‘Chhorii’ releases this Friday. What are the response and reactions you have been getting from your friends?
Fans and friends have been messaging me on social media and private messages saying they are really spooked out by my trailer and that they are looking forward to a good and honest horror film. I hope I can offer them that.
You are known for your horror films. What is it about the spirit realm that captivates you and what is it about ‘Chhorri‘ that makes it different from other films in this genre?
In India, we have always been captivated by horror stories. From grandmother tales to bonfire sessions, if someone narrates their experience, everyone has something to share. I think it is inherent to our culture and tradition to speak about horror stories and I am just trying to bring those stories to the big screen.
Chhorii is not one story but derived from many stories together. When watching the film, you will recall hearing these stories somewhere or the other.
You have a female lead. What made you pick Nushrratt Bharuccha to tell this story?
When I met Nushratt some years ago for another film, I noticed that, as an actor, she is very enthusiastic and hungry to do different roles. As a person and actor, I instantly liked her and saw that there was a lot of potential to be explored in this girl. Later, when the character was written, I could see Nushrat in it because she has such a relatable personality and girl-next-door vibe. She doesn’t have these typecast heroine look and that helped the character as it helps people relate better. When people see that the person can be their neighbour or friend, then the fear becomes much more intense because you feel for the person.
Nushratt was also gracious to do this film and worked hard to give her everything. She has done a great job in the film. It even came as a surprise to me and will surprise the audience as well.
Is this why we don’t see many A-listers taking up horror films because they are perceived as ‘glamorous’?
That could be a reason. Also, actors are scared of this genre as it is a treatment-based one. In the wrong hands, the film can start looking wrong. When an actor is playing a character in a horror film, he has also to be the victim in the situation, which is not the most preferable part an actor would want to play. So the takers are fewer. If this film is liked by the audience, then I hope that bigger actors start looking at this genre.
Which A-list celeb would you like to cast in your next horror film?
The wish list is too big, but just to give a name, what if the biggest actor in the country, Mr Amitabh Bachchan would play a role in a horror film?
There has been a lot of talk about pay disparity in Bollywood. How did you, as a director, make sure to decrease that gap?
I’m sure the producers took care of that. I’m pretty sure they did justice to that part. Nushrratt was also very happy on the sets, so I’m sure that justice was done.
With theatres open now, why opt for an OTT release over a theatrical one?
I’m not sure how safe it is to go to the theatres in this Covid-19 situation. I also think that people have been left with some scars and they will take time to open up and come back to theatres. Also, if given a choice to release this film in some theatres in the country, instead of release it across 200 countries where people can watch it safely at home, I would go with the latter. The objective of making this film was to reach a wider audience, so definitely Amazon Prime Video becomes my first choice. I’m excited for people to watch it and see a side of Indian horror they have never seen before.
You have made so many horror films, but what did you watch that really scared you?
People scare me more than content. I don’t get scared of horror films, but I remember the classics we watched when we were young – ‘The Shining’, ‘Rosemary’s Baby’, the Ramsay films also scared me because I was so young and innocent at the time.
What role do you think children play in the horror genre and should it be explored more in India?
Any factor of your life that you feel cannot harm you, starts harming you, then obviously it will scare you. With children, we don’t expect them to be innocent, and if the opposite happens, so it does become a scare factor. Stephen King said while writing ‘The Shining’ that one thing that really scared him was his kids. So a strong aspect of that can be seen in the shining.
Is a web series on the cards?
There are some talks going on, but it is too early to talk about it. Maybe someday.
Any message to your viewers?
Please watch the film, if you like it share it with your friends. When the film works and is appreciated, we, as filmmakers who want to explore this genre, will get more opportunities to give the audience better films and better content.