Vicky Kaushal on experimenting with Bhoot - Part One: The Haunted Ship, and why he's scared of watching horror films

Seema Sinha

Feb 19, 2020 08:08:56 IST

Vicky Kaushal has been riding high on the success of Uri: The Surgical Strike, that released last year. From starring in action-thrillers to romantic and espionage flicks, the actor has now tried the horror genre with his next, Bhoot - Part One: The Haunted Ship

It was the concept that attracted the actor. Probably, he also wanted to overcome his fear as he confesses to being terrified of watching horror films. “When I read the script, what fascinated me was its geography. It was almost like Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. I liked the thought that there is a vacant hotel, there are so many rooms, and there is just one person, so anything can happen anywhere. There is a lot to play with. This is the same geography where there is a dilapidated big container ship. There are 10 floors, 300 rooms, engine room, pump room, staircases. So there are many textures in this geography, and anything can happen. You can fall, you can get trapped. There are so many possibilities that get created, and we have juiced out everything,” says Vicky. 

 Vicky Kaushal on experimenting with Bhoot - Part One: The Haunted Ship, and why hes scared of watching horror films

Vicky Kaushal in a still from Bhoot - Part One: The Haunted Ship

“And if you are stuck on a ship, how much ever you cry for help, it won’t reach out. It was very interesting that in one corner, in this 10-storeyed ship, you are trapped. So how would you come out? And if there is paranormal presence then the stake for me was very high that how will it happen? The conflict is too rich so all of this attracted me to the script. Also, we have stuck to the genre. There is no side-track, there is no album of song or comic relief which is usually inserted to lure the audience. So far, we are in a very eerie space playing with human emotions in horror films. But this film is kind of a mix of both. It is a psycho-thriller as well as pure horror. There is a paranormal entity, and it is not something that is going on only in your head. If this is liked then we can keep evolving further,” he further adds.

Vicky says he found the horror genre extremely tricky and technical as compared to comedy or drama, where an actor can rehearse and leave it to the moment. For the horror flick, he had to know everything in advance. “It becomes very tricky when you are a solo performer because I, as an actor, personally enjoy when there are co-actors with me. You exchange energy with each other, create a scene, and you keep the scene alive and try to do something new, which perhaps is not written. But here, when I was on the ship, and had to shoot those haunted moments. I wondered who do I shoot with because the 'ghost' will come later, only in post-production (laughs). I am supposed to react as if it is dark, I can’t see anything clearly but during the shoot, it is all well-lit and that itself is a very tricky layer to perform in. It would become very technical that there is no ghost, no sound, and still, you have to react. It would become difficult for me because I like to be in a flow when I am performing but here, it wasn’t possible because camera was set for a particular moment. You have to comply to what has been designed for that scene,” explains Vicky.

Further, talking about challenges while shooting the film, the actor says set discipline was extremely important to build the right atmosphere. “So that the actual sound which would impact the character happens at the right time. Most of the time we were shooting in the interior of the ship, and we couldn’t have people walking around because then the set might just fall. On set, we couldn't be frivolous. There were narrow passages which had to accommodate camera, sound, and after all that, we have to show as if there was no one on the ship. I had to behave as if I am feeling alone, and that loneliness should get transmitted to the audience. That would become tricky,” he says.  

Also, it was for the first time, Vicky says, he would check the monitor after every scene, and was more collaborative with the director (debutant Bhanu Pratap Singh). “Usually, when I am performing drama or comedy, I go by my director’s decision. But here, there was a need to check how is the expression of fear looking because when we are shooting, there is no background music or visuals, it's just the expressions. If I don’t react or if I over-react to the 'ghost' then that fear won’t reach you. I used to keep jamming with the director asking what are the visuals, how will he edit, what's the background score. I was discovering all this while I was shooting but otherwise, I don’t interfere."

Not many know Vicky is “too scared to watch horror films,” and he also suffers from hydrophobia. “I go for horror movie maybe once a year. I like watching with a set of friends and preferably with someone who gets more scared than me. But I decided to do a ghost film because I know that as soon as a scene is cut, you are going to have tea with the ghost (jokes and laughs heartily). On a serious note, while I was reading the script, I really got sucked into the story. So once that happens then it's about following your heart,” he says, “But yes, I would love to overcome my fear because I get very jealous of people who say that they enjoy watching horror films. I tell them that they don’t have any imagination. If I see something in a kitchen, I start imagining that in my kitchen. Nothing has happened with me that I will believe in ghost but when somebody says that they have experienced it, I am not someone who would say that I don’t believe. I trust that person, and then I sleep with that person only (laughs). I can’t sleep alone after listening to somebody’s ghost experience. I also had a phobia of water, and after doing Bhoot, I could overcome it. But if I am able to do scuba diving in the night then I will overcome fear of water completely.” 

Post the massive success of Uri, his first big-budget solo film, it has been an “eventful” and “beautiful” year for Vicky, with him winning the National Award, completing two films, and signing a few more. Vicky’s future projects, Shoojit Sircar’s Sardar Udham Singh, a biopic on the freedom fighter; superhero action drama The Immortal Ashwatthama (directed by Uri director Aditya    Dhar), Karan Johar’s period drama Takht, and biopic on Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, to be directed by Meghna Gulzar, will keep him busy till 2022.

Vicky Kaushal in first look stills of the Sam Manekshaw biopic and Sardar Uddham Singh

Vicky Kaushal in first look stills of the Sam Manekshaw biopic and Sardar Uddham Singh

When asked if it was a conscious decision to work on different genres, Vicky says, “As an artiste, I won’t be able to justify my work if I plan because it will make me very rigid as an actor. What is more important is to be part of good films, made by good filmmakers because people want to see good stories. If you give them five back-to-back good romantic films, they won’t get bored. Before Uri, I had not explored action, and I had the hunger to do that. Similarly with Bhoot, I am understanding horror genre even as I am not the audience of this genre. This way, I will remain alive as an actor, and not become complacent, thinking this is my home ground,” he concludes.

Bhoot - Part One: The Haunted Ship, produced by Karan Johar's Dharma Productions, is slated to release this Friday on 21 February.

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Updated Date: Feb 19, 2020 08:08:56 IST