Filmmaker Vikram Bhatt, ready with his new film 1921, yet another supernatural-horror thriller, says his obsession with the spooky comes from how fear is the most palpable of all emotions.
Excerpts from an interview:
Vikram, you are back doing a genre you are most comfortable with?
I don't know ‘comfortable' is the right expression. I have always had a feel for the romanticized horror. All my horror films have been love stories. The horror is the villain of the films usually. I have always believed that fear is the most basic of human emotions. There is no other emotion that we can feel that is so palpable as fear. They say that fear is the basic emotion to a lot of other emotions. Fear of hunger is greed, fear of dark is light, fear of losing is insecurity... so on and on. If fear is done well, then nothing attracts us more. A horror film is like an adventure where you live to tell the tale.
How have you re-invented the genre this time?
You can't really re-invent a genre. A genre is a genre is a genre. One can tell a story that has not been heard before within the genre. And that is what I have done. Also I have listened to my audiences carefully in my previous films and corrected the genre where they thought I had gone wrong. '1921' is not the usual horrex, it has a soulful love story and great music. It is a movie that transcends the scares and talks about love and sacrifice. It is also high on horror as the audiences have told me that they want more of it.
You have also been very active on the web with a number of products. Is that the future or the present?
Yes, I have been actively doing work on digital for the past year and on January 27, which is my birthday, my app, VB on the Web comes out, which is like a theatre on the phone. You have to just buy a ticket for the show you want to watch. No subscription or other stuff, just good old movie style. I don't know if the content on the cell phone is the future but I do know that content being beamed to you directly is the future. Entertainers should be where the crowd is. Today the crowd is on the phones.
What do you think of the films being made in Hindi these days? Is the audience more open to novel themes or is it still status quo?
We have always been a business of doing more of the same. If it is comedy, then it is going to be tons of the same. Now it is the time for bio-picture, so everyone is on that road. We are going to learn about a lot of people, some we know and some we did not know. The audience has always been open to novel ideas.
It is us, the filmmakers who are scared to put our money where it matters. The audience is done with marketing gimmicks. It is not going to bring the people into the theatres. We will have to tell good stories. That is all.
As the director who reinvented the supernatural genre with RAAZ, what do you feel about the way the genre has evolved?
About the evolution of the genre... I really don't know what that means. If we want our films to be more like the Hollywood horror films, I don't think they are and they should be. We have a different art form. We tell stories with an emotional arc. We are not the country of unrelenting horror with little human relationships. Those kind of films just won't work. Yes we need to source different stories and make the stories we tell more believable. We have to work on that.
Must ask about the freedom of expression vis-a-vis PADMAAVAT. Do you think filmmakers in this country are under siege? And what's the solution?
This is another discussion altogether. One that needs pages and pages to fill.
[By Subhash K Jha]