Three things grab your attention in the title: Ghosts, real-life encounters and Ramsays. Ghosts in Our Backyard: The Ramsays’s Real-life Encounters with the Supernatural stays true to the title. Author Alisha ‘Priti’ Kirpalani, the granddaughter of F.U. Ramsay — the patriarch of the first family of Indian horror films, gives an insider’s account of real situations that haunted, terrified and affected them.
There is hardly any Indian who hasn’t been scared stiff by the offerings from the stables of Ramsay Brothers. Their production company comprised of F.U. Ramsay and his sons — Kumar, Gangu, Tulsi, Arjun, Keshu, Shyam and Karan. Two daughters (Kamla and Asha) and mother Motial complete the family photo. Any Ramsay offering was a complete package — storyline, matching sets and tunes and make-up to the boot. Shot on a budget, they went all out to successfully petrify their audiences.
At different junctures, they encountered ‘supernatural’ situations, which the book talks about. One fascinating experience belongs to Shyam Ramsay. While cruising down a lonely and spooky highway, after finishing the shoot for Purana Mandir, he encountered a woman in white sari asking for a lift. Right from the word GO, everything odd kept happening. Her silence, lifeless eyes and sandpaper-like gritty and screeching voice unnerved him. The moment he looked at her to ask something, he received the first shock — her inward turned feet.
Myriad scary thoughts went through his mind. He again glanced towards her, which was then inches away from him staring without blinking. The creepy encounter finally ended at a desolate place, which a shocked Shyam noticed under the moonlight was a graveyard. This episode later became the base of the Ramsay classic Veerana.
While their films scared everyone, despite filmmaking that may seem tacky now, a part of us always questioned whether they experienced paranormal incidences in real life. The book answers the question. Kirpalani’s engaging writing skills allow the readers to actually feel them. Reading this book at night provides fodder for nightmares.
Other supernatural tales include a bobbing disfigured head, unseen ghostly presences and the author’s connection with intuition and paranormal. Kirpalani had an unusual inheritance: Her power of premonition. For instance, her friend had lost her son in an accident. A while later, Kirpalani dreamt that the son was telling her to inform his mom he is fine and shouldn’t be crying.
When Kirpalani narrated this to her friend, the dumbstruck friend explained meeting her son’s friend and sobbing due to the memories. The fact that the dream came at the same time when her friend met her son’s pal unnerved both the ladies.
The book’s USP is the creation of the atmosphere of terror. The concise yet graphic narration weaves through the fear effortlessly. However, the experiences are not limited to ghostly sightings, but also poignant family events. It is also about giving hope and about understanding and respecting the existence of the supernatural. You enjoy being frightened but also take something with you.
Ghosts in Our Backyard: The Ramsay’s Real-life Encounters with the Supernatural by Alisha ‘Priti’ Kirpalani can be that book to be read on late nights. Just don’t read it in a Purani Haveli or behind Bandh Darwaaza.
Book: Ghosts in Our Backyard: The Ramsay’s Real-life Encounters with the Supernatural
Author: Alisha ‘Priti’ Kirpalani
Publisher: HarperCollins India
Price: Rs 299