Nine years after ‘Bhoot’, Ram Gopal Varma revisits the idea with ‘Bhoot Returns’. He talks to Sangeetha Devi Dundoo about his first 3D project and more

It’s been six months since his last release ‘Department’, which was thrashed by critics and thumbed down by the audience. Not one to be unnerved, Ram Gopal Varma returns with ‘Bhoot Returns’, a sequel to the 2003 release ‘Bhoot’. Here, he talks about dealing with criticism and his projects. Excerpts:

In ‘Bhoot’, the fear stemmed from soundtrack and camera angles than something gory shown on screen. Will ‘Bhoot Returns’ adhere to similar sensibilities?

Yes, both Bhoot and Bhoot Returns are psychological horror films where the imagination of the audience is used to instil fear. When you see an empty house with a dead body, even the slightest sound can create fear.

You call ‘Bhoot Returns’ a thematic sequel. How will it carry the idea forward?

There are three kinds of sequels — one where the story continues from the first film, the second where the same characters are placed in a different situation, like Sarkar and Sarkar Raj, and the third where the theme is carried forward. Bhoot Returns will again show a family in an eerie house. I am excited about making the film in 3D format because the fear is enhanced. In 3D, the audience is drawn into the haunted house rather than being casual observers from a distance.

You’ve chosen actors with whom you’ve worked with before, with the exception of Alayna Sharma. What made you decide on Manisha Koirala?

Apart from the fact that the actors were suitable to the script, there is a comfort level in working with people I know, like J.D Chekravarthy and Madhu Shalini who plays his sister. The film is about a little girl who becomes possessed and her own mother is scared of her. I heard Manisha wanted to return to acting and felt she would be the right choice. Alayna Sharma is incredible. I didn’t imagine she would perform so well.

The first poster of the film using optical illusion to show the little girl with two pairs of eyes caught attention. But soon came the allegation that the idea was copied from a commercial.

The poster was designed by Lalji. I liked the idea he discussed with me but I don’t know if he was inspired by a commercial; I cannot speak for him. In this age where there is so much creative output, it is possible that people draw inspiration from similar reference points.

What attracts you to the darker side of life – horror, crime and underworld?

I find normal things — the so-called romantic stories — boring. I like stories that are intense and power packed.

You are now working on your film about 26/11. How factual will the film be? Also, you came under criticism when you visited the Taj hotel along with Riteish Deshmukh soon after the terror attacks. At that point, were you thinking of a potential idea for a film?

It was sheer stupidity of the media to say that I went to the Taj hotel because I intended to make a film. I was, like the others, visiting the site of the attack and what would I have seen that others haven’t? Were terrorists hiding under the table? And if I had a film in mind and wanted to cast Riteish, would I have wanted to cast him as a cop or a terrorist? It was only after the investigations were carried out and a lot of information was available in public domain that I decided to make a film. This is the most challenging film of my career and based on facts.

‘Department’ was ripped apart for its cinematography. In hindsight, what do you feel about the film?

The fate of a film hinges on its content rather than technicalities. Because I had spoken so much about using different cameras and shaky movements, critics latched on to the cinematography. I will use similar techniques if a film requires it. On the contrary, the camera remains steady nearly 90 per cent of the time in Bhoot Returns.

You are also working on ‘Satya 2’ and ‘Sarkar 3’ …

These are ideas on which different writers are working on. As and when the scripts are ready and I have the time, the films will be made.

Looking at your filmography, some of your best films were made in the first half of your career. Would you be able to do a ‘Satya’, ‘Company’ or ‘Shiva’ so convincingly today?

I have faced similar opinions since the beginning of my career. When Kshana Kshanam flopped, people said Shiva was a fluke. Years later people rate Kshana Kshanam as one of my best works. It was the same case with Govinda Govinda. Those who criticise my work are entitled to their views. I do films with the same sincerity; why would I make films if I am not convinced about the ideas?

Lastly, even your tweets come across as being attention seeking or sarcastic. Are they intentional?

I am airing my views. Why shouldn’t I? If others feel it’s attention seeking, I cannot help it.