A group of people assembled and stranded on an island, by an unknown entity.
Bollywood and horror are not a natural mix on screen.
That said, many filmmakers over the years have managed to terrify audiences with ghostly tales and sinister narratives.
But where some directors have failed expectations, Indian music composers have exceeded them.
Clearly, visuals aren’t everything. Play a Lata Mangeshkar CD, close your eyes and let her voice draw you into a frightening fantasy.
If that’s not sufficient, playing some modern tracks sung by contemporary singers is equally spine-chilling. However, which particular tracks should you listen to?
DESIblitz presents 16 of the most haunting Bollywood horror songs.
Aayega Aanewala ~ Mahal (1949)
Ashok Kumar in a deserted mansion, during the late hour of the night.
He hears an unknown female voice and watches this mysterious figure swinging quickly.
The figure appears to be Madhubala. This gothic composition by Khemchand Prakash and voice of Lata Ji will give goosebumps!
Tere Bina Aag Yeh Chandni ~ Awara (1951)
In this Shankar-Jaikishan tune, Raj Kapoor has an eccentric nightmare.
This song is very melodic but particularly, it’s Lata Ji’s pronunciation of ‘Aaja’ which raises the hair on the back of our necks.
Plus, references to ‘Chandni’ and the repeated clock sounds create menacing images in our head.
Aaja Re Pardesi ~ Madhumati (1955)
In this Salil Choudhary track, we see a tribal girl, Madhumati (Vyjayanthimala) whose singing has haunted engineer, Devendra (Dilip Kumar).
One also watches an innocent Vyjayanthimala running into the woods.
Moreover, these simple lyrics by Shailendra foreshadow the potential dangers of Dev and Madhumati’s love-story.
Lag Jaa Gale ~ Woh Kaun Thi? (1964)
“Embrace me as this beautiful night will not come again. Perhaps we may not meet again in this lifetime.”
This is what the cryptic Madan Mohan track emphasises.
Manoj Kumar is shown to be in love with this girl called Sandhya (Sadhana). But does this girl actually exist?
Gumnaam Hai Koi ~ Gumnaam (1965)
By far the creepiest Lata Mangeshkar song. Imagine a group of people assembled and stranded on an island, by an unknown entity:
“Kisko khabar kaun hai woh… Anjaan hai koi.”
Throughout the movie, an anonymous voice sings the song and the audience are also kept in the dark.
Plus, Shankar-Jaikishan’s use of howling noises enhances this ambiguity.
Mera Saaya ~ Mera Saaya (1966)
“Tu jahaan jahan chalega, mera saaya saath hoga,” translating to ‘wherever you go, my shadow will remain with you’.
This is what Sadhana as Sunil Dutt’s deceased wife sings throughout the film as he remembers her.
If only she isn’t dead?
Sansaar Ki Har Shay ~ Dhund (1973)
Ravi’s music and crooned by Mahendra Kapoor. It plays at the beginning as the titles roll on-screen.
The lyrics are quite philosophical highlighting the mysterious paths of life and how this is a fog (‘Dhund’) in our lives. But the video shows something else.
Dark shots of a deserted road, a forest with tall pine-trees. There’s no knowing where the film is going.
Listen to our playlist of Bollywood Horror Songs here:
Jaadu Teri Nazar ~ Darr (1993)
Surprised? Well, don’t be.
This is perhaps one of the most haunting compositions of Shiv-Hari and sung by Udit Narayan, and rightly so!
At the beginning of Darr, we see Juhi Chawla merrily listening to the song, mistaking it to be Sunny Deol.
The lyrics: “Kuch bhi bar jaaonga main deewana,” reinforce the crazy obsession of Rahul (Shahrukh Khan). Don’t pick up the phone KKKkiran!
Who’s that? ~Kaun (1999)
Sandeep Chowta’s song gives goosebumps, especially because of the sound effects ranging from rainfalls, creaky-door and howling wind.
Furthermore, Urmila Matondkar and Manoj Bajpai’s exchange of dialogues are very ambiguous.
Don’t open the door if you hear a knock!
Aaja Gufaon Mein – Aks (2001)
Aks is possibly the first time we heard creepy melodies composed by Anu Malik.
Vasundhara Das’s husky voice and the tune itself encompasses mystery.
Plus, the reference to ‘gufaon’ (meaning ‘caves’) enhances this. KK singing: “Aaja gunaah karle,” (encouraging to commit a sin) is quite unsettling!
Aapke Pyaar Mein ~ Raaz (2002)
This Nadeem-Shravan track with Alka Yagnik at the main vocals is nothing less than haunting as it depicts Malini Sharma and Dino Morea’s cursed love-story:
“Woh mil gaya jiski humein kabse talaash thi. Bechain si, in saason mein janmo ki pyaas thi,” foretells that Malini wouldn’t leave him in life or death!
Bhoot Hai Yahan Koi ~Bhoot (2003)
Asha Bhosle’s deep voice is uber-scary.
Plus, the use of witch cackling and other sound-effects develops a supernatural ambience. Music is by Salim-Sulaiman.
Suna Suna ~ Krishna Cottage (2004)
Suna Suna by Anu Malik is one of Shreya Ghoshal’s best.
The steady keyboard notes at the beginning are quite eerie. The chorus: “Tera intezaar hai aaja,” creates a gothic feel. As such, the chimes and violin enhances this sentiment. Spooky!
Mere Dholna ~ Bhool Bhulaiyaa (2007)
The Pritam tune which freaked us all out.
Yet again, Shreya Ghoshal spooks with foreboding lyrics:
“Meri chaahatein toh fiza mein bahengi, zinda rahegi hoke fanaa,” demonstrating that Manjulika’s love is immortal.
If this doesn’t frighten you, then Vidya Balan’s avatar certainly will!
Muskaanein Jhooti Hai ~ Talaash (2012)
Suman Sridhar’s squeaky voice creates a strange, murky atmosphere.
The words: “Yeh hai gumraahon ka raasta,” enhance the ambiguity of the track as it talks about a street for those led astray.
But which street is this exactly? That is the question. The composition is by Ram Sampath.
Lori of death ~ Ragini MMS 2 (2014)
Arpita Chakraborty’s vocals are hair-raising. Especially in the chorus: “Soja varna daayan, kaat khayegi,” (sleep or else the witch will bite), which lures the listener in.
Chirantan Bhatt’s soothing composition is the trick here!
Overall, these are some haunting Bollywood songs to make your evening horrific.
STATUTORY WARNING ~ Make sure you keep your lights on whilst listening!