Is Kaal setting trend for shiver givers?
When debutant Soham Shah's film Kaal got an overwhelming opening, everyone said it had something to do with Karan Johar's marketing acumen. Well, now this supernatural thriller has sailed across the first weekend to become a sure-shot winner.
Producer Karan Johar can't believe the departure from his patent style has paid such rich dividends.
"Let's admit it, I could've never directed Kaal. It's much too scary for me to watch, let alone make. I guess Kaal has shocked many, especially by getting a better opening than my own films Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham. It's caused a lot of anxiety in the trade," chuckles the proud producer.
So is this the beginning of a new phase in the hoary history of the supernatural thriller?
Barely a month after Kaal, it will be time for another debutant director, Shripal Morakhia, to create a hellish haven out of Urmila Matondkar's supernatural experience in Naina.
Urmila describes it as one of her most challenging roles ever. "It's relatively easy to play blind. But to play someone who regains her eyesight after 20 years and to get a grip of a world of vision after an eternity of darkness... this was something unbelievably hard to do. I had to take professional advice on how a girl would behave under these circumstances."
Filmmakers, specially the younger lot, are certainly getting more cautious and meticulous about how they project the much-abused horror genre to the public.
Even Saurabh Narang, another debutant who directed Vastu Shastra for Ramgopal Varma, went into great detail about the ambience he created in his film. Much of the suspense in Vast Shastra depended on a little boy's responses to the eerie happenings in the house.
Manoj Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense came to mind while watching the boy in Narang's shiver giver.
The producers of Naina, I Dreams, are pulling out all the stops for the promotion of the film. The budget for the film's publicity seems to be higher than its production costs. This is understandable in the light of the fact that there are no stars in the film apart from Urmila. Besides her fee, all the resources have gone into creating an eerie terror through the experiences of a blind girl who can 'see' ghosts.
According to Ashish Bhatnagar of I Dreams, "Naina is one of our most prestigious products. And we're certainly proud of it. The locations (London) and special effects are of an international calibre, if we may say so ourselves."
After Kaal, if Naina works, we're sure to have many spooky spin-offs.
"That's dangerous," says spook specialist Ramgopal Varma. "Because all the supernatural thrillers that came after Bhoot were disasters, including my own Darna Manaa Hai and Vastu Shastra. Still I'm going ahead with the sequel to Darna Manaa Hai. I love the horror genre. In fact people keep asking me questions about Kaal and Naina as though they're my films."
Though Soham Shah is going to make another thriller next, Sourabh Narang intends to go into a totally different genre.
Whether more directors, new or otherwise, come forward to stake their claims in the supernatural genre depends entirely on the fate of Naina.
"I feel as though I'm being held responsible for the future of our cinema. But horror is a serious matter. I'm glad we're realising that," says Urmila.