‘My challenge was to shoot a creature flick in daylight’
You must be feeling great with your film having won the best feature film award at the SA horror fest.
True, getting an international recognition that too for a horror film to an Indian filmmaker like me gives me an opening and a thought process to henceforward make films in which I am apt in. I am immensely happy.
What inspired to take up KAALO?
See, from my earlier films HO SAKTA HAI and MALLIKA, you may have noticed that my USP is films from the horror genre. HO SAKTA HAI was a film on black magic, MALLIKA was from the popular genre KAALO a creature day horror film and then my next films are physiological thrillers. I had heard stories of KAALO the witch in a village of Rajasthan where she lived two hundred fifty years ago. The stories go on to relate that she was killed by villagers for killing nubile girls to satisfy her greed for immortality.
As it is, I was always looking out for a subject that has been never seen on Indian screen so far, Yash Patnaik made my dream come true. We worked on the idea of a creature film but the concept of a day horror came when we were on the film recce.
Any problems you faced in the beginning?
Yes, firstly my story had to be pictursed in a desert area and secondly, I had to shoot the horror film in a broad daylight, the likes of which hasn’t been seen in World cinema till date. My challenge was to shoot a creature flick in daylight. When one does so in the night you can hide details like animation or enacting the part, but in daylight, there is nothing to hide. Here one’s work becomes tougher. But, that’s the fun of filmmaking.
What’s the story of KAALO?
The story of the film is about the creature attacking the tourist bus but as the film progresses; it is revealed the creature is actually a witch KAALO which kills nubile girls for sacrifice to gain immortal status. But her plans are foiled by Aditya Shrivastava (CID fame) to save the girl Shona (Swini Khara of CHEENI KUM fame) from the creature.
Could you tell us about the execution?
Though we accepted the challenge to make a day horror flick with a creature, restricted budget became a factor. So, for a filmmaker like me who was desperately wanting to do a film like this had to go on a reverse thought process about its execution by the given budget parameters. Being a VFX director for around 45 films, I decided not to animate the character in total but to blend the animated shots and some action-oriented animated shots with an actor in prosthesis to play the creature.
We were shooting the film in one schedule in the month of April last year and the temperature was 46 degrees centigrade. On one hand, we had to face the wrath of a sandstorm while on the other small accidents and actors being hospitalized due to weather conditions and KAALO, the creature’s changing colours because of sand and dust took us to task.
What did you do then?
Hence, in the post-production stage I had to actually work on the creature frame-by-frame to get its black colour which took me four long months to get.
How long did it take from pre to post production?
As I mentioned earlier, the film was shot in a single-schedule while for the post, I had to give between 8 to 10 months.
How did you zero in on Swini?
For KAALO we wanted a girl who could hold her own in front of the camera. I felt that Swini was best suited for the role since she also gets the right element of mystery and intrigue into her character.
Finally, your assessment of the film?
(Smiles) Hits and flops do matter a lot but since I am on the path of evolving the horror genre in India, things won’t be so easy, but with KAALO my experiment with different genres of horror will be successful. In short I can sum up the film KAALO is a: Hollywood style ‘kaalo’ a day light horror for bollywood multiplex audience.
Your box-office prediction
All I can say with a proper release which Pen entertainment is doing in a unique marketing style, the film is bound to give good returns to the producers.