You may or may not believe in paranormal and horror stories, but they're back after a gap on Indian television with new shows like "Fear Files" and "Haunted Nights".
Zee TV's "Fear Files" narrates the stories of people who have gone through paranormal experiences in a drama-documentary format, with experts sharing their views. "Haunted Nights", which airs on Sahara One, is a fictional horror show with new stories every week.
According to "Haunted Nights" producer Vishal Gurnani, "the horror genre is here to stay now".
"People like watching new horror stories. Our show has a short story format. So there is no viewer fatigue there. The viewer gets to sample newer ideas, new content, new stories," Gurnani told IANS.
In the past, the small screen put up several horror shows like "Aahat", "Ssshhh...Koi Hai", "Zee Horror Show", "Maano Ya Na Maano", "Shubh Kadam", "Shree", "Black" and "Koi Aane Ko Hai". But with changing trends, the genre got pushed back.
Lack of any genre on air leaves the audience asking for more, suggests Sukesh Motwani, head (fiction programming), Zee TV. No wonder his channel has decided to cash in with "Fear Files".
"If you don't provide the flavour of a particular genre to an audience, say comedy or thriller or horror, for some time, the audience starts to miss those things," Motwani told IANS.
"Shows which present horror in a realistic and sensible manner to the audience are fewer," he added.
Shows like Ramsay Brothers' "Zee Horror Show" had spooked the audiences earlier. Over time they, however, started becoming caricaturish with loud make-up and sounds, which only left newer generations laughing.
So, producers are looking at new ways to instill fear.
"We do not do the old-fashioned genre of horror. We have a very new and edgy horror show. Anybody who thinks our show 'Haunted Nights' is comedy should probably sit alone and switch off the lights and watch the show," challenged Gurnani.
Along with new formats and fresh story ideas, the quality of graphics has also improved.
"Indian broadcasters have fortunately evolved and are giving a good budget to producers. A lot of great work is being done on visual effects and graphic effects, and all kinds of high-end visual techniques to enhance the look and feel of horror shows," said Gurnani.
Fundamentally, the fate of horror shows, however, lies in the viewers' belief in the paranormal.
Viewers, especially with a well-educated background, find it hard to connect with horror shows, pointed out Mehra Shrikhande, a paranormal expert associated with "Fear Files".
"The more educated the person is, the more the tendency to disbelieve. I feel until and unless the person goes through a paranormal experience, it is difficult to believe in it," said Shrikhande.
She admits storytellers ought to add a "little drama" by way of scary make-up, but feels people can connect to shows with real life experiences.
Clearly, small screen ghosts are springing back to action.