By Sugandha Rawal
New Delhi, May 27 (IANS) Patrick Graham feels every single village in India has its “own spook” story — waiting to be told. The writer-director, who has captured bits from the mythological world with “Ghoul” and now “Betaal”, says there is a gap in the Indian market for “good, mature and honest” horror, and he is on a mission to fill it.
“I enjoy getting scared and enjoy watching horror and telling spooky stories. I remember sharing ghost stories as a kid with friends during night sleepover and stuff like that. So, I have always enjoyed these kinds of stories,” Graham told IANS while talking about the onset of his fascination with the evil paranormal realm.
“I feel like it’s just a natural progression in adulthood. I also feel like there’s a bit of a gap in the market for good, mature and honest horror in India, and I feel I’m trying to kind of trade things that aren’t necessarily coming from anywhere else at the moment,” he added.
For “Ghoul”, Graham drew inspiration from Arabic folklore to create shape-shifting, cannibalistic Jinn Ghoul. Now, he has dived into Indian mythology for the web series “Betaal”.
Asked if he wants to delve deeper in Indian ancient history, he said: “Absolutely. It’s just such a huge range of mythological beings. It’s almost like every single village has its own spook story. So honestly speaking, the range of creatures, mythological demons, ghosts, spirits and the way they behave and idiosyncrasies. There’s so much scope for that in India, which actually makes it really exciting.”
“And I would say that on screen and in Indian cinema, we haven’t really seen that variety. It’s usually the same same kind of thing,” he added.
“Betaal” delves into themes of an age-old cure, haunted tunnel, army of undead and how “evil is eternal”. Graham has created and written “Betaal”, and co-directed with Nikhil Mahajan. The show is co-written by Suhani Kanwar.
Set in a remote village, the show narrates the story of a team on a mission to help the villagers and fight a horrific enemy. It starts when they stumble upon the curse of Betaal mountain, which unleashes an army of zombies on them as well as the villagers.
Looking back at the challenges of creating “Betaal”, he said: “For me, one of the biggest challenges was the fact that it was by far the biggest project I’ve ever done.”
“‘Ghoul’ was a big project, but this is several times larger. I had bigger sets, I had bigger crews and cast and I had sort of more at stake. I certainly remember feeling in the first few days of shoot, I was like, ‘wow, this is really major, I have to be on my A-game’. I have to pull myself together. I was definitely nervous in the first couple of days, but got used to it and kind of fell into the rhythm and it was pretty smooth.”
Starring Viineet Kumar, Aahana Kumra, Suchitra Pillai, Jitendra Joshi, Jatin Goswami, Manjiri Pupala, and Syna Anand, the series, backed by Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, released on Netflix on May 24.
(Sugandha Rawal can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)