Bollywood Courts the Undead
Monster movies have enthralled audiences since the dawn of the cinematic age. Zombies in particular have shambled into the hearts of thrill-seeking audiences. Each remake starring these ghoulish, brain-craving drones is interpreted to capitalize on the fears of its age: from communism and conformity to viral outbreaks and radiation. The zombie is a canvas that filmmakers use to projects the popular fears of society. Now, with arms outstretched, Bollywood is lurching into the territory of the B-grade monster movie.
Shaadi of the Dead (Wedding of the Dead) aims to replicate the success of the rom-zom-com, or romantic zombie comedy, such as Shaun of the Dead (2004), starring British comic Simon Pegg, and Zombieland (2009), with Woody Harrelson. The plot centres around a zombie invasion at a Punjabi wedding and stars Abhay Deol with up-and-comer Genelia D’Souza as the romantic interest.
Shaadi of the Dead is due for release next year and will be vying for audiences with another Bollywood zombie film that’s being released almost simultaneously: Go Goa Gone, stars Saif Ali Khan who leads a team of youth to “fight an army of the undead in the Indian resort state of Goa.”
Shaadi of the Dead director Navdeep Singh is banking on the novelty of the genre to appeal to the changing tastes of younger demographics.
“We feel this idea of a zombie film is very fresh,” he told AFP. “It will be India’s first zombie film. It is something that has never been tried in the Hindi film industry, and so we feel it will work.”
In the 1970s and 1980s, the Ramsay brothers released a string of schlock horror monster films, including Hotel, Purana Mandir (The Old Temple), Veerana (Wilderness), and Purani Haveli (The Old Mansion). These movies remain cult classics in India, but since then many filmmakers have returned to the defacto (if well-worn) theme of love and romance set to music.
How Indian audiences will react to the madcap, theme park-style ride promised by the zombie flick is generating a lot of speculation. However, one of the most interesting questions, considering the vast majority of Indians believe in cremation, is—where will the undead hordes come from?