Now showing: The making of ‘101Phir Se Ramsay’.
Waiting eagerly at the Art House for Saasha Ramsay and Shyam Ramsay to arrive is more nerve-wracking than I can express. Having been a devout fan since I was two feet high and their show-time was past bedtime, I couldn’t believe I was here – interacting with the kings of horror about the upcoming web series for 101India.
The stalwarts of hammer horror in India, the Ramsays heralded the genre in Indian cinema since the ‘80s. Images of Veeraana and Zee Horror Show pop up in your mind, don’t they?
With a childhood where witches, vampires and ghastly spectres were rife in conversation (and perhaps even appearance), I had imagined Ramsay’s daughter to be a kaftan-wearing, kohl-eyed woman. My mind had to shift gears though, as this bright young woman in a stiletto-print crisp white shirt walked towards me, with a smile as bright as day.
Prop shop for Ramsay movies
While most people would define the scariest moment of their lives to happen in their late 30s & 40s, young Ramsay had hers’ at age 5 - during the making of the film Purana Mandir. Seeing a ghost in its entirety walk across you was an imaginably terrifying experience for a child. She was in shock. To help her recover, her father took her back to the set – making her sit in that very ghost’s lap as the artists peeled off his make-up and reveal the human underneath the monster. In fact, Shyam Ramsay went so far as introducing the ghost as her ‘uncle’.
Perhaps that’s why she also defines the incident as the turning point of her life. That was when innocent, childlike fear transformed to fun and passion for cinema. By age 16 she knew she was going to be a filmmaker and continue the proud Ramsay legacy of horror.
The famous seductress/witch. Image source: firstpost.com
Particularly attached to the film Veeraana, Saasha has followed the making intently, also falling in love with the protagonist - Jasmine. The transformation of Jasmine from an entrancing, attractive woman to a chilling witch is her favourite phenomenon. So deep is her love for Jasmine that she is looking at making a sequel, having created many characters inspired from the original.
As we talk about the many props being so integral to the Ramsays films, I ask her how she plans to use them in her upcoming web series. Shrugging, she explained that though she has used some props here & there, she doesn’t personally connect much with them. She added jokingly, “My father was very kind to the dead, giving them huge graves in his movies. I don’t know if I can be as kind as him. Even in real life, I am the bad cop.”
Walking down memory lane
It doesn’t take much time to gauge the intensity of some relationships, as an afternoon with the Ramsays taught me. Besides the mammoth impact her father had on her professionally, the two are also heartwarmingly close - Saasha being as protective of him as he is of her. “It was a Sunday afternoon and dad was heading out. He asked me if I wanted to come along. Thinking it was going to be a regular Sunday drive for ice cream, I was surprised to see an entire production team behind us when I entered. When he said we were en route to the dentist’s, I thought he had tricked me into coming! Only when we reached I understood that we were actually there to get dentures for the witch in Veeraana. It was quite a unique car journey for a kid.”
Bonding over our mutual love for Desperate Housewives, Saasha expressed her passion for dark drama. We spoke about the scariest scenes from Conjuring (*clap clap*) and Evil Dead - two of her favorite modern horror films.
While discussing her love for travel and the shared fascination of the Ramsay unit with the Northern hills and Mahabaleshwar in particular, we listened to Shyam Ramsay intently explaining the role of music in his films. Nodding in agreement, she spoke about the pathbreaking songs from those films; her favourite being Woh Beteein Din (Purana Mandir), Saathi Mere Saathi (Veeraana) and Tere Jaise Koi Nahi (Hotel). Goosebumps run down my arms as she explains the visuals of the songs.
From the web series #101PhirSeRamsay
With a gap of almost two decades between the beginning of her career and the waning of her father’s, they realize things have changed a lot. Graphics, the variety and quality of grading, sound effects, gloss – everything that’s commonplace today was not available earlier. Add to that, the vast difference in mindset. “It’s easier to make people laugh or cry, but the common challenge dad and I have is to create the element of fear. That’s a difficult task, second to which is bringing it all together.” She went on to explain her take on fear, which is far more under the sheets and subtle compared to her dads.
Cheekily titled ‘101Phir se Ramsay’, the web series is a tribute to the pulp and classic horror the Ramsay family pioneered. It is also an honest attempt to bring the style back. Saasha believes there’s no module or design that’s set in stone, only a conscious effort in sticking to the classic combination of sex, horror and gore. Trademark Ramsay. The inspirations for many of her characters are also from the old Ramsay films, such as a witch inspired by Veeraana, a vampire taken from Band Darwaaza and the dead coming alive in Dehshath. Even the ghosts pulled out from the old films have modern layers, a contemporary narrative and what she calls an ‘era mix’.
Hip Hop meets Ramsay in this music video
Pulp horror isn’t for everyone, which is where 101India comes in. If you’re looking for the subtlety of James Wan, it may be better to look the other way. This is vintage, this is gore, this is a lot of sex and this is in your freaking face.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are independent views solely of the author(s) expressed in their private capacity and do not in any way represent or reflect the views of 101India.com.
By Suman Quazi
Cover photo credit: welcomenri.com