Vikram Bhatt is back to scare us with “Haunted”
Once projected as the next big thing in the Hindi film industry, Vikram Bhatt failed to live up to the hype. He could not repeat the success of Raaz but showed that he knows a trick or two about scaring his audience. When variety didn't work, he returned to his core competence and once again produced a scary spell with 1920.
Credited with reviving the old world charm of horror, Vikram became a sort of horror specialist. Shaapit followed, lived up to its name at the box office but failed to douse the spirit of Vikram. He is back to scare us with Haunted 3D, India's first stereoscopic 3D horror film.
Vikram says 3D is just a plus, a novelty to attract the attention. “The content has to be strong; 3D or any technology can only enhance the impact.” So what's the scary factor this time? “How can you save somebody who is dead? Mahakshay goes to Dalhousie to do the deal of an ancestral house but what he hopes to be a business deal turns out to be a matter of life and death.”
Vikram says he is carrying the tradition of Indian horror films. “We have grown up on films like Mahal and Bees Saal Baad. We want something wholesome from our films, and the horror genre is no exception. The director should be able to sufficiently scare you but there should be moments where the audience could laugh, could feel the adrenaline rush as well.”
Haven't we come a long way with Ram Gopal Varma? “I have watched Bhoot and Phoonk but I don't want to comment on somebody else's films. The point is when you make it the Indian way, cynics complain why we can't make a horror flick like the Japanese and Koreans do? When somebody does it, the same people would say, ‘See, the director has copied it from a foreign flick.' Damned if you do, damned if you don't.”
Logic is always an issue with the horror genre? “Supernatural themes have their own logic and should be judged accordingly by critics. While watching Star Wars, if you question why they are going to another planet when we know that only Earth has life, it is going to become a laughable exercise. Yes, if the director fails to scare you then you have every right to trash the film.”
He seems fascinated by Victorian architecture, as both Raaz and 1920 had it in the backdrop. “It forms an eerie backdrop. Though Haunted is a contemporary story, you will find little references of the Victorian era in the ambience.”
Horror films usually don't have big names. “Bhoot had Ajay Devgn and Urmila but, yes, generally horror films work with relative newcomers because here fear has star value.” Does it also help in keeping the surprise factor going because the director can bump off anybody, anytime? Stars come with a reputation that they will last at least till the climax. “This is only an Indian reality where big names are not sporting enough to do cameos in horror films. When Drew Barrymore died after the first sequence in Scream, audience thought anything could happen in this film. It is unthinkable here unless some really big banner makes a horror flick.”
On casting Mahakshay Chakraborty (Mimoh) after a dud like Jimmy, Vikram says the actor has completely reinvented himself and people won't find any similarity with what he did in his debut film. “People gauge you with what you have done but you should gauge yourself with what you can achieve.”
At a time when even the Ramsays are lying low, Vikram is quite prolific with horror. “We love to brand people and there are advantages and disadvantages of being branded. So I can't say I am a victim but the truth is when I made a light-hearted film like Life Mein Kabhie Kabhiee, people unnecessarily kept expecting some twists and turns just because it was a Vikram Bhatt film.”
HAUNTED BY IPL
On the failure of Shaapit, Vikram says, “The film came during the IPL and fell through the crevice between a mass entertainer and a multiplex film.” By that yardstick Haunted should also feel the heat of IPL? “This time it's different as IPL has not been able to create as much impact as it did in the last three seasons. How can you expect audience to cheer for cities within a week after successfully cheering for the nation in the World Cup? Also so much swapping of players has happened that it is difficult to generate the loyalty factor. You can't remember who plays for whom.”