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Roller Ghoster Ride

I see no political party in poll-bound Tamil Nadu has chosen to address the chief social menace that the State is reeling under for the last two-three years.  I am, as you would have likely guessed, referring to the problem of ghost movies, generally known in the circles as ‘horror films’.

We have now reached a stage where every third movie released these days seems to belong to this genre. And almost every one of them –-  we have to put this down to this to the effect of paranormal forces –– is basically the same, and all presented in the same irritatingly icy, eerie, blood-splotched fonts.  See, this format doesn’t allow even the title design to be different. You can just say horror movies are more formulaic than –- ahem –- a humour column.

You, of course, have seen them all: There will be a ghost with abnormal abilities and can do anything it wants. It is, if you get down to it, Rajnikanth, but without that one impossible power that he exhibited in Lingaa, which was to read a book much before it was written and published.

In a typical horror movie, the ghost is the villain element that tries to outwit the hero or the heroine all through, but in the end it loses, most likely because the story and structure are way too boring.

Also, there is no fun being ghosts. They get to live only in cobwebbed corners of intimidating houses. Why ghosts never choose a pub or disco or the Parliament house to haunt beats me.  Probably, there is a strict moral code in place in the ghost world or it is an universe completely under the control of the Taliban.

Ghosts also get to wear either black or white dress only making many wonder whether they are doing time for the extreme sin of having been an advocate in their earthly birth.

As we said, ghosts or vampires get to domicile in creaky houses, which even if they are situated say, right next to Koyambedu market, will somehow see no other human in the vicinity and the vulnerable hero or heroine, even if they are courier delivery personnel, will choose to visit late in the night only. (Cue: Howling dog sound).

As the hero or heroine prepares to enter the house, you, sitting in the audience, will feel like shouting, “Yov! You have a tennis ball for brain or what? The house looks plain spooky. Even the street dog, which has never been to kindergarten, is howling from a safe distance and you still want to enter in. If I were you, I will not only sprint away but actually get out of this story and take up some other fun film like Premam‘.

But your well-meaning words will fall on heavily-waxed ears. So don’t even bother trying.

If ghost stories on celluloid are predictable, they are even more so in real life. Most of us haven’t had any experience with them. But we all have that one friend or relative, who will claim to know people who have encountered ghosts in real life. Encounters with ghosts is seldom a first-person story.  Also, plot contrivances and last-minute cop out in real-life ghost stories re-telling is even more pat.

Back in our days, four of us friends, one night — this subject crops up mostly then only, confirming that reality is far more corny than a B-grade movie  — got around discussing dracula type creatures. The talk eventually reached the inevitable point: Can any one of us visit a graveyard alone in the dark hours?

Three of us hemmed and hawed, the fourth friend, typically the big-talking bravado guy that every gang has to have, proclaimed that he was ready for the challenge and will come back with a handful of sand for proof. Even though we really hadn’t a clue how we can tell apart normal sand from the one picked from near a cemetery, we decided to play along. The plan was that he would go alone and come back with the sand while the rest of us would hang together and tail him without his knowledge.

As it happened, on the chosen night, in an uncanny coincidence, the three of us couldn’t make it for different reasons. But what of the guy who had volunteered to go alone? Well, this is where the story gets very tricky and real intriguing. He said he did set out on that night and when he was just a street away from the nearby graveyard, there was unexpected lightning and thunder. It had also started raining. ‘I could hear an owl hoot from somewhere,’ he said. “It was then an elfin-like man appeared from nowhere and asked me to stop”. Who was he?  As the short-statured man sidled up him in –– we could almost hear our friend’s heart pound at this moment –- the power was gone and it was pitch dark.

And then…jee whiz! power is gone here too now and the UPS too doesn’t seem to be working. If I don’t finish this it means ghos…