder – Anjali kills her husband, Rajvansh, with the help of her lover, Anand, and goes into the “horror” zone when they take the iron box, storing the body, to the graveyard. While Anjali huffs and puffs in her pink sari, wearing a scary expression and gawdy make up, in the dead of the night, a grave is being dug, effortlessly synchronised to the melodramatic background score. I remember the first stirrings of fear. It was a surprising new feeling. I hadn’t yet been acquainted with the expression “chill down my spine” but that afternoon I felt it.