Director Bhushan Patel with the recently released ‘Alone’ and two other horror films in the past, has carved a niche for himself.
You made your debut as a director with the horror film, 1920 Evil Returns. What attracts you to this genre?
I started my career as a director of photography (DOP) and have shot several feature films for Mahesh Bhatt and Vikram Bhatt. It was Vikram Bhatt who introduced me to this genre. He felt that I was capable of helming a horror film so he signed me for 1920 Evil Returns. The film did well and as is the norm, if you succeed in one genre, you are inundated with similar offers. Ekta Kapoor liked the film and offered me Ragini MMS 2 even before my first film released.
Similarly, for Alone when Kumar Mangat Pathak saw Ragini MMS 2, he thought I was capable of helming this Thai film, the rights of which he had already acquired. Besides, I also love shooting for such films. After making my first horror film, I realised that it is a very interesting genre. It is more creative and challenging to make a horror film, and since I am a DOP, it gives me more scope to play with the lighting and the look of the film. I not only love to scare people but also like to get scared myself. Having said that, I made three back-to-back horror films for the simple reason that they were offered to me. And since they were from reputed production houses, I decided to helm them.
It is more the case of producers chosing me than consciously picking out horror films. How challenging was it to adapt the Thai film Alone? Did you introduce anything new in the Bipasaha Basu starrer?
■ The Thai film did not have the possession angle. To make the film relatable to the Indian audience, I introduced this possession angle, as we Indians are more familiar with this concept, which is otherwise alien in Korean and Thai films. Although the first half is more or less the same, post the interval Bipasha gets possessed by the sister who returns as a ghost to consummate her relationship with her boyfriend. I have also tweaked the climax a bit. In the original, the sister comes to stay in the house, while I have shown it in a different manner in Alone.
The critics haven’t been too generous towards the film. How has the response from the audience been?
■ From what I have learnt, people have loved the film. They did not expect the emotional angle — and it worked very well — in a horror film.
It is not merely a horror film, with scary moments. People have liked the love angle in the story. The critics are never too kind to horror films. I don’t make films for the critics, Ragini… did not get good critical reviews but it did extremely well in terms of business. My concern is to keep the producers and the audiences happy. I wish the critics would make one film and we could review it. Hopefully, I will make a film one day which will make the critics happy.
What are the elements that make for a good horror flick?
■ Sound plays a very integral part in a horror film. When you get scared, you actually shut your ears instead of your eyes. The presence and absence of sound is very important for a film in this genre. Absolute silence is also very scary. I know of people who switch on their TV when they go to sleep because they need some sound. The sound and not the visual effect is what frightens a person the most. The sound of creaking doors are only to up the ante of the horror.
The critics are never too kind to horror films. I dont make films for the critics, Ragini… did not get good critical reviews but it did extremely well in terms of business. My concern is to keep the producers and the audiences happy.
Bhoot,which had a very good story, is my all-time favourite horror film. A director also needs to be a good story-teller to scare the audience. We cannot just put a string of horror sequences; interesting connecting threads have to be woven in to make the film appealing.
After Alone, what is the next project you are working on?
■ There are two to three story ideas that I am working on, but I haven’t decided anything as yet. Hopefully, by next month or so, I will be able to give a definite answer.