"In India, we are required to make far more fuller films when it comes to horror", says Vikram Bhatt who is sure about 'selling fear' in each of his films to come, "You need to have a love story, great music, good locations, the works. Look at films like Woh Kaun Thi, Bees Saal Baad or Kohra from the past - you always need to do a lot more. Our films come from this lineage; this is where we got out horror germ from. Audience look for 'our' kind of films. We don't come from Ringu and Grudge lineage."
It is also often said that horror is the safest bet of all amongst all genres since it can be made 'cheap'.
"The term 'cheap' would be too harsh. In fact horror should not be treated as a cheap shot", protests Bhatt, "The bare minimum requirement is to have a production value, some nice songs and dances and overall a milieu which is scary. Now that is immensely tougher because you have to rely upon nothing but visuals here."
Still, one can't deny the fact that there is a lot of cost saving involved due to new faces that can be roped in for a horror tale. After all the star of the show is invariably the director and if he comes with good enough skill sets, the new actors (if reasonably talented) can pull through the film.
"Well yes, it is true that in horror films, it is the director who is the star", says Vikram, "In fact that's a trend across the world where most of the horror classics too haven't quite boasted of big actors. Have you ever heard of a Tom Cruise or an Arnold or a Stallone in a horror film? Having said that, the fact cannot be denied is that some of the talent which is launched in horror films goes on to be much bigger in films to come."
Narrating a few examples, Vikram consolidates his point, "Look at films like Final Destination or Paranormal Activity. Now who has seen these actors earlier? See, fear sells on its own, but you have to work equally hard to get your product noticed."
After 1920 and Shaapit, is Vikram chartering a set route where he would be working primarily with newcomers? Has he lost the appetite of working with stars?
"Well, that's not the entire truth actually", says Vikram after a brief pause, "I do believe that there are some films that cannot be made without stars. But then the bitter truth is that those who are available are not saleable and while the ones who are saleable are not available. In such a case, the best choice for a filmmaker is to make him a brand name. As far as horror films are concerned, I guess Vikram Bhatt is a brand name. Now as long as I have that core competence, I don't need a star."
Shaapit has turned out to be a decent earner at the box office. A safe investment, though a mind blowing opening was never expected out of it, a decent fare was pretty much on the cards, hence turning this Vikram Bhatt directed film into a plus affair. As his horror trilogy (after Raaz and 1920) comes to a conclusion, Bhatt looks at the difference in the way horror films are treated in Bollywood v/s rest of the world.