By Siddhi Pathak
The opening weekend collections of Bhoothnath Returns were Rs. 18.2 crores. Did the collections match your expectations?
It’s very difficult to expect anything because the box office is so unpredictable. Having said that, when you put in so much effort into a project which is close to your heart, one does have certain expectations. I felt sincerely rewarded at the way the film performed over the weekend. It grew through word of mouth.
Were there any specific regions of the country where the film did better? What could have been the reasons for it?
As far as I know, the film has done very well at multiplexes, but in single screens it could’ve done better. The primary reason for this could be that the single screen audience is very different and they need a very different kind of content to entertain them. However, the film continues to do well at the multiplexes.
Are you happy with the responses you have received for the film?
It’s extremely heartening to see people actually applauding at the end of the film. That’s something rare. It was not only in some screenings which I personally attended but even my friends experienced it. I’ve received messages from friends at 2 am informing me about the way the film has performed. I have even received some feel-good messages from strangers. One common response that I’ve got is, ‘Thank you for giving us a movie for which we could take our parents and kids. Both were equally happy watching the film.’ It’s not just congratulatory messages that are pouring in, but they are coming in form of blessings also. And this makes me very happy.
Though an entertaining film, Bhoothnath Returns also gives the socio-political message of going out and casting your vote. As a director, how did you manage to strike the balance?
Our films are generally centered around friendship with elections in the background. But in Bhoothnath Returns, we decided to give ample importance to the elections as well. Otherwise, it would seem very superficial. It would’ve been very easy to make a film which was funny throughout as that comes naturally to us but the gravity of the message would’ve been lost. When you’re talking about something of National importance, you cannot put in under the typical mark of ‘Hindi Entertainment’. When you want to make a difference to the Nation and the way people think, you have to deliver it in a serious manner. You can’t deal with it in a flippant way. Hence, we consciously chose to get serious towards the second half of the film. We wanted to make a difference. Now I’ve got messages that they will go and vote and that they’ll also find out what their candidates are doing in their respective constituencies. If a movie can have that kind of impact, then as a film-maker, you feel more than rewarded. If I’ve made a little difference to the Nation, to me, that’s really heartening.
With veteran actors like Amitabh Bachchan and Boman Irani on the one hand and debutante Parth Bhalerao on the other, what challenges did you face while shooting?
The biggest challenge was that I always wanted to shoot something that was extremely real, barring the bhooth effect. That was something we had to create as there was no reference point. We created our own bhooth world which had its own set of challenges. We wanted to make the look as surreal as possible and hence we opted for VFX, set extensions and foreign locations so that at least they give a different feel to the movie, adding all the supernatural elements. The next challenge was to keep it extremely real when the premise itself permits so much creative liberty. That would have been possible only if we would’ve shot in extreme real locations. Thankfully we had the backing and support of both, Boman sir and Mr. Bachchan. They were willing shoot at any location. We have taken Mr. Bachchan to an under construction building which did not have a lift, dirty railway tracks, on top of a boat, dingy lanes. Boman sir was taken to Dharavi slums which was nothing short of a chaos. A lot of planning and hardships went into ensuring that the film looked real. And this was possible with the wonderful co-operation of such big names.