Celebrated on October 31, Halloween traditionally marks the beginning of the cold, dark winters in the West, and is thus historically associated with the dead and the spooky. However, the superstitions and rituals associated with Halloween have lost most of their significance today, with exuberant theme parties and Instagram photos of your best costume yet now taking precedence.
Not surprisingly, Halloween celebrations have become increasingly popular in India, too. Restaurants and even brands organize theme parties to mark the festivities, inviting people to turn up in their scariest best. While popular TV shows and events of the year can usually predict the trend of costumes that will flood your feed (we’re expecting a few Escobars, Hodors, and Trumps this time round), the trick to standing out is often really simple.
Our mantra? Think desi.
Why not give the zombies and vampires a break this year and put your spookiest foot forward with a little inspiration from good ol’ Indian bhoots?
Vidya Balan’s portrayal of the bloodthirsty Odissi dancer, enraged over the murder of her lover (Shashidhar) by the besotted king (Vibhuti Narayan), is a perfectly creepy Bollywood inspiration, and one that not many people will immediately think about. If you’re comfortable in a sari and okay with screaming hoarsely in broken Bengali through the evening, this one’s tailor-made for you.
Get the look: You could imitate her look from the concluding sections of the song Aami Je Tomar where she comes out as the one possessed. Dress up in one of Mom’s gorgeous saris, copy the unruly hair and creepy makeup, and don’t forget the ghungroos!
Trademark Dialogue: Try standing behind a friend and creepily whisper: “Bodmaayesh, ami tor gola ketey rakhto paan kaorbo”!
Inspired by the 1920 film with the same name, Noorie remained a cliché for decades later, even inspiring the popular Bally Sagoo remix in the 90s. Giving a spooky twist to the popular translucent chiffon saree style popularized by Yash Raj heroines, Noorie was the mysterious lady in white, wandering through the city with a candle in search of her lover.
Get the look: All you need is a white saree, a long wig (or not) and a candle to match this look. You could experiment with the makeup to appear as scary as you wish, but we recommend keeping it pale and stricken.
Trademark Dialogue: Look into the distance as you hum ajare ajare o mere dilbar aaja.
Notoriously confused as practitioners of black magic, tantriks have an element of dread associated with them. According to legends. an important aspect of Tantra constitutes exploring death (by meditating on top of a dead body on a new moon night)! While you need go to no such lengths to put together your costume, it does give you the license to carry that chillum around.
Get the look: You will need to put together a black robe, a black bandana, a red waistband, an unkempt wig and some beaded neckpieces (those with skullheads would be ideal!) and a trishool.
Trademark Dialogue: Chant ‘alakh niranjan’ loudly and preferably into people’s faces, while staring right at their eyes.
This ancient Indian ghost imparting some of the most entertaining life lessons was a favourite among kids from the 90s. Betaal inhabits and animates the dead, while he is on the run from a taantrik and Vikramaditya who pledged to bring him back.
Get the look: Put together an all-white attire constituting a dhoti, waist band, a shawl draped as a cape, and a wig. Make your face up with visible white powder, white kajal and blood red lips.
Trademark Dialogue: Betaal manages to dodge Vikramaditya every single time with this one line: “Tu bola . . . aur main chala . . . jawab de, nahi toh main tere sar ke hazar tukde kar dunga . . . !”
Indian Halloween cannot be complete without a visit from this good’ol friend from space! Jadoo, that weird but adorable blue alien from the film Koi Mil Gaya will always have a special place in our hearts. Even though it might take quite some time to perfect the look, we guarantee you will turn out to be the most popular one at the party.
Get the look: Given its popularity, Jadoo costumes are readily availale online. You need a yellow-blue hoodie, the headgear and those 3-fingered hands and feet.
Trademark Dialogue: Jadoo’s only dialogue (dhoooooop) turned out to be the most popular one from the film.