Team Alone lead actors Bipasha Basu and Karan Singh Grover, along with producer Abhishek Pathak, in conversation with team Box Office India
Bipasha Basu (BB): You have got the rundown on the six films we have done before. Well, I had worked with Abhishek on Aatma too. It is he who drives everything now because Kumarji has his able son doing everything for him. I mean, I don’t know how they share their work but I don’t meet him very often although we connect on Whatsapp all the time. We even had a Whatsapp group for the film!
Abhishek Pathak (AP): Bipasha and I actually first worked together on Omkara. It was the first time I walked onto the sets to understand filmmaking.
BOI: So Abhishek, you began to learn the ropes of filmmaking with Omkara?
AP: Yes. It was the first film where I learnt production, and now Bipasha and I are working again. (Smiles)
BB: I am a good artist. I just ask too many questions. But once I get my answers, we are all on the same page.
Karan Singh Grover (KSG): And I am the one sending hearts on the Whatsapp group chat.
BB: Yeah, we have this group chat where we discuss important professional stuff about the shoot. So if something is delayed or postponed, we discuss it on chat. Sometimes, the chat can go to a different level. And when everyone is chatting about important stuff, Karan sends a heart, a bomb and once even a pot! When he sent a pot, everyone was, like, let’s get off this group chat and revert to individual chat! (Laughs)
KSG: Why did you do that, Karan?
BB: He was just lightening up the moment. He is called ‘comic relief’ on the set. He got that nickname from Abhishek and Bhushan (Patel). One day, Bhushan called him for a shot which was very intense. It wasn’t his shot but Bhushan said, ‘Come on the set, we are all quite bored.’
KSG: It was excellent. I didn’t feel like I was working with them for the first time. They were like family. They didn’t make me feel like an outsider at all. I made mutton for them and brought it to the sets. It was fun.
BOI: Even though this was a horror film, the shoot seems to have been fun.
AP: Oh yes! It was a fun ride.
BOI: What was it about Alone that attracted you all to the film?
KSG: For me, it was the script. It’s the kind that grabs your attention from beginning to end.
BOI: What about you, Bipasha?
BB: Yeah, it’s definitely the story, the screenplay and the character. The way it has been adapted from the original Thai film is superlative. And the Thai film is also very good. The core for the film is the love story, so the emotions are very strong, the characters very deep. The twin girls, Sanjana and Anjana, are very different and both of them love this guy in very different ways. They whole film takes place because of love – the love that the sisters share, and their love for Kabir’s character.
It was a very interesting triangular love story and I have not done a passionate love story for a very long time. The character was fantastic and the story, the screenplay… everything. Honestly, I didn’t know that Bhushan had delivered two hits earlier. I came like this strict person with my 12 questions and told him these were a few questions that had to be signed. So he went through the list and after reading it, he asked me if I could sign it for him. After we finished the film, he told me he still had the paper with my 12 questions, signed! It was such a lot of fun from the second day itself. I remember I sat with my manager Tanuja (Mehra) and said that the director was fab!
It is such a relief when you like the character, you like the story and everything about the film and then a new director you are working with is also in sync with you. That makes the journey of the film incredible. So whether it was Kumarji, Abhishek, Bhushan, Karan, me, or even our DoP Prakashji, we were all in sync with each other. Everyone loved the film so much that they brought in their energies. I guess that’s what is attractive about Alone, whether it is the trade or the masses, people on the road or the classes. The classes, especially the Mumbai audience, are usually very snooty about horror films but they have all accepted the trailer with open arms. Every single person has told me that the trailer and the songs are really nice and that they love me and Karan in the film. We have given our best and that’s what is working for us.
BOI: Abhishek, why did you buy the rights to the Thai film?
AP: I had watched the trailer of the film online and it seemed like a brilliant film to make. So we got in touch with the producers. There was something about the conjoined sisters and both of them falling for the same guy that was very unique. It was a tremendous love story. Then Bhushanji came on board and we found fabulous writers in Sheershak and Shantanu, who wrote an amazing screenplay.
BB: The funny thing is that Kumarji came to me with the film and I was, like, ‘Kumarji you are offering me a horror film again. Do you know that I will have to answer this question to the media too?’ So I thought, let me not talk to Kumarji because kya hoga na mujhe acchi lag jaegi and I will end up doing another supernatural film.
AP: That’s why she didn’t respond, initially, when we called her. She kept dilly dallying for a month and a half. (Laughs)
BB: Yes. They kept calling me and I didn’t respond. I knew that Kumarji kahenge toh I will have to do it. So I tried to stall. And then I told Tanuja that since it was Kumarji who was offering us the film, we would listen to the narration and then pyaar se mana kar denge. Once we heard the film, I liked it and looked at Tanuja and told her, ‘It’s really nice. What do I do now?’ Tanuja and I decided that we would tell the media that I did a comedy in between, which happened to be my biggest horror film, by the way. That I learnt only after I finished the film that it was the biggest horror film of my life. So after Aatma, I thought there would be a supernatural film that I would be a part of, and then a comedy and then Creature, which was not exactly horror, it was a creature feature, and then this film. I was actually thinking up weird reasons like that. But, no, it was too good a story for me to pass up.
BB: Yes, I have to take the credit for the names of my character and Karan’s. His character did not suit the name in the script. So I suggested Kabir and my twin characters are Sanjana and Anjana. Earlier, the names wee Rajat, Sia and Nia.
BOI: And you are fighting with yourself in this film.
BB: It’s one thing to get scared but to scare is very scary. I have never played a ghost but I was scared in Raaz 3, which was very dark and intimidating. It was a very scary experience. So to scare was very tough because there is no benchmark to play a ghost. How do you behave? What will your face look like? As for being a woman… You are used to looking good as an actress, and now you have to really mess up your face and talk demonically and behave crazy. On the sets, Bhushan would be, like, ‘Turn and snarl!’ And I would say, ‘How do I do that?’ Everyone is looking at you and you are intimidated because you don’t know whether people will laugh or be scared.
AP: In fact, that was one of her questions on the 12-point list she gave Bhushan. How would she play a ghost?
BB: Haan, that was very important. I had told him that I was going to be very nice and not difficult at all and if you tell me to put on scary make-up and play my part, I wouldn’t do it because I would scar myself in my head. I said they could use any kind of special effects but I would not put on make-up and act scary. So he shot me with simple and clean make-up. I would always turn to Bhushan and ask if I was doing OK. And he would say, ‘Relax, you are doing fine.’ Karan and I have some very emotional scenes in the film since we play a married couple who have gone through so much. These scenes were tough to dub and Bhushan helped and encouraged us a lot. I give full credit to Bhushan.
BOI: Karan, you have a certain ‘lover boy’ image on TV. What made you choose a horror film to make your big-screen debut?
KSG: I have retained that image in the film too. Also, I don’t look at a genre when I am doing a film. I looked at whether the story was fascinating and whether I felt like being a part of it. So I simply liked the story and agreed to be a part of it. Now Abhishek and I will be doing three films together.
BOI: How different was it to work on the big screen vis-a-vis the small screen?
KSG: Much easier than television. With TV, we work longer hours; and there is a lot of stress on the sets because we have to deliver a certain amount of footage every single day. There s a lot more pressure. While shooting this film, we often packed up at 9 pm and I used to think, ‘Hamare do shots aur baaki hain corridor mein.’ When I would tell Bhushan this, he would reply, ‘Kal ka telecast hai kya?’ Our schedule lasted 55 days and I used to tell him if we work for a little longer every day, we could complete the film in 50 days. He used to be, like, ‘Why would I want to finish it in 50 days?’
BB: (Cuts in) Kumarji will love you.
KSG: So, there is much less stress than there is when you’re shooting for television. You get to concentrate more on your art than chasing the clock.
BB: I have a rule for myself that I don’t work more than 12 hours a day. I always tell them to never slot a shot of mine for 8:45 pm because I will not stay beyond 9 pm. I make that clear to everybody. Otherwise, one doesn’t have a life. During the first 3-4 years of my career, I used to frequently fall sick because I overexerted. So, during this film, they were scared to ask me, ‘how long will you stay?’ There were some scenes that should be shot then and there when you’re in that zone. So for this film, I often told the assistant directors, ‘Finish it, I am here’. The scenes were so intense that I felt I would not be able to get the same emotion the next day. But that was an exception. I grew very attached to the film.
BOI: Being positive is the key to success…
BB: (Cuts in) Absolutely! I have done 60 films and I have realised that if everyone approaches a film with positive energy, it gives the film a certain positive vibe.
BOI: That’s what happened with this film, from the first look to the songs. Everyone is praising the film.
KSG: Thoo thoo thoo… (Spits)
BB: That’s Karan Singh Grover who always does that. He is like my mother!
KSG: I am like my mother.
BB: But touch wood! Yes!!
AP: We have great music and a great emotional connect. It’s basically a love story and Jeet Ganguli, Raghav Sachchar, Mithoon and Ankit Tiwari have provided us great music, which is already topping the charts. Also the story around which the film revolves is about the emotional bond between two conjoined twins and the love story between three people. I don’t think it has been explored in Hindi films before. We have seen love triangles and love angles but two people joined together for life suddenly having a man in their lives, and a conflict… That’s very strong emotion and we are banking on it.