An Ex TV producer's diary excerpts on her true experiences with the paranormal.
Entry 1: The First Shoot
Entry 2: The Abandoned Jail
Entry 3: A reality show contestant is led through unknown routes in the theatre by an entity not of this world.
21st Sept 2011
11 days and I’m still not completely over…whatever had happened. My stomach was violently upset for four days and the retching just wouldn’t stop. I’m so glad that we are leaving this haunted state and heading to one of my favourite shoot cities – Lucknow and it’s melt-in-the-mouth Tunde Kebabs. Those little pieces from meat heaven can almost make me forget what we are going to do in Lucknow…spend a night in a haunted theatre.
This theatre was the pride and joy of its locality in the mid-80s – until about 3 months after it opened, the place caught fire during the night show. Some people say it was the projectionist’s cigarette that caused the fire, others say it was a short circuit, but quite a few perished in the chaos that ensued – people jumped out of the second floor canteen window to their deaths, kids and women were crushed beneath stampeding feet and the projectionist – well, his charred body was found in the middle of melted reels of film. It took the owner 6 months to get the theatre up and running again.
But strange things began happening – No projectionist stayed longer than 10 days because they claimed that their living quarters (in a wing adjoining the Projection room) were haunted by the dead projectionist. They could hear him whistling tunelessly in the night as the smell of phantom cigarettes permeated their room. Theatre ushers started seeing “people” sitting in the seats long after the show was over. The heart-wrenching wails of a young mother looking for her son could be heard echoing down the hallways. The last straw was when the ticket booking clerk was found dead in the upstairs quarters (where no one lived) – he had strangled himself with raw film…at least that’s what the papers said. Soon, the theatre shut down.
Sounds exciting. Not really. Can’t wait for another one of these.
The 2nd floor canteen with the wailing woman
22nd Sept 2011
There was no sense of time inside the theatre; the reigning feeling was one of anxiety. We clustered closer and moved in a group – no one in the mood to explore on their own. The ticket counter was in the basement level with a narrow winding staircase being the only way to get there – how’s that for creepy?
We started with the main theatre hall – as we moved to the screen area, it felt weird because I’ve never stood right in front of a screen in a theatre…but my slight sense of amusement died a quick death when we moved to the area behind the screen – it had a grid running through the top where the technicians could crouch and walk around. The paranormal investigators were doing their thing and recording their usual questions on their EVP recorder – “Is anyone here?”, “Would you like to talk to us?”, “We are not here to harm you” – they did that everywhere. Suddenly, one of the investigators gave a gasp and asked if anyone else saw that movement on the grid…the dark floating mass that just disappeared. None of us has seen it; I tried telling myself that it’s her job to create intrigue – you know, justify her place here. But the little hairs that stood to attention on the back of my neck refused to buy it. Again, I felt an overwhelming NEED to just get the hell out. Thankfully, we moved ahead and decided to check out the Projection room.
It was a strange room with a projector still there- forlorn and abandoned. Instead of scared, I started feeling sad – this surge of unwarranted feelings confused me greatly. But before I had a chance to assess this, the investigator called us out – she had something to show us. Though we didn’t hear anything to any of their questions downstairs, it appeared as if the EVP recorder had picked up something sinister. She played back the portion for us recorded in the area behind the screen –
“Is anyone here?” nothing. Step step step and the beeping of the EMF calculator. “Is there anyone here who would like to talk to us?” And then, the growling. It is the eeriest sound I have heard – like gravel being crushed in a mixer, but with such a strong sinister vibe to it that it could not be something as inanimate as gravel. “We are not here to hurt you.” And the growl again, but this time, it was much closer…like it was coming from right behind the investigator. “We are here to help you” and the growl again, but this time it seemed to be like a wave – like whatever was making that sound was moving all around her – left to right. Dread gripped me so hard that it was difficult to breathe. And the investigator – I could see the fear pollute her face as she turned chalky. I knew she was not faking it – this was not some shady con where she just went off and growled into the recorder to freak us out and make this a better story.
This shit is real.
The balcony where contestant 2 was not alone
24th Sept 2011
Today it happened with a contestant, not a crew member. Contestant 2 had the worst task of all – she had to go down to the ticket counter, pick up a ticket left for her, walk all the way up the winding staircase to enter the balcony where she had to sit in her seat till instructed otherwise. We could see her moving through the various cameras we had rigged along the staircase...we watched her take the last steps down towards the ticket window, but the minute she stepped up to the counter, we lost the feed from the camera positioned right above the booth. We didn’t panic then; it was when we heard her talk that we knew something was off. “Shit! You scared me!” we heard nothing in response, but then she continued, “sorry sorry…at least yeh toh bata deejiye aur kitna time chalne walaa hai yeh sab?” The director immediately cursed on the walkie-talkie and wanted to know which crew member was out there ruining the show. No one was there – each of the 4 members checked in from their spots. The host was asked to check in with our contestant – but she didn’t respond to him on the walkie. Nor could we see her on any of the other feeds or hear her on her mike. An AD was send to the basement immediately, but there was no one there. The contestant has simply disappeared into thin air. As we were panicking trying to figure out our next move, the sound recordist squealed that he could hear her! She was thanking someone and telling them that she won’t tell anyone about it. We then saw her entering the balcony and taking a seat, not ruffled at all! What the fuck just happened??
We quizzed her after the shoot and at first, she was nervous about telling us. But then she said that she bumped into one of the crew members near the ticket booth. She couldn’t see him in the dark and he didn’t speak, but she knew it was because the crew was instructed not to talk to them – you know, keep the whole “you are alone in a haunted place” vibe strong.
Both the director and I had lost our voice. He finally asked her how she had gone to the balcony area as we didn’t see her in any of the cameras on the way there. She laughed sheepishly and said that the guy took her through a short cut – through the projectionist’s living quarters. She ended with saying that she knew we would not tell her who it was, but if we could just thank him for her – it was really sweet of him to watch over her from the left corner of the balcony as she sat there.
We checked her self-cam footage – she actually is talking to someone, but we can’t see anyone but her in that. Her night vision camera went blank as soon as she met the “crew member” – just like the one rigged above the ticket booth. Nothing but a clip of this stupid, stupid girl talking to something not from our world.
By Rachna Mahadevan