If the 90s were naughty, the next decade was an explosion of new things in Bollywood. India was ‘woke’ to liberalization and the fever of a ‘new millennium’ was all around. Everything that wasn’t ‘new’, ‘best’, ‘modern’ was out. Even Bollywood opened up in this decade, with many, many models getting their first films. Aryan Vaid was one of them. In all this, the Ramsays were still going strong, churning out films almost every year. In 2003, the Ramsay Brothers returned with ‘Ghutan’, their Bollywood horror film.
‘Ghutan’ begins with Ravi (Aryan Vaid) and his friend, Jaggu (Tarun Arora) enter a graveyard. What they think they have is the dead body of Ravi’s wife, Catherine (Heena Rehman). When they are about to bury her, they find out that she’s actually alive. Even as she begs them to kill her and then bury her, the duo decides to give her a death by suffocation.
The audience finds out that in a flashback about why Aryan and Jaggu killed Catherine. Ravi is now in a relationship with his secretary, Priya Malhotra (Pooja Bharthi). Catherine’s spirit haunting Aryan, Jaggu and Priya. She also levels her hate against a house help.
In this mix comes a priest, who Catherine’s spirit had first gone to when she realized that she had died. There’s also the police inspector Shahnawaz Khan, who suspects foul play in Catherine’s death.
Ghutan is proof that Ramsays want to bring out new, more creative stories. The storyline is quite different from their previous horror films. In ‘Ghutan’, the spirit doesn’t want to kill everyone responsible for her death. She wants to keep him alive and torture him. The film has a sadistic aspect not seen in many Bollywood horror films. For starters, Ravi decides that his wife should die by suffocation and not the easy way out. It is rare for a Bollywood character to plot a sadistic murder on screen. That happened in this film.
If it is a Ramsay film, you know that there will be some great effects and prosthetic work – and that’s the case in Ghutan too. Some of the camera work in the horror sequences remind us of a student showing off his proud work.
Ghutan is revolutionary in many ways when it comes to direction too. The end sequence is around 15 minutes of the spirit trying to kill the characters. That happens when the director has complete confidence in his props and actors. Then again, Catherine’s spirit is shown immune to several religious symbols. In the final sequence, Catherine is atop a car that’s Ravi is driving. That car has a Ganesha sticker. This is one of the few films where a religious symbol has no effect on the ghost. Did the Ramsays finally want to do away with their climaxes of films where ghosts are defeated by ‘Shivji ke trishuls?’, or was it just a production gaffe. We will never know.