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Bollywood launches its first zombie films to win back viewers

ZombieWill zombie films win back Bollywood viewers? (Courtesy REUTERS/Yuya Shino)

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 dead.

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 released the first of the three Hindi films, Rise of the Zombie, on Friday, and hope twinning zombies with Indian filmmaking will appeal to younger audiences.

"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.

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.

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.

- Shilpa Jamkhandikar, Reuters



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To entice them BACK to Indian movies? These guys are out of their mind to write something of that sort. The hysteria that surrounds Indian movies amongst its fans is nothing compared to the reception that a Hollywood movies gets in India. The rate at which Indian movies are being played across the world is also something to now.

Being in Toronto, Eaton Centre/Square 1/AMC Winston Churchill are always playing 1 or 2 Indian movies. Many more smaller theatres play Indian movies as well and there are 3 fully Indian movie theatres in the G.T.A which play only Indian movies.

Viacom/Fox/Disney/Sony Pictures all four are producing Bollywood movies now too. To make zombie movies in Hindi is just making a different kind of Bollywood movie. Nowhere does it mean that there is a shortage of footfalls for Indian movies...

This is to gain new fans, not to 'gain back' any fans.

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