The Indian film industry cannot boast of great horror films of the kind seen in other film industries. Yet, some movies have managed to leave a mark, thanks to film makers like Vikram Bhatt and Ram Gopal Varma, who have kept at the horror film genre for decades. Here are 10 of India’s best horror films.

Haunted — 3D, 2011

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Director: Vikram Bhatt
Starring: Mahaakshay Chakraborty, Twinkle Bajpai, Achint Kaur, Arif Zakaria

The premise of Haunted is simple: a realtor puts a mansion up for sale, only to realize that it’s haunted by two supernatural entities. Yet, what makes it stand out is its special effects — it was India’s first 3D horror film.

The movie received mixed critical reviews, but did wonders at the Box Office, recording the highest opening ever for an Indian horror film.

1920, (2008)

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Director: Vikram Bhatt
Starring: Rajneesh Duggal, Adah Sharma, Anjori Alagh

Set in the year 1920, the story centres on the life of a married couple living in a haunted mansion. The husband, who forsakes his family and religion to marry his wife, returns home after a business trip to find his wife possessed by what appears to be a powerful demonic entity.

1920 was well received by both critics and audiences. It was remade in Telugu before the sequel was released in 2013.

Vaastu Shastra, 2004


Director: Saurab Narang
Starring: Sushmita Sen, J. D. Chakravarthy

Vaastu Shastra revolves around the life of a family — husband, wife, wife’s sister, and kids — who move into a new house in the suburbs of Mumbai. All seems well for the couple before they realize that their son’s been making “friends” at home. These imaginary friends seem harmless until their son becomes obsessed with them. The plot moves along as we find out who these friends actually are.

The film did well at the Box Office, and was later dubbed into Telugu as Marri Chettu.

Bhoot, 2003


Director: Ram Gopal Varma
Starring: Ajay Devgan, Urmila Matondkar, Fardeen Khan, Rekha, Nana Patekar, Seema Biswas, Victor Banerjee

Bhoot is the story of a married couple who feel the presence of a supernatural entity in their new high-rise apartment that they’ve bought at a ridiculously low price. Soon, things take a turn for the worse when the wife begins to get possessed by what appears to be the ghost of the woman who committed suicide after killing her son in this apartment.

The film didn’t feature any songs, unlike the Bollywood films of the time. It became a box office hit upon release and Urmila Matondkar won high praise from critics and audiences alike for her stellar performance. The film was dubbed in Telugu as 12 va Anthasthu and remade in Tamil as Shock. Nine years later, the sequel Bhoot Returns was released.

Raat, 1992


Director: Ram Gopal Varma
Starring: Revathi, Jeethendra Reddy, Rohini Hattangadi, Akash Khurana, Om Puri, Nana Patekar

Raat begins with a family of four moving into a new house with a reputation. Not long after they settle in, strange events begin to unfold, like the return of a dead kitten and the death of the daughter’s friend. The family struggles to pin down the reasons behind these strange occurrences, when they realize it could actually be supernatural.

The film was well received by critics and emerged a Box Office hit. It was later dubbed into Telugu as Raatri.

Ragini MMS, 2011

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Director: Pawan Kripalani
Starring: Rajkummar Rao, Kainaz Motivala

Inspired by the American horror film Paranormal Activity, Ragini MMS is the story of a couple who head to a farmhouse for some fun and relaxation, only to end up in the grip of a supernatural entity.

The makers of the film tried to experiment with the Indian horror film genre in Ragini MMS by using the found footage style. Although the critical reception was mixed, the film was well received at the Box Office, and recovered its cost within two days of its release. A sequel to the film, Ragini MMS 2 was released in 2014.

Click, 2010

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Director: Sangeeth Sivan
Starring: Shreyas Talpade, Sadha, Sneha Ullal, Rehan Khan, Chunky Pandey

Based on the 2004 Thai horror film Shutter, Click follows the life of a couple — a photographer and his girlfriend — whose lives are overturned as they begin to experience traumatic nightmares and physical pain after having run over a woman one fateful night.

The film couldn’t recreate the magic of Shutter and ended up being a Box Office flop.

Raaz, 2002


Director: Vikram Bhatt
Starring: Bipasha Basu, Dino Morea, Malini Sharma, Ashutosh Rana

An adaptation of the American horror-thriller flick What Lies Beneath, Raaz explores the story of a couple who on moving to Ooty for a vacation to save their marriage realize that their house is haunted. The couple get embroiled in this supernatural turn of events, as they fight to escape from this unnatural predicament.

Raaz received high praise from the audiences and did very well at the Box Office. Bipasha Basu received a Filmfare Best Actress Award nomination for her role in this film.

13 B: Fear Has a New Address, 2009


Director: Vikram Kumar
Starring: R. Madhavan, Neetu Chandra, Sachin Khedekar, Deepak Dobriyal, Murli Sharma

A man moves into a new apartment with his family and starts witnessing strange incidents occurring in the house. Perhaps the strangest of all is when he watches his family’s life being aired as a TV show. Through the broadcast, he sees his family’s grim future and vows to stop it.

The film was released simultaneously in Tamil and Hindi languages. Both films were declared hits at their respective Box Offices.

Kohraa, 1964

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Director: Biren Nag
Starring: Waheeda Rehman, Biswajeet, Lalita Pawar

An adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s 1938 novel Rebecca, Kohra revolves around one newly wed woman’s discovery of the fact that her new home — an imposing mansion — is haunted by her husband’s first wife, who had died here under mysterious circumstances.

Two years after the release of the original novel, Alfred Hitchcock adapted this story in his Academy Award-winning film Rebecca. Kohraa released 24 years later, but with a surprise twist at the end that differs from the original novel. This is one of the best Bollywood horror films ever.

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