Author Roshmila Bhattacharya’s third book- Spooked!, is a collection of 36 true stories

Book launch news

After Bad Man, the biography of Gulshan Grover, and Matinee Men: My Journey Through Bollywood with 13 of Hindi cinema’s evergreen stars, senior journalist Roshmila Bhattacharya has just come out with her third book- Spooked!: Bollywood’s Encounters with the Paranormal. Published by Om Books International, it is a collection of 36 true stories of haunting and after-life, possession and exorcism, messages from the dead and miracles.

Even though horror is not a popular genre, at least a dozen scary movies are released every year with the occasional one becoming a surprise hit. A self-confessed horror film buff, Roshmila has grown up on these bhootiya kahaanis, from classics like Mahal, Madhumati and Woh Kaun Thi? toRamsay chillers Do Gaz Zameen Ke NeechePurana Mandir, and Veerana, from Ram Gopal Varma’s Bhoot, Darna Mana Hai and Phoonkh and Vikram Bhatt’s Raaz, Haunted 3D and 1920 franchisesto the more recent Stree, Roohi, Bhediya and the Netflix anthology Ghost Stories. While sampling this diverse menu, she began wondering if the makers, technicians and actors associated with these films had ever experienced anything out of the ordinary during shoots or even away from the arc lights.

Over the years, in the course of many interviews, she heard about many such paranormal encounters. And during the lockdown brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, the idea of this book took root. As she started making calls, the stories began to accumulate.

Veteran actor Biswajit Chatterjee, who was dubbed the ‘suspense hero from Bengal’ after his blockbuster Bollywood debut Bees Saal Baad, recalls a conversation with a ghost who had taken possession of her grandson.

A younger actor-filmmaker Neil Nitin Mukesh flashbacks to the woman in white he had spotted driving home from Film City Studio late one night.

Writer-director Vikram Bhatt recounts how for Raaz he had recreated a scream that had creeped him out for real one dark night when shooting in the reportedly haunted Mukesh Mills in Mumbai.

Actress Ranjeeta shares a vivid memory of a floating djinn she had seen chasing after a man on a street a little after midnight.

Esha Deol relives the terror in a hotel

And RajKummar Rao still wonders who pushed the light man on the Stree shoot.     

While these reminisces are eerie, others are more emotional.

Juhi Chawla remembers an unforgettable moment in hospital by her brother Bobby’s bedside.

Singer-composer Jeet Gannguli is convinced a hit Sadak 2 song was a last gift from his musician father.

Rajniesh Duggall admits he has felt his late grandmother’s protective aura around him for twenty-two years.

Some like the couple Tannishtha Chatterjee dined with in Venice mirror the mysteries of the universe while writer-filmmaker Abhishek Kapoor believes it was a miracle that brought two drone operators to the Kedarnath shoot.

Producer Tanuj Garg is still pondering over whether the dilapidated bungalow in Dahanu where they shot Ragini MMS was really haunted, but composer Shantanu Moitra, who has been climbing mountains for a long time, has accepted that things happen there that can’t be explained.

Spooked! Bollywood’s Encounters with the Paranormal, is a collection of stories that have baffled some and terrified many. Stories of chakwas, yakshis and AI omnipresence that go beyond this world and make us believe in the ‘others’ who inhabit an alternate reality.

And what makes it a one-of-its-kind book is that these stories come from film sets and the personal lives of the Bollywood fraternity.

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