Bollywood Horrors: Religion, Violence and Cinematic Fears in India (Bloomsbury, 2020) is a multi-faceted and wide-ranging collection that examines cinematic representations of real-life horror, the religious aspects of horror imagery and themes, and the ways in which Hindi films have projected “cinematic fears” onto the screen. Part I, “Atrocity”, deals with Bollywood's representation of the real horrors of communal violence, rape culture, and human trafficking. In Part II (“Religion”) the role of myth, ritual, and colonial constructions in producing the generic conventions of Hindi horror are discussed. Contributors focus on the stereotype of the tantric magician found in Indian literature beginning in the medieval period; the myth of the fearsome goddess Durga's slaying of the Buffalo Demon; and the surprising role of religion in the importation of Gothic tropes into Indian films, told through the little-known story of Sir Devendra Prasad Varma. The final part - “Cinematic Fears” - explores three particular facets or exemplars of Bollywood horror: the 2002 film Raaz, the role of non-domestic haunted or uncanny spaces in Hindi cinema, and the aesthetics of film posters and song booklets advertising horror films.
Raj Balkaran is a scholar, educator, consultant, and life coach. For information see rajbalkaran.com.