Since the nineties, Bollywood horror fans have seen several Bollywood horror movies going the franchise way. Not just horror franchises, mainstream audiences have seen several franchises as well. Historians will tell you that Indian audiences haven’t warmed to franchises, or, for that matter, Bollywood horror films. In fact, big budget films with franchises didn’t happen until the nineties. There were spin-offs of popular characters. For example, Soorma Bhopali, who was in the film Sholay, featured in a few films, but that thing never gathered steam, Then again, IS Johar made several Johar in ‘X’ (a geographical area). He made Johar Mehmood in Goa in 1965 and then followed it with Johar in Kashmir in 1966 and then Johar in Bombay in 1967. He followed that up with Johar Mehmood in Hong Kong in 1971. That was the last film in that sequence of releases.
In 1986, Harmesh Malhotra made Nagina, one of the most successful Bollywood Horror movies. Nagina cast Sridevi in the titular role. The other members of the cast were Rishi Kapoor, Amrish Puri, Sushma Seth, Prem Chopra and others. This film rejuvenated interest in supernatural and occult films. So much so, the producers decided to make a sequel – arguably India’s first horror sequel – Nigahen. Research points that this was the first Indian franchise. Though, I wouldn’t be surprised if some obscure film had some obscure sequel. That’s just Bollywood being Bollywood.
Nigahein starred Sridevi, Sunny Deol, Anupam Kher and others. This was not just a unique Bollywood horror film, but a unique Bollywood film as well. A macho actor like Sunny Deol was playing second fiddle to Sridevi. That should tell newer audiences about her starpower back in those days. Sunny and Rishi have both done this later in Damini. Unfortunately, Nigahen did not do well at the box office. Going back, there seem to be two reasons for this. One, Sridevi’s voice somehow seems off in the sequel. Secondly, Anupam Kher’s Gorakh Nath doesn’t hold a candle to Amrish Puri’s classic act as the wise sage who’s gone power hungry.
Audiences can now watch both these films for free over at YouTube: