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They’ve worked together before but this is the first time they’ve worked together on a horror film. It’s also the first time Manisha Koirala has attempted the horror genre. Ram Gopal Varma and Manisha Koirala talk to Soumita Sengupta about their upcoming project Bhoot Returns

Is Bhoot Returns a sequel or a new story?

Ram Gopal Varma (RGV): Bhoot Returns was my idea. But I don’t want to take the old story forward. That’s when I started working on a new script. I wanted to bring something new to the table. As a genre, horror has always inspired me, and when the script of Bhoot Returns was ready, my first choice for the film was JD Chakravarthy and Manisha Koirala.


What made you say ‘yes’ to Bhoot Returns?

Manisha Koirala (MK): Ramu narrated the script to me when I was here from Nepal. It was very different, especially my character, something I have never done before. That’s why I said ‘yes’ to
Bhoot Returns.


But isn’t the horror genre risky because it doesn’t attract many viewers?

RGV: I personally like the horror genre, and as a filmmaker, it is impossible for me to keep track on what kind of films audience will watch. If a film is good, everyone will watch it. And I make films I believe in. Also, for instance, a scene may not scare me but it may scare the audience. That applies to everything, so horror is not the only risky genre.

MK: I agree. As filmmakers and as actors, we do our best. If the content is good, people will watch the film.


When you made Bhoot, you challenged people to watch the film alone. Have you ever watched a horror film alone? Is there any incident you would like to share?

RGV: I always watch horror films alone. If you don’t do that, you don’t enjoy them. I was once watching a horror film with a girl and I expected her to hug me during the film. But she didn’t.

MK: (Laughs) I have watched horror films but not alone because I get
scared easily.


So how come you signed a horror film?

RGV (Cuts in): Here, she’s acting and scaring other people.


Have you shot the film in 3D or converted it?

RGV: I have shot the film in 3D. It’s something I have wanted to do for a long time. 3D effects have always fascinated me and horror is the best genre to use 3D. But, to shoot a film in 3D, the script has to be right. The right application of 3D in a horror film can greatly enhance the element of fear.


Isn’t shooting in 3D very time consuming? And, here, you are working with a child. Did you lose patience? Also, is it difficult to shoot in 3D?

RGV: Yes, it takes much longer to shoot a film in 3D. Thankfully, I was working with the best actors like JD and Manisha, and even the child artist.

MK (Cuts in): She is brilliant. It took her just two to three scenes to get used to the camera. After that, she looked like a born actress.

RGV: Coming back to 3D… it’s the kind of technology with which you can do so many things. But the technology alone does not make the film work. To know what I mean, look back at the other horror films made in 3D. All of them didn’t work. Only Haunted and Raaz 3 did exceptionally well. In Bhoot Returns, the 3D effect will heighten the sense of reality.


Is it true that 3D effects help to make a horror film scarier?

RGV: Yes, you can use 3D to create a clearer picture but the script also matters. That’s why not every 3D film works.

Is it difficult to manage a child on the sets and draw the best from them?

MK: Not at all. Children are innocent, and Alayna Sharma is a great actress. She knew exactly what she was doing.

RGV: Luckily, she happened to be very good, which is very rare in a child. But I don’t think kids are innocent. As a kid, I used to steal money from my dad’s pocket, and you should watch a child kill an insect (Laughs).


You have such a great sense of humour. Why don’t you attempt comedy again?

RGV: Who said I haven’t? I made Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag, which was actually a comedy but people took it seriously.

MK: Laughs… laughs… laughs

You have worked together before. Have either of you noticed any changes in the other? How would you describe each other?

MK: RGV is just the same. He delivers you a narration only twice, when you start shooting. Then, you have to take it forward. He usually makes dark films or horror films but he has a great sense of humour. He’s very entertaining. So while working with him, you’re never bored. He is also never stressed, which is why it’s so great to work with him. For him, it’s all about cinema.

RGV: She is the worst actress I have ever worked with. She still doesn’t understand camera angles. (Laughs)


There was a time when you were one of a handful of directors who experimented with genres. Now there are so many directors who have new concepts. How do you regard this stage of Bollywood?

RGV: It’s a very good phase in Bollywood because the audience is spoilt for choice. At one point, only family dramas worked, then came romance, then gangster movies. Now you have all kinds of films and it’s a good thing.

MK: I can see a bunch of new talented directors working very hard and coming up with new ideas. Even actors and actresses. The last film I watched was Paan Singh Tomar directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia, and I really liked his work. It’s a good sign because not everyone wants to watch action or romantic films.


What next?

RGV: 26/11. That’s what I am concentrating on next.

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