(This story was originally published on 31 October 2021. It is being reposted on account of Halloween 2023.)
With the colours, costumes and occasional flamboyance that Indian cinema and popular culture embody, it will be a tragedy to not have Halloween inspiration from all that they represent. Here’s a list of Bollywood characters and pop-culture icons that would make terrific Halloween costumes.
Crime Master Gogo ('Andaz Apna Apna')
Shakti Kapoor’s ‘Crime Master Gogo’ from Andaz Apna Apna has got to be one of the best subversions of Bollywood villains. The cult hit, with its iconic one-liners, never forgets to laugh at itself. But the best part of the film, for me, was Crime Master Gogo. A black and red cape, a black shirt, a red glove in only one hand, red boots, and that moustache—what’s not to like? But you have to make an entry on a bicycle.
Boris ('Go Goa Gone')
A Bollywood-loaded Halloween is incomplete without the only zombie movie we have. Go Goa Gone was an unlikely horror-comedy that surprised Bollywood more than it terrified. Boris, played by Saif Ali Khan, is Bollywood’s coolest ghostbuster with a white T-shirt, a brown vest, a pair of glares, and blonde hair. Who is he really competing with—Saif in Bhoot Police? Brownie points for the Russian accent!
Jadoo ('Koi... Mil Gaya')
You were expecting Krrish to be on this list, weren’t you? But what would you rather be, a mediocre Indian superhero or Indian baby Yoda?
The Amul Girl
Amul, with their mascot—the Amul Girl—has been doing inimitable advertising and satirical commentary on just about everything for more than half a century. From popular culture to politics, the Amul girl occupied a dignified little corner of our newspapers. All you would need is a red polka-dot dress, a hair ribbon, and most importantly, a bread slice at all times.
Mogambo ('Mr. India')
Mogambo, originally created by Javed Akhtar as a comic book villain, has been immortalised by Amrish Puri. One of the most memorable antagonists in Bollywood, the black and gold power jacket screams Halloween. I’d put Mr. India on this list but you wouldn’t know.
Disco Fighter ('Delhi Belly')
The flashy 'Disco Fighter' cameo, played by Aamir Khan, lights up Delhi Belly even after the film has ended. You'd really be doing an Elvis Presley costume but we'll let that slide. The character is so hilarious it’s annoying. Bring your A-game with one-liners apart from the costume. How do you top “dil todu haddi bhi, kung fu khelu kabaddi bhi”?
Two and a half decades later, Rangeela’s outfits continue to remain iconic. The film changed the styling in Bollywood films dramatically. Everyone suddenly wanted to wear skater dresses and berets. Aamir khan’s ‘Munna’ would be incomplete without his eccentric style. The popularity of the film’s costumes was such that Filmfare also introduced a new category for costume design, Manish Malhotra being the first recipient. So technically, if you dress as Milli or Munna, you’d be wearing Manish Malhotra for Halloween.
R.K. Laxman’s ‘The Common Man’
The only acceptable common man outfit on Halloween. Started in 1951, R.K. Laxman's Common Man represented the hopes, aspirations, and troubles of the common Indian man. Clad in a dhoti and a plaid jacket with white hair that is perpetually standing, The Common Man's legacy is anything but common.
Tinkle comics manage to pack the nostalgia of an entire childhood with its characters. The oddball Suppandi and Shikari Shambu—the lazy and scared hunter who would somehow end up becoming the hero—remain the most memorable comic characters for more than one generation of Indians.
Manjulika and Chhote Pandit ('Bhool Bhulaiyya')
Bhool Bhoolaiyya is the Hindi remake of the Malayalam language Manichitrathazhu. Adapted in about four languages, each remake was a hit. While Vidya Balan's Manjulika was the life of the Hindi film, Rajpal Yadav's Chhote Pandit was a uniquely memorable part with red paint all over the body and an incense stick tucked behind the ear. Pair them together and they would be a great duo for Halloween. You could be Nagavalli if you're a fan of Malayalam cinema.
The list has to include the original cult superhero Shaktimaan. Aired on DD National in 1997 for the first time, Shaktimaan became a beloved character. The show’s references make their way to memes and the Internet even today.
Every day is Halloween for Ranveer Singh. Pick your pick.