Back in 70s, 80s and 90s horror genre was considered a C grade venture, it all changed in 2002 with Vikram Bhatt‘s Raaz. Upon the release, no one expected that a film featuring then newbies, Bipasha Basu and Dino Morea, and a genre that is considered too low class for audience will turn out to be the biggest blockbuster of that year in terms of profits. Chartbuster music, spooky premise, fine acting and able execution ensured the film’s smooth sailing. This year marks 25 years of Vikram Bhatt in the Hindi film industry as a filmmaker, so we caught with the director and chatted with him about his journey in Bollywood. And a conversation with Vikram Bhatt is incomplete without the mention of one of his biggest hits till date, Raaz.
When asked about if he had anticipated the unprecedented success of the film, reminiscing about Raaz, Vikram said, “No, no, no, as a matter of fact nobody wanted to do it. Everyone was like kya bhoot ka picture bana raha hai, C grade picture bana raha hai. A lot of people were of the opinion that I should not be making the film. Anyway, conviction is conviction and I went ahead and made it. And as they say, the rest is history.” Also read: EXCLUSIVE! Aamir Khan possess something interesting from the iconic train sequence in Ghulam, reveals Vikram Bhatt
When asked about such prejudice by audience and film industry to horror genre, and how it used to be the perception he said, “It is, haven’t really changed much. But what is B grade C grade yaar? Why blood and gore not aesthetic? We have this predetermined ideas of what is good and what is bad. Everybody stops to have a look at an accident. What is that inside you that makes you want to look at an accident? There is the most elemental thing in human thing is fear. Fear is the deepest of our emotion. So that’s not gonna go.”
He was then asked why does he think that horror genre is still not much exploited in India, is it because A list stars stay away from it, he explained, “It only because they know that they are not gonna get great reviews. Horror films never get great reviews because horror is about suspension of disbelief, right? Now you can come into a horror film saying ghost don’t exist. That’s a strange way of seeing a horror film. That’s like seeing Mahabharat and Ramayan and saying Gods don’t exist. So if you are coming with the idea of watching a horror film, trying to say that ghost and supernatural doesn’t exist. You don’t have to take the story seriously in the sense, you watch fantasy, you watch Narnia, you watch Star Wars, that space doesn’t exist. You watch Alien, aliens don’t exist or if they exist we don’t know. So, one has this typical mentality, if it doesn’t exist…if it’s not about poverty, realism or any real issue, then it’s not good enough. That’s a very myopic way of looking at things.”
Later, when I asked him then what is the reason behind same audience lapping up Hollywood horror films, who see Hindi horror in sheer disbelief, he said, “See India is… I’ll tell you what today is huge hypocrisy amongst people here. See if I’ll show you somebody reading from the bible and doing exorcism, you’ll lap it up. But if I’ll get priest and he reads Hanuman Chalisa, you’ll be like ‘What Shit!’ So in our mind we are still a slave to western culture. If you are watching Exorcism Of Emily Rose, you love it, if similar thing is happening here, you’ll be like aisa thode hi hota hai. It’s all mumbo-jumbo. Woh mumbo-jumbo nahin hai? Unka prayer mumbo-jumbo nahin hai, hamara prayer mumbo-jumbo hai. I don’t know what it is but for us our Gods and our religion is mumbo-jumbo, their Gods and their religion is pious. That’s because you see it in English films. What’s not mumbo-jumbo about exorcist? They reading from the Bible, she’s going around vomiting and everything but that’s not mumbo-jumbo.” Also read: Vikram Bhatt wants Hrithik Roshan to play Pennywise – The Dancing Clown in the Indian version of Stephen King’s IT
Finally coming back to the topic of Raaz and its three sequels, I asked him what he thinks is the reason behind non-performance of the fourth part of Raaz series, Raaz Reboot. He contemplated, “I think, ‘A’ the film wasn’t great, ‘B’, I think people have moved away from…Raaz 1 came in 2002 and we are talking 15 years later, I think the kind of horror films to be made is now changed which is what I have done in 1921.”
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