Director Ram Gopal Varma and actor Manisha Koirala get into a spirited conversation on Bhoot Returns

A decade stands between Ram Gopal Varma and Manisha Koirala’s first film Company and their second collaboration Bhoot Returns (sequel of the 2003 film Bhoot releasing on October 12). One is a maverick director-producer; the other is striking it out once again in the Hindi film industry. Both are known for their forthright remarks so when they get together for a chat, its nothing but interesting.

RGV: Manisha, you said that the last film you saw of mine was Sarkar. How come you still decided to work with me on Bhoot Returns? Was it blind trust? Or was it an interesting script that you wanted to work on as an actor?

MK: (laughing) Ramu I think I have seen all your good films. I did Company with you and I enjoyed it thoroughly, though it was a small role. I like the ease with which you handled it. I consider you to be one of the best directors in the country today.

RGV: Then how come I make bad films?

MK: I think you know that you can make a bad film and get away with it because you will spring a good film again!

RGV: (laughs) Okay, now, do you believe in ghosts?

MK: Yes and no, because I haven’t seen a ghost yet so I don’t believe in them. But I do get scared. It’s inexplicable but true. If I watch a horror film or if there is the slightest noise when I am asleep, I get scared.

RGV: When I came to your house to offer you the film, I sensed the presence of a ghost there and immediately knew you had to be in the film.

MK: (laughing) Did you sense your own self? You know, your best technique is that you say the funniest things with a straight face.

RGV: Why do you think people watch horror films?

MK: I saw The Blair Witch Project. Then I saw The Ring. And several others. This, despite the fact that I get really scared of watching horror. I think there is an element in human nature that enjoys the thrill of being scared.

RGV: Yes. My belief is that people don’t want to be scared but they like the thrill of being scared. Then there are those who want to challenge themselves to remain brave. But the worst type of horror audience is the one that has no imagination. You can’t scare them. There was somebody who told me he didn’t like Bhoot, except for the last ten minutes of the film. (Laughs)

MK: Do you believe in God? I believe as much as there is a need to fear, there is a need to be protected.

RGV: As a concept, I believe in God. Tell me what are you scared of.

MK: One of the things that I was, and still am paranoid of, is losing my sight. Because I have always loved reading and I am very scared that one day when I am 70 or 80 I will wake up sightless and never get to read my books again! It psyches me out totally, this thought. Then there is the fear of failure and other things.

RGV: My most frightening thought is that the dead cast and crew of Sholay will come back to terrorise me some day. So far none of them have come back as ghosts but the day they do it will be devastating. Any scary thoughts on these lines?

MK: (Laughing) Honestly I haven’t thought like this Ramu; this is so unique!

RGV: You must see Wrong Turn. It takes you to another stratosphere.

MK: Tell me, why do you usually make films on unsatisfied spirits and underworld dons?

RGV: As a kid I had this habit of hiding behind doors and saying boo to everyone. Now I am making films. It’s the same thing, only more expensive and technique-driven!

As for why I do gangster films... deep down I am a gangster but since I don’t have the guts to pick up a gun, I am making films.

MK: One thing I am intrigued about is your ability to move from one project to another. You have just finished Bhoot Returns and you are doing one on the December 26 Mumbai attacks plus there are a couple of others under production. And you are present in each of these films wholly. How do manage to do that?

RGV: I have a master ghost within me.