Dhwanil Mehta: THE FINAL EXIT is a haunting spook house entertainer that attempts to open new doors

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Over a round of coffee, debutant director Dhwanil Mehta explains how THE FINAL EXIT is his serious ‘entry’ in Bollywood’s eerie genre that aims to pull-out some of the stops of horror filmmaking in Bollywood with some originality and dose of sophistication with utmost sincerity. The new ‘creepy’ster in town Dhwanil shares his journey from a businessman to a filmmaker with an undying passion for cinema with thrills.

Over to Dhwanil

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THE FINAL EXIT marks your ‘Entry’ in Bollywood
Since the age of 16 I wanted to be a filmmaker. Hailing from a business background, it was not a cake walk. I enrolled into Subhash Ghai’s institute – Whistling Woods International to learn the art and technique and came out with an international dream project MOKSHA. MOKSHA required a bigger scale and during the research of MOKSHA, the seed of THE FINAL EXIT got bowed. It’s about an incident inspired from real life where a 3 year old child told his mom that his late grandfather is awake. Shocked and surprised by this statement, when his family members asked the child, he said that while living we are dead and when we die we are awaken to reality. Imagine a three year old toddler talking about this and from here THE FINAL EXIT entered my mind and now it’s ready for the audience.

How different is THE FINAL EXIT from a quintessential Bollywood horror film?
First of all, the eerie feeling comes in broad day light. We had almost locked everything and THE FINAL EXIT was supposed to be shot in dark nights but a recce to Ladkah gave THE FINAL EXIT a new meaning. I came across some pictures of my friend who has gone to Ladkah and the pictures where so alluring and haunting that we couldn’t stop ourselves for making a visit. One day during our trip, in the broad daylight during an afternoon around 2 pm I was shit scared. The car was moving on a deserted road with no sign of people or any motel/dhaba etc. It was going on surrounded by the mystical but beautiful mountains. This was scary and hauntingly beautiful. I decided that Ladakh is the location where THE FINAL EXIT will be shot and it will be the broad daylight that will scare you to the limit. It was that eerie feeling of fear by the atmosphere that ringed the bell.

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What tools, inspiration does your THE FINAL EXIT has from Bollywood and from the rest?
I am very much inspired by the way Korean filmmakers have structured their horrors. Taking a religious/cultural philosophy, they smartly coin it with elements and tools of a scary movie and deliver a beautiful film in the end. Yes there is a respect for Shyamalan and my faith in RGV style of filmmaking using props and the way he has created the eerie feeling in BHOOTH, PHOONK is there. We have made an attempt to break the genre of horrors in the industry. It’s a horror with layers and some meaning. It’s completely unpredictable and a constant pulse riser.

The selection of Kunaal Roy Kapur is a surprise
Yes in our endeavor to deliver a horror with a difference, Kunaal Kapur as lead is something completely out of the box. Even in his wildest dreams, Kunaal would have not imagined doing a lead in a horror that has a unique mix of suspense, thrills and erotica. He has lost 20 kilos for this role and has turned out to be the perfect fit due to his versatility. We have seen him in DELHI BELLY, NAUTANKI SAALA but here he is in different zone altogether, you won’t recognize him at first glance. He has worked that hard and toiled for months to get his physique and other nuances right for the role. Kunaal plays a topnotch photographer having a dream life with money, girls, sex, all is happening but there is something missing. He dreams of clicking photographs of a gorgeous woman but he is not able to see her face. One day he receives a mail with an attachment of those pictures he clicked in his dream. In his quest to find the difference between dream and reality, a journey to understand the difference between life and death begins which encounters fears, belief and faith.

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The cast of THE FINAL EXIT also includes five actresses, are they just for the requirement to fulfill the erotic demands of the genre?
No not at all. We have five beautiful actresses in this film- Scarlet Wilson, Elena Kazan, Archana Shastry, Reyhna Malhotra and new comer Ananya Sengupta. While Reyhna has done TV, Scarlet- Elena has worked earlier in Bollywood and south industries. These girls play an important part in THE FINAL EXIT and have their own episodes. They work as the metaphor and come during the twist and turns in the narrative. They are not just for the genre demands. They have much more to add.

How many bold scenes are there and how much bold they are?
We have not tried to sensationalize or score with erotica in this film. It’s part of the narrative and is used as a metaphor. Raising hormones without any explanation doesn’t work in this genre. Bold and love making scenes are there as per the requirement of the narrative and essence of the film. We are not at all cashing on erotica.

In its zest to be different have you made no entry for songs in THE FINAL EXIT?
Music plays an important part in Indian horrors and my film has it too. To break the norms we have a modern ‘Tandav’ as well.

How confidence you are regarding this film? Will it make the right noise and scare the shit out of people?
Horror for me is an exploration of a new dimension. Ghost are not physically seen, the alternate dimension excites us and THE FINAL EXIT is a haunting spook house entertainer that opens the doors for a novel, layered, and sturdy supernatural horror that dares to scare you in broad daylight. It has the known scares and the unknown eerie feeling of demons and ghost. It can be gory in parts but overall it’s an attempt to tell a new story in Bollywood’s horror glory.

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