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Chhorii makers on the potential of horror genre and telling desi stories

The horror genre in Indian cinema has been largely split into two types – the low-budget, over the top tacky variety of the Ramsay Brothers, and more sophisticated presentations, albeit with a lot of superstitious leanings. However, there have been some movies over the years that have stood out among the standout Bollywood scare fest, the most noteworthy being Ram Gopal Varma’s ‘Raat’ and ‘Bhoot’, Vikram Bhatt’s ‘Raaz’, Amar Kaushik’s horror-comedy ‘Stree’, Rahi Anil Barve’s brilliant ‘Tumbbad’, Vishal Furia’s ‘Lapachhapi’, among others.

Films like ‘Stree’, ‘Tumbbad’, ‘Lapachhapi’ are based on Indian folk stories instead of following Western horror films and have won over the audiences.

Recently released ‘Chhorii’ has been gaining traction. Directed by Vishal Furia and currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video, ‘Chhorii’ is a remake of Furia’s original Marathi horror blockbuster ‘Lapachhapi’ (2017). Pooja Sawant plays a pregnant urbanite, who is striving to safeguard her unborn child from terrifying real and otherworldly beings. The film’s rustic background is particularly intriguing, a cottage in the middle of a sugarcane plantation. Danger lurks around every corner, making ‘Lapachhapi’ one of the few Indian horror films set in a hamlet during the day. ‘Chhorii’ has Nushrratt Bharuccha in the lead role.

In an interview with Adgully, the movie’s producers, Vikram Malhotra and Jack Davis, along with the director Vishal Furia, give some wonderful insights on the making of the film and the emergence of the horror genre movies.

As to what prompted him to make ‘Chhorii’ with Nushrratt Bharuccha in a pivotal role, Vishal Malhotra said that they had received a lot of acknowledgement from the female viewers for ‘Lapachhapi’ and they could relate with the protagonist.

“But this was confined to a particular audience; this struck me and I decided to make one for a larger audience. And at the same time, Vikram also saw the film. He then called me over and then we had a chat. Vikram also had his own honest perspective for horror. We were in sync there. Vikram had already worked with Nushrratt, and he came up with the name and I agreed at once. Nushrratt has the vibes of the girl-next-door and she has something inside her that she wants to prove,” said Malhotra.

Jack Davis explained how the genre of horror films is coming of age in India. “The horror genre has been seen in the past as cheesy, or B grade. But, I think everything about this film is an A, because you have a great character: a wonderful actor Nushrratt. And you have a really great director Vishal. Horror can be great, as long as you care about the character. So, when you care about the characters that's when you really feel the fear. And Vishal is good with the camera; he doesn’t want to just resort to camera tricks to create a scary scene. He wanted to create real tension and real emotion in the characters. And I think that comes through here. If the horror genre is going to continue to rise in Hindi film and in India, it's going to be because of directors like Vishal who care for it, instead of just relying on a few jump scares here and there.”

Malhotra threw some light on seeing an increasing collaboration between the Indian and the foreign production houses for creating an amazing line-up of horror movies in future. He feels that the pure horror genre, with a market that yearns for scary content, is largely underserved in India.

“We are working with gifted creators like Vishal and strategically important partners like Jack to bring their expertise and their brand to this country, and we can see future partnerships with foreign production houses,” Malhotra said.

About featuring a female protagonist in horror movies, Malhotra said, “A female is somebody who cannot be dangerous. So, when suddenly a female becomes dangerous, and acting weird, it leads to a very scary situation. That is why females protecting from female ghosts have a certain impact. However, this is not that kind of a film, even though the female is a ghost. The protagonist also is a female and the other important characters in the films are also females. In ‘Chhorri’, we are attempting to say something more than just a frivolous horror story. So, once you see the film, you will have an idea of what I'm talking about and the larger picture that is at play.”

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