Horror movies aren’t for everyone. The ominous music, the jump scares, the forewarning of impending gore and violence, it can all be a bit much sometimes. That’s why we have horror-comedies. Adding a little humour to the mix is a great way to make horror palatable for people who would otherwise watch these films with their eyes half-closed and fingers plugging their ears. It’s a trick Indian film-makers have used—knowingly or unknowingly—quite well over the years. In Bollywood, you can look at films like Stree, Go Goa Gone, and Bhediya. But some of the best horror-comedies in India come from regional cinema, complete with incredible technical skills and top quality performances.
With spooky season upon us, why not shake things up for your Halloween horror movie marathon? Throw these regional gems into the mix to ensure some laughs alongside your heebie-jeebies.
1. Bhooter Bhabishyat
Bengali literature is brimming with works of horror-comedy but very few have been successfully translated to the visual medium. Anik Dutta’s 2012 release Bhooter Bhabishyat is one of the few Bengali horror-comedies that nailed the brief. Essentially a story within a story, the film follows the life of an aspiring director who meets a mysterious man in an abandoned mansion that once belonged to Bengali zamindars. The mystery man pitches a script to the director, which serves as the narrative for the rest of the film. The negative effects of urbanisation, selfish real estate development and the repercussions of rewriting history are on full display in this must-watch horror-comedy.
Available on Amazon Prime Video
2. Affraa Taffri
This 2020 Gujarati-language film directed by Viral Rao is an enjoyable cocktail of horror, comedy and drama. The premise itself is bizarre enough to make you laugh. A family patriarch’s dying wish is to see his granddaughter get married. The granddaughter in question? A ghost. Even in the paranormal world, women are being asked, “Lagan kyare karse?” Starring Khushi Shah, Mitra Gadhvi, Chetan Gaiya and Shekhar Shukla, Affraa Taffri makes some cutting social commentary while delivering on both scares and laughs.
Available on YouTube
Yes, the title is a pretty bad pun, but the film has a lot more to offer. A Marathi horror-comedy set in Mumbai’s Dombivli suburb, the film chronicles the lives of three young friends played by Amey Wagh, Lalit Prabhakar and Vaidehi Parashurami. Directed by Aditya Sarpotdar, this is the first horror-comedy from the Marathi film industry and has been lauded for its stellar background score, stunning visuals and impressive dry humour.
Available on Zee5
Using a Ouija board as a device to connect with the metaphysical realm is no novelty. But using it to summon spirits that make you jump around with laughter is almost unheard of. Jithu Madhavan’s debut film Romancham is a Malayalam-language horror-comedy that pulls off this rare feat. Seven bachelors living in a rented Bengaluru house (this is horror enough, to be honest) let curiosity get the better of them and open their doors for supernatural flatmates. The organic screenplay and easy-to-follow writing work in the film’s favour, making it one of the finest films in the genre.
Available on Disney+ Hotstar
Starring superstar actors Prabhu Deva and Tamannaah Bhatia, this Tamil-language horror-comedy is bereft of the overused jump scares and double entendres common to the genre, making it a delightful watch. A happy-go-lucky Krishna (played by Prabhu Deva) is forced into a marriage with Devi (Tamannnaah Bhatia). The couple move into a house that was previously inhabited by an aspiring actress who ended her life after being turned down for a role. Now, she’s inhabiting Devi’s body in order to fulfil her dreams of making it big on the silver screen. Once the film enters spooky territory, Prabhu Deva’s physical comedy and effortless timing punch up the film’s humour quotient.
Available on Zee5
6. Anando Brahma
Horror-comedies tend to follow a template. People move into a new house, the house is inhabited by ghosts and then the inevitable encounter between the living and the un-dead forms the basis for jokes and scares. That’s why Mahi V Raghav’s fresh take is an impressive watch. He flips the horror-comedy archetype on its head, making the ghosts scared of the human visitors. Starring Taapsee Pannu, Srinivas Reddy, Vennela Kishore, Thagubothu Ramesh and Shakalaka Shankar, Anando Brahma avoids all the cliches and delivers a good balance of laughs and scares.
Available on Zee5