How Vicky Kaushal encountered his own fears in 'Bhoot'
In such a short career span - his first lead role was in 2015's Masaan - Vicky Kaushal has scaled great heights and has truly carved his place in Bollywood.
With critically acclaimed performances in back-to-back hits like Sanju, Uri: The Surgical Strike and Raazi, the actor deservedly won the National Award last year for his role as an army officer in Uri.
But did winning the prestigious change anything for the actor? "Not really, though it's a huge honour and acknowledgement for someone who has just started his career. Winning the award motivates me to push my boundaries as an actor. Moreover, It made my family and friends very happy and proud of me," said Kaushal to City Times, ahead of the release of his first horror film, Bhoot Part One: The Haunted Ship, releasing in the UAE this weekend.
The actor plays a survey officer investigating an abandoned ship in 'Bhoot'. It marks Kaushal's first foray into the horror genre. "It was a learning experience for me," he said.
"Frankly, there were many things I was not prepared for. For example, the grammar in the horror genre is completely different from other genres I've explored before. In terms of characterization, there was nothing too dramatic that I had to do like in my earlier movies such as Masaan or Sanju, where I had to learn a certain dialect for my part or Uri, where I had to pick up a certain body language, but for Bhoot, though my character was neutral, the grammar was fresh for me," he added.
Explaining further about the technical aspects in horror films, Kaushal said, "When you're doing dramatic scenes in other movies, you can rely on impulse and instinct while doing a scene, but in horror films, you have to time your reactions. Most of the times, you react to nothing on the sets. The paranormal presence you are reacting to is created in the post (production), including the sound effects. So you have to take your cues and react, and at the same time, gauge the reaction whether it's too subtle or over the top. In that sense, this genre was new for me."
The trailer of Bhoot shows Kaushal surveying an abandoned ship with glimpses of ghostly figures on board. "I play the character of Prithvi, a navy survey officer. The story revolves around an abandoned ship on Juhu beach. My job is to board the ship and find out the technical flaws in the vessel. During the survey, Prithvi encounters supernatural experiences. Every time he visits the ship, he gets sucked deeper and deeper into the mysteries on board, and what follows forms the crux of the story."
Bhoot is reportedly inspired by a true incident. But how true is the story to the original episode? Or has it been given a liberal, Bollywood style treatment?
"'Bhoot' is not completely based on the true incident. In 2011, there was a ship that was abandoned in Juhu. It became a major talking point in the city and (director) Bhanu had experienced that episode. It was from there the germ of this story was formed, 'what if there was a paranormal existence on board?' The only idea that was extracted from the true incident is the existence of the abandoned ship on Juhu beach, the rest is fiction."
When asked if he gets spooked in real life, Kaushal said. "I am scared of ghosts and I get spooked easily. Whenever I sit with friends and they narrate horror stories or we watch ghost films, I tend to believe they (ghosts) are real and I get scared."
Kaushal has never had any supernatural encounters, though he admits that he gets eerie feelings in certain places. "I travel to different locations for filming and stay in hotels. Sometimes, I've felt negative vibes in the places I've lived. You get an eerie feeling and think that something is off, but besides that, I haven't had any paranormal experience."
The actor recently opened about his phobias in a video. On remembering his first day of underwater shoot for Bhoot, he said, "I was panicking, I was scared and I couldn't deliver." When asked about his fears, he said. "I'm scared of snakes, but I have to admit that I'm very fearful of water, but in Bhoot, I had to do a lot of underwater filming which kind of helped me overcome 80 per cent of my phobia for water."
Ram Gopal Varma's Raat is one of Kaushal's favourite horror flicks. "I was a kid when I watched the movie and I recollect how I was scared after watching the film. Conjuring and Paranormal Activity are among my fav Hollywood horror flicks.
Kaushal gelled well with debutant director Bhanu Pratap Singh. "It was a great experience working with Bhanu. He a horror enthusiast and has seen almost every horror film. He was very excited about Bhoot. His vision was clear and full of conviction and we just followed him. We were open to each other's comments and that always helps."
The movie also features two other powerhouse actors Bhumi Pedndekar and Ashutosh Rana, so how was it sharing screen space with them? "Bhumi and I have been wanting to collaborate for a long time. Though she's done a cameo in Bhoot, we had a fun time. She's a very chilled out person and a passionate actor. With Ashutosh, it was a fanboy moment for me. I've grown up watching his movies, and I've been scared of certain characters he's portrayed on screen. Between takes, we used to chat a lot. I bonded well with him."
Kaushal is next starring in Karan Johar's period drama Takht, and he's all fired up for that? "We are starting filming in March and I just can't wait for the process to start."