By Shilpa Jamkhandikar
MUMBAI, April 5 (Reuters) - Bollywood is branching out from
its traditional song-and-dance dramas and slapstick comedies
with its first zombie films which filmmakers hope will entice
younger crowds back to Indian films from Hollywood's living
Few horror films are made in Bollywood and those that do
make it to the big screen tend to focus on ghosts and the
after-life, which are common themes in Hindu mythology.
But this year, as Indian cinema celebrates 100 years, three
zombie films made in Hindi are slated for release, hoping to
compete with blockbuster U.S. zombie movies such as "Warm
Bodies" and "World War Z".
Directors Luke Kenny and Devaki Singh will release the first
of the three Hindi films, "Rise of the Zombie", on April 5, and
hope twinning zombies with Indian filmmaking will appeal to
"We've been wanting to make something like this within the
Hindi film industry set-up and we realized that within the
horror film genre nobody has ever touched the zombie genre,"
Kenny, who also stars in the film, told Reuters.
"Prepare to witness the ultimate human fear", proclaims the
film's trailer, which shows photographer Neil Parker in the
jungle fighting off a swarm of insects before transforming,
writhing and screaming, into a blood-splattered zombie.
Kenny, who has worked as content head at a music channel and
directed one previous film, a movie called "13th Floor", said
part of the challenge was to educate Indian audiences about the
living dead as the country has no zombie folklore.
But he said they managed not to "dumb down" the film, the
first of a planned trilogy, since the main target audience is
aged 18 to 25, a group likely to know about Hollywood zombies.
Other challenges were to make the film as realistic as
possible, despite severe budget limitations, and to give it
Kenny said the film was made for "less than the song and
dance sequence of a Bollywood film", with the filmmakers relying
mainly on makeup and camera effects rather than more costly
computer graphics used in Hollywood horror films.
"It's a Hindi film with international sensibilities ... The
effort on my part was to make a film that anybody in the world
can watch," he said.
Kenny's film will be followed by two more zombie films in
India this year, highlighting a trend for Indian filmmakers to
try to cater to audiences who enjoy Hollywood fare.
In May comes "Go Goa Gone", a zombie comedy by filmmakers
Krishna D.K. and Raj Nidimoru that features Saif Ali Khan, one
of Bollywood's most bankable stars, as an Indian pretending to
be a Russian zombie hunter.
The trailer, which bills the film as a "zomcom", has
attracted more than 2.3 million hits since late March.
A third film, "Rock the Shaadi" ("Rock the Wedding"), will
come out later in the year, accompanied by a graphic novel.
"My producers and I realize that there is a market there for
films that are in this genre, and that market will only grow,"
"Hopefully, when we make the second and third parts of the
film, we'll be able to mount it on a bigger scale."
(Reporting by Shilpa Jamkhandikar, editing by Elaine Lies and