Interview By: DRISHTI PANDEY
Siddharth’s forthcoming film ‘The House Next Door’ is a horror thriller film which is based on some true events. It has been shot in three different languages, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. The actor who made an impact in Hindi cinema with films like ‘Rang De Basanti’ and Chashme Baddoor’, is here to talk to us about his love for horror movies and how he always wanted to make one. Also shares his perspective on Bollywood and Hollywood horror films. Excerpts:
“The House Next Door’ is based on a true story that happened to people I know ”
Firstly, was it your thought process behind this film and that’s why you collaborated with director Milind to produce and co-write?
Actually how it happened was that Milind and I have been best friends for 17 years. So, we both have been big fans of horror films. We see all the films in theatres and we used to discuss that we will make a good horror film one day. But then we never caught around to do the right thing. So then about 4-5 years ago, Milind said that ‘I am ready! Let’s do this and let’s start writing.’ So then we started building about what we have to do and what we don’t have to – like the dos and don’ts. So the classic don’ts were we don’t want to make what has been made already. So there’s no dilution, there should not be any comedy, no unnecessary songs or item songs, no sex scenes. The do’s list includes that we make an original gimmick and we will make really a scary film. Because we both love horror and I believe that people love to get scared. So we want to make a pure horror film. So we started from there. Milind came and gave me 3-4 templates, then we narrowed on one and then we started writing. We did a lot of research and we met people, people that we knew in Himachal Pradesh where we got some instances which really inspired us. So that’s the incident the film is based on. This is based on a true story that happened to real people who I know. So there’s a mix of both of that. It took us 4.5 years to write because the thing is this is that the genre’s literally never been done in this way before. When ‘Conjuring’ or ‘Annabelle’ comes out, everyone goes to see it but when we make a horror film, we show something else only. So when we started writing it, the research took time and then there was the emotional aspect of the film. If two people go to watch this film, so one might only believe in science and other might believe in everything. So when you see the film, both will argue. Milind and I are like that. So one month he becomes a believer and I become a scientist and vice versa. So it took a lot of time and lot of argument. That’s a very exciting process. Then we compared the film with the dos and don’ts list, we made exactly the same film which we wanted to make. It’s just really a very scary horror film. And we have also tried to keep it very realistic. Usually, horror films are not supposed to be realistic here. But if you see a South Korean or a Japanese horror films, they are very real. When you see the house which we are in, it’s one of the most beautiful houses that I have seen. Generally, if you see a horror film, it is a haunted house. But this house if you see you will want to live there, it’s so beautiful but it has also something going on. So that’s what the film is. The reality of the film has not compromised anywhere. We have maintained the same thing for the performances, there is no loud performance. We have genuinely tried to scare people. When I tested the film, I showed the film to 200 people, they all were so scared.
But don’t you think that people will still make some comparisons with other horror movies?
I think if they make a comparison, they will only make it with Hollywood films because the standard of the film is there. I am not someone who copies anything, so there’s nothing that is taken from anything. If you see the comments on YouTube (trailer) also, out of 10, 7 comments are that it looks like a Hollywood film. That’s a good thing because it has a visual standard and it does not look cheap.
Any particular Hollywood film that inspires you?
I don’t think a film inspired me. This genre has inspired me. Milind and I have been watching this genre from many years. And I have been watching horror films since I was a kid. Whether you like it or not, it’s there inside you subconsciously. For me, Japanese films are where I take my inspiration from and Milind likes South Korean. So they both are scary. Now, what we want to do is – Everybody says Indian films don’t have a face but with this, we want to give India its first film.
But this is the genre that is not highly appreciated in India and as a producer, you will be obviously worried about the returns the movie will get. And horror movies as such don’t have a really good track. So are you worried about that?
I think bad horror movies don’t have good track record, good horror movies have a great track record. I have made a great horror film. I mean I don’t say this for all my films, this is a game changer.
Tell us something about the background research part.
We did a lot of paranormal research, so we have not only met rational thinkers but also people who had lot of experiences. Because when we want to show the scares, if a scare is recreated from another film that makes no sense. So have created scares from scratch. So if you see the trailer, it is not from other films. So we have tried to make a unique horror and that’s where the research comes in handy.
Do you believe in ghosts?
Well, as of now I believe in ghosts in my film but next week I don’t know because you are constantly evolving as a rational thinker or a free thinker.
You have shot the film three times in three different languages. So was it taxing?
It’s shot in several languages but it was written as a Hindi film as it happens in Himachal Pradesh. Then we decided to make it in the other languages. And if you are having fun, it is never taxing. It’s like talking to one journalist can be tiring but talking to six can be fun. It depends on what you see as fun and what you see as taxing.