By Subhash K. Jha
Mumbai, Dec 15 (IANS) Tulsi Ramsay, the shiver-giver of the 1970s and 1980s, who together with his six brothers constituted a palladium of horror and supernatural thrills, is no more. Actor Anil Dhawan and singer-composer Bappi Lahiri recall the late director as an affable and hardworking man of integrity.
Known to make successful horror films, Tulsi, who passed away on Friday, was a guiding force in the horror genre generating huge amounts of revenue from films that were made on a shoestring budget. One of the Ramsay brothers’ most successful films “Do Gaz Zameen Ke Neeche” was said to be made at a budget of Rs 3.5 lakh. The movie, released in 1972, made a profit close to Rs 40 lakh.
The Ramsays went on to make more than 30 horror films. Tulsi directed most of them including “Andhera”, “Purani Haveli” and “Aur Kaun”.
Actor Anil Dhawan, who featured in several of these including “Aakhri Cheekh” and “Andhera”, said: “I was sorry to hear of Tulsiji’s death. He was a very goodhearted person… full of life and the driving force among the Ramsay brothers (Kumar, Shyam, Keshu, Arjun, Gangu and Kiran). He kept all the siblings together.”
Anil enjoyed working in the Ramsay horror films. “They knew exactly what they wanted and how to get it from their actors. No time was wasted on the sets. All homework was done from beforehand. Tulsiji was a very sweet talker. He gave respect to everyone.”
About the Ramsay films being considered downmarket, Anil said: “What they did given their meagre budgets, no one else could do. Their films made money no matter what the budget. It is a shame we talk of ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ films when the third class compartments in the Indian railways are gone.
“As far as I’m concerned, there are only the ‘H’ films and ‘F’ films. Hit or flop. And the Ramsays made hit films.”
Bappi Lahiri, who composed music for many of the Ramsay fear films, remembers Tulsi as the patriarch of the family.
“He was a wonderful human being. I composed music for several of their films, all hits.”
Dismissing the Ramsays’ reputation as sleaze makers, Bappi said: “When I composed music for their film ‘Aur Kaun’, I got Saraswati Mata Lata Mangeshkar to sing the title song. Would she be part of anything of disrepute?
“Kishore Kumar also sang in ‘Aur Kaun’. Then I composed songs for the Ramsays’ ‘Samri’, ‘Saboot’, ‘Guest House’ and ‘Dak Bangla’. I also did the music in the Ramsays’ ambitious Hindi-Kannada bi-lingual ‘Inspector Dhanush’. The death of Tulsi Ramsay signals the end of an era. Horror cinema will never be the same again.”
In 2012, Ashim Ahluwalia made a critically acclaimed film “Miss Lovely” starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui on the horror-impact of the Ramsay brothers. Ironically, while “Miss Lovely” was regarded as classy critique on a genre of cinema, the Ramsays were constantly scoffed at for peddling horror and sleaze.
When they did try to make a classy horror film “Ghungroo Ki Awaaz” in 1981 starring Rekha and Vijay Anand, it fell flat on its smooth face.
Reacting to being portrayed as sleaze peddlers in “Miss Lovely”, Tulsi’s brother Shyam had said: “The fact is Ramsay is a brand name. We are a reputed family with decades of cinema to our credit. The whole film industry knows it. If someone still chose to portray us as sleaze hawkers, it is not our problem.”