Like any true blue Dharma Productions’ director, Bhanu Pratap Singh wanted to make his debut with a romantic film and then Bhoot Part One: The Haunted Ship happened.
The film, starring Vicky Kaushal, Bhumi Pednekar and Ashutosh Rana, was one of the scripts that Bhanu thought he would work on after he had established himself as a director.
Based on true events, Bhoot features Vicky as Prithvi, the surveying officer of Seabird, an unmanned ship which washes ashore on Mumbai beach. How Prithvi tries to investigate what happened on the ship while dealing with a spirit is the plot.
Bhanu served as assistant director on Shashank Khaitan’s Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania (2014), which was backed by the same banner.
“I knew what kind of films Dharma made. So I also wanted to write a romantic comedy and I did. I love horror genre but wanted to take it up after initially directing four-five films. Shashank is a good friend, we were also together in college.
“After we finished shooting for Humpty…, I told him I wanted to take a break for two-three months, and I’m going to write a script. Later, I went to him and he read it. He then joked, ‘I copied Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge and you copied Humpty Sharma…. But I wondered if I subconsciously did that?” the director told PTI in an interview here.
Shashank asked Bhanu to come up with more ideas and when cargo ship MV Wisdom sailed into Juhu Beach in 2011, the director went on the beach and was enamoured by its enormity.
“I was perplexed. And the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ just got stuck with me. I kind of wrote 5-10 pages around it and got it out of my system. Shashank liked the story. He asked me to focus on the script and said ‘let’s shock them’,” he added.
The script changed many hands and finally landed on Karan Johar’s desk.
“Five minutes into the meeting, Karan said ‘Okay, let’s do it’. I longed to hear those words for 10-12 years. He said yes in just five minutes. I was over the moon.”
Bhanu said he wanted to make “Bhoot” because he loves the genre.
“We would consume other language films, and there hasn’t been a good Hindi horror film in recent times. Or the frequency of them being made was low. There is hardly a film in a year or two. We don’t make them enough. So there was always a void.”
The director said horror is not restricted to scaring the viewer, one has to get the emotion and atmospherics on point.
“It’s also about the silences. Jump scare is a necessity, it’s a trope you need to have. But you can’t just have that. Above all, horror has to come along a story and emotions,” he said.
“The basis of our film is a strong story at its core with the jump scares and atmospheric scares. We’re trying to do something unique. It will give other people confidence to produce that kind of stuff so that we can reach a certain level,” he added.
The filmmaker said the story of The Haunted Ship will be over in this part, and depending on the film’s performance, another story will carry forward the “Bhoot” franchise.
Friday will see two new directors — Bhanu and Hitesh Kewalya of Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan, starring Ayushmann Khurrana and Jitendra Kumar, battle it out.
Asked whether he was jittery about the face-off, Bhanu said he was “nervous” but believes there’s enough audience for both the films.
“Good films prevail. I wish them all the best. Our film is really good. I don’t know about that film, it looks good. It’s a different space… If both films are good, both will work. That’s what we’re hoping for,” he said.
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