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A final title card suggests that a MMS of Ragini begins circulating soon after. In what was an extremely unconventional strategy, Ekta Kapoor designated hoards of auto-rickshaws across Bombay and Delhi that carried comments about the film.
In a similar vein, while film critic Pankaj Sabnani from Glamsham.
At the face of it, Ragini MMS does not involve cellphones at all; infact the technology barely even appears in the film.
What if, the film seems to be asking, the woman in the endlessly circulated image decided to punish those who make the videos? What if the image itself decides to haunt and punish its producer-distributor? It is the analog, the real body in the image that decides to wreak revenge against the image maker s ; a violent lashing out against an inherently rapacious image production and distribution set-up itself.
The image that Uday intends to supply of Ragini, and the larger image-politics Ragini MMS partakes of is the product of a specific historical-technological development. By Nokia had launched its first cellphone with video recording facility in India, within three years Youtube.
These new images were lighter, more malleable, and generally moved about with a velocity hitherto unthinkable with the traditional cinema image. Hito Steyerl provides a nuanced conceptual description of this new economy of circulation. As the roommate tries to intervene the camera presence clutches the roommate by the arm, literally pushes her out and locks the door.
Uday then picks up a bottle and throws water at Ragini, jostling her into the bathroom to get ready. We see Uday properly only when the two of them are in the car driving to their holiday spot, as they kiss in the car at which point he again surreptitiously switches the camera on or as they stop by at places to eat, shop, laze around in a beach. Its quality is bad, its resolution substandard.
As it accelerates, it deteriorates. It is a ghost of an image, a preview, a thumbnail, an itinerant image distributed for free, squeezed through slow digital connections, compressed, reproduced, ripped, as well as copied and pasted into other channels of distribution.
The poor image is a rag or a rip; an AVI or a JPEG, a lumpen proletarian in the class society of appearances, ranked and valued according to its resolution. The poor image has been uploaded, downloaded, shared, reformatted, and reedited. It transforms quality into accessibility, exhibition value into cult value, films into clips, contemplation into distraction… I t is a visual idea in its very becoming.
Its filenames are deliberately misspelled. It mocks the promises of digital technology. Not only is it often degraded to the point of being just a hurried blur, one even doubts whether it could be called an image at all Steyerl 1. Various instances of attempted sexual consummation get forcibly interrupted and aborted because of mysterious external reasons. Raj Kumar Gupta plays Adarsh, a character not too unlike Uday, who is also similarly bent on somehow making a surreptitious sex video with a girlfriend after a friend gives him a glimpse of the money prospects involved.
It constructs the woman victim of the horror as well as the monstrous-feminine, both well-established presences in the history of the horror film. The source of anxiety is not so much the sexual prurience of the young couple but the sheer possibility of being captured as the digital image. The primordial moral fear now is of the body getting de-materialized and dispersed into a plurality of multiple low-quality images that can travel uncontrollably through the endless annals of the digital world The only MMS that can be made of Ragini then cannot possibly include the usual clips of copulation or fallatio, it can at best be a cautionary clip indexing the presence of the spectral.
Gopal 99 The realm of the monster was socially and geographically contiguous often a deep basement of the Bungalow the main group lives or a ramshackled old part of a manor house and commonly known and seen physical space that characters could easily traverse and access if they wanted Gopal ibid: Gopal observes that New horror is based on individual psychology rather than community legends, cults and folklores, and focuses on upwardly mobile, urban couples that speak in the language of science, progress and development.
This new modality of horror works through affect created by technologies of sound, shaky steadicam and handheld camera movements with quick, jolting cuts ibid Also See Gopal Instead of cobwebbed, sinister looking interiors with dark hidden labyrinthine passages these films have clean, ordered, almost antiseptic looking interiors where horror is evoked through everyday material objects like fridges, televisions, cell phones, lights etc ibid.
While the Tamil version of the film went on to become a resounding commercial success, the Hindi version released as 13B: Fear Has a New Address , allegedly managed moderately good returns as well. The film also garnered relatively favorable reviews, with almost every response flagging the new distinct form of the supernatural presented in the film.
Soon Manohar realizes that the soap which has characters almost mirroring those in his family has a storyline that predicts exactly what is about to happen to his own family. Things soon take a sinister turn; the television soap shows the younger wife having a terrible accident and a subsequent miscarriage.
Manohar goes to a family friend Dr Shinde Sachin Khedekar who has some sort of knowledge of paranormal activities, who advises him to try and find out exactly what it is the ghosts inside his TV are trying to communicate to him. Within a few days, Manohar is led to discover a photo album buried deep inside his compound garden.
Extremely alarmed at the growing accidents the soap seems to be predicting, Manohar and his police inspector friend Shiva Manohar refuses to tell his whole family about the ordeal, given that he and his brother have taken a hefty loan from the bank to download this house and they have no option but to stay in it go to a newspaper archive to search for events around the time the photo is dated.
Manohar soon recognizes the photo of one of the characters in the serial in the paper. Discovering all this via old newspaper reports Manohar and Shiv try and find the asylum in which Ashok is still kept. Frantically worried about his family, Shiva rushes to Dr Shinde giving him air-tickets for his family to leave 13B and requests him to personally hand the tickets to his family. Chitra appears on screen, and addresses Shinde directly — accusing him of their murders and the unjust indictment of their brother Ashok.
After Sai Ram committed suicide Shinde decided to avenge his death killing those he thought responsible. Stunned by the sudden appearance of people he had killed years ago, Dr. Shinde starts breaking the TV screen with a hammer. Shinde however starts hallucinating. Just as Shinde advances towards the family with the hammer just like he had all those years ago Manohar reaches the flat.
Seeing the whole scene he attacks Shinde with a sledgehammer, killing him. The film ends with everything back to normal, all the electronic appliances seem to be running just fine, and the spectral presences seem to have left 13B.
The site of the ghostly shifts from the body to the TV, as the latter becomes a complex form of the body-screen. The body of the woman then becomes like a pure screen, an exteriority on which the spiritual force can inscribe meanings to be communicated to the people around her primetime television These serials cemented a certain style of presentation that became a sort of template for Indian television at large, while at the same time becoming a common and widely identifiable source of spoofs and deliberately exaggerated re-makes.
The dramatic acting, loud background scores, frequent double-takes in editing, extremely long and often incredulous story lines congealed into a sort of widely known social stereotype of Hindu upper class family relations.
These shows largely about intra-family moral crises and tribulations were supposedly targeted at female audiences, who were known to have formed intense emotional relations with them It is this larger matrix of melodramatic content, style and the recent history of emotional reception that the ghosts in 13B seem to strategically tap into. They seem to very closely emulate the intricacies of the syntax and performative address typical of the deluge of similar shows that flooded TV channels around the time.
The syrupy title song, the opening montage of a regular happy family the distinctively flat high-key lighting, the dramatic editing, the preponderance of slow zoom-in shots and the hammed up style of performances seem to have the exact ingredients of a show undistinguishable from any of the numerous popular serials produced by Balaji Telefilms at the time. Ironically it is Dr. Shinde the solitary voice that calls for a reasoned consideration of the supernatural in the film who first explains the logic of TV sets being the next abode for ghostly presences in the film.
Anyway, why do these lost souls do this — the lost souls need a medium to contact the real world. So why not a televison, change is not for the humans alone but for the spirits as well. Time changes for everyone.
The first interesting idea Shinde moots in this small exchange is the idea of television being just another in fact easier medium-body to inhabit, through which the spirits try to communicate with the real world; dissolving through this explanation the usual binary opposition set up between the supernatural and the scientific.
Secondly he suggests that just like our everyday material climates change in their constitution as everything becomes technological, the material artillery of the uncanny also changes. Technology therefore, Dr Shinde argues, should not be perceived as the habitat that erases the supernatural but one that just changes its mode of articulation. But as the screen replaces the biological body, various categories start collapsing.
The annexed television becomes a sort of interzone — an eerily permeable zone between the past and the present, the image and the body, the ghosts and the living and in some senses the virtual and the analog. The family- melodrama form allows the spectral family-in-crisis to be contemporary and forges communication with the family of the present. Soon an ominous link is formed between the television family and the real family, as the virtual image becomes a scarily clairvoyant and frightfully accurate doppelganger for real bodies.
Accidents involving bodies in virtual space start playing themselves out through similarly fatal incidents in the real — real bodies get flung in the air following the lead of their cathode-ray counterparts, people get pummeled in the head with sledgehammers; all seemingly at the behest of the television prognosis.
Concrete physiognomic masses become increasingly surrogate to a conflation between the virtual and the ghostly. The crisis in 13B can also be read in terms of a conflict between analog and the digital.
The digital world of copies of the past themselves copying a popular form of the present threatens to explode into the real and usurp the present, the image almost entirely overtaking and re-materializing the body of the spectator. Spectatorship then, becomes a fairly complex terrain in the universe of 13B. Not to be outdone, the opponent promised to give everyone, if they were elected, a free television set. Guess who won?
The one promising the TV set! People would rather go without food, without getting their daughters' married off and without providing their children proper education, than doing without their daily dose of the idiot box. This got me thinking. My story is a social commentary too. I feel a lot of people will relate to the story. So much so, that it has moved up from its modest position of being just another 'household appliance' to actually determining the power equation in a family.
It is easy to identify the hierarchy in the family depending on who controls the remote control. So what happens when the TV begins to take control? What happens when instead of showing you the facts, the TV, begins to show you what it wants you to see?
What happens when Manohar, to his great horror, realizes that this is exactly what is happening with his family, who has just moved into their new home at 13B?
Obsessive viewership becomes forced viewership - this is a TV show you have to watch, because it comes on automatically at hours everyday, during which time the TV cannot be shut off.
As the only member of the family who is not an avid television watcher, it is ironic that the possessed TV chooses Manohar for its hyper-spectatorship paradigm.
From the beginning the house is shown to have a typically robust culture of TV viewership.
The kids insist on going late to school so they can finish watching their cartoon shows, the women in the house are compulsive daily soap consumers23 - the mother passionately discusses TV shows on the phone with friends, the two wives come to mock wrestle with Manohar barely at his suggestion that the cable connection should be given up.
The film in fact establishes this avid following not as an unusual condition specific to this family, but a universal one inspector Shiva jokes about how his wife refuses to even budge to answer the door once her favorite shows are on.
At the heart of the fear 13B manages to strike is in the idea of the incompetent TV viewer — a recalcitrant TV set that refuses to abide. Interestingly, television spectatorship is also central to the lives and death of the spectral family of the past that now parades as the TV soap family everyday at hours. The installation of the black and white television is a major event, as scores of intrigued people from the neighborhood congregate outside their courtyard to watch, as the younger son Mohan Amar Upadhyay struggles to find the antennae signal on the terrace of their flat The experience of the television itself clearly belongs to an entirely different regime of materiality which the film painstakingly details — where the outer form, the large cumbersome wooden body of the TV seems to become the focus of various rituals.
The set is neatly sheathed in a wooden box adorned with two drawable curtains in front of it, akin to erstwhile cinema halls where curtains would part to announce the beginning of the film.
As the bustling neighborhood crowd outside is invited inside to watch the TV, the two brothers also bring out Ashok Deepak Dobriyal their mentally ill brother to watch their sister on the new TV.
While Ashok gets excited as he sees his sister Chitra on the screen, he begins getting very agitated as hoards of new alien faces enter their new house to see the TV. He gets a sort of nervous fit wherein he yells and tries throwing things at the new faces, and his elder brothers Mohan and Ganesh have to forcefully whisk him away and 24 The film very cleverly deploys an extra cinematic reference here, the younger brother in Sab Khairiyat Hai is played by Amar Upashyay the actor who earlier played Mihir in Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi.
Television becomes the ambit within which this whole ethic of copying repeatedly plays itself out, the collapse of the TV image and real bodies always inevitably leading to cadaverous repercussions.
Before the shot fades out, the camera starts panning away from the TV screen, only to come to rest at a photo- frame of Manohar and his family kept nearby. The relationship of the TV with the past is a complexly fraught category in 13B.
Both in Purana Mandir and Bandh Darwaza the primeval event that spawns the evil occurs in an impenetrable past, the knowledge of which is passed down socially through traditional stories and folktales. In Phoonk, the evil is generated by the malicious black magic practitioner Madhu Ashwini Kelaskar who wants to take revenge from the protagonist Rajiv Sudeep who denies her and her husband a lucrative construction contract.
Her casting of an evil spell is an act of revenge because Rajiv spoils the future that she and her husband had pinned her hopes on. Similarly in , the evil spirit only kills architects trying to commence a demolition project in order to prevent a new architectural future. The protagonists in all these films are architects from middle class families for whom these projects are crucial since they hold the promise of immediate upwards mobility the alleviation of the loan pressure for Manohar, a financially secure world for Rajiv in , and the chance for Vikram in Phoonk to move into an even better house.
Fredric Wertham published Seduction of the Innocent , a tome that claimed horror, crime and other comics were a direct cause of juvenile delinquency. Wertham asserted, largely based on undocumented anecdotes, that reading violent comic books encouraged violent behavior in children. He further suggested the industry strong-armed vendors into accepting their publications and forced artists and writers into producing the content against their will.
He noted female breasts in comics protruded in a provocative way and special attention was lavished upon the female genital region.
Wertham contended comics promoted homosexuality by pointing to the Batman—Robin relationship and calling it a homosexual wish dream of two men living together. He observed that Robin was often pictured standing with his legs spread and the genital region evident. Wertham warned of suspicious stores and their clandestine back rooms where second hand comics of the worst sort were peddled to children.
The language used evoked images of children prowling about gambling dens and whorehouses, and anxious parents felt helpless in the face of such a powerful force as the comics industry. Excerpts from the book were published in Ladies' Home Journal and Reader's Digest, lending respectability and credibility to Wertham's arguments.
The most widely discussed art was that from "Foul Play", a horror story from EC about a dishonest baseball player whose head and intestines are used by his teammates in a game. Seduction of the Innocent sparked a firestorm of controversy and created alarm in parents, teachers and others interested in the welfare of children; the concerned were galvanized into campaigning for censorship.
Wertham insisted upon appearing before the committee. He first presented a long list of his credentials, and then, in his clipped German accent, spoke with authority on the pernicious influence of comic books upon children. His passionate testimony at the hearings impressed the gathering. Kefauver suggested crime comics indoctrinated children in a way similar to Nazi propaganda.
Wertham noted Hitler was a beginner compared to the comics industry. Publisher William Gaines appeared before the committee and vigorously defended his product and the industry. He took full responsibility for the horror genre, claiming he was the first to publish such comics. He insisted that delinquency was the result of the real environment and not fictional reading materials.
His defiant demeanor left the committee which felt the industry was indefensible , astonished. Wertham as it would be to explain the sublimity of love to a frigid old maid. Gaines replied: 'Yes, I do—for the cover of a horror comic. The Code had many stipulations that made it difficult for horror comics to continue publication, since any that didn't adhere to the Code's guidelines would likely not find distribution.
The Code forbade the explicit presentation of "unique details and methods of crime Scenes of excessive violence Scenes dealing with, or instruments associated with walking dead, or torture".
Similarly, during this period Marvel Comics produced the titles Strange Tales — and Journey into Mystery — The publishers Gilberton , Dell Comics , and Gold Key Comics did not become signatories to the Comics Code, relying on their reputations as publishers of wholesome comic books. Dell began publishing the licensed TV series comic book Twilight Zone in and publishing a Dracula title in though only the first issue was horror related; the subsequent issues were part of the super-hero genre revival , followed in by the new series "Ghost Stories.