The horror genre of Hindi movies has often been mocked for being comedy in disguise and honestly, ever since Vishesh Films took the title of self-proclaimed horror experts in Hindi cinema, horror isn't scary anymore.
Watching various horror films from across the world, the audience has learnt that when it comes to horror movies, storytelling is way more important than the story itself and Bollywood saw a near-perfect example of that in the 1992 film, Raat.
Directed by Ram Gopal Varma during his heyday, Raat, remains one of the best horror movies made in Hindi cinema. The film released 25 years ago but still retains the capacity of giving us nightmares.
But it wasn't the story of the film that had something spectacular, it was the way the story was told. The film is about a haunted house where a family moves in. The college-going girl, also the protagonist (played by Revathi), gets possessed by the spirit of the house and starts harming and killing those around her.
In a short story summary, there is nothing outstanding about the story but yet Raat manages to remain outstanding and the credit for the same goes to RGV.
It is the film's technical plus points that are to be credited for its cult status.
The long takes consistently followed a character that made the audience invest so deeply that a jump scare actually made us jump. The camera acted like a second person and even though we did't see the ghost of the house (for almost the entirety of the film), the director made us believe in its existence by shaking the camera just enough.
The scene where Revathi's character is shown sitting in a movie theatre but then is shown running to the manager's cabin makes us buy into the psychological thriller. The innocent and docile way in which the spirit possessed Revathi accepts killing her best friend is eerily convincing.
While the mainstream films of the 90s were full of song and dance, this film has no song breaks and that makes it more compelling to watch. That being said, the background music of the film was simply outstanding. It added to the supernatural vibe of the movie. The music builds up when something big is about to happen and even though it prepares the audience for the incoming shock, it still manages to shock us.
Another positive that hugely contributes to the film's success is the restrained use of dialogue. RGV was not scared of attempting things that weren't the norm of the movies and he did the same with this one as well. The characters silently followed the directions and often suggested meaning without using any dialogue.
With fine actors like Revathi, Rohini Hattangadi, Akash Khurana and Om Puri, the film stood strong on its shoulders for all these years and still enjoys a cult status.
In an era when RGV has lost his midas touch and horror has lost its relevance, Raat reminds us that horror is s genre that will always remain elusive to makers.