Vishal Furia’s ‘Lapachhapi’ is a unique film. One of the few Marathi horror films, Vishal admits that none of the horror scenes are shot in the night – a far cry from even the mainstream horror films in Bollywood. We caught up with the young director to find out what Lapachhapi was all about. Read the full interview below:
So, why a Marathi horror film?
I made the film in Marathi because it is a very accepting and receptive audience. It’s a progressive audience. There are so many Marathi films that have been successes that don’t have the star power behind them. It becomes easier for someone to experiment with Marathi cinema because of the intelligent audience. There are many things that you cannot do while making a Bollywood film – because it is a pan- India project. You have to follow a formula, something that would work throughout India. In that sense, Marathi cinema is ahead as you can experiment.
Did you think of making Lapachhapi in Hindi?
There are many things that you cannot do while making a Bollywood film – because it is a pan- India project. You have to follow a formula, something that would work throughout India. In that sense, Marathi cinema is ahead as you can experiment.
Lapachhapi doesn’t have sex and songs in the film. The song that you hear is in the promotions and as a background. Whenever I went to the producers with this script, they were not open to these ideas. They wanted to do different things but had no idea what different things really are. So, the conversations would start with ‘let’s do something different’, but then it would all boil down to the same old stuff.
In Marathi, you have a certain budget that can be recovered. There are artists who like to experiment, they are okay doing films which won’t have a commercial bent to it, that’s the reason I made it in Marathi.
That doesn’t mean that Lapachhapi is an art film. It is a commercial product. The audience will get their entertainment, but I didn’t pay attention to the commercial aspect. The idea was to make a classic horror film.
I have worked in television for 13 years. I made promos for television channels. When the right time came, I decided to make a horror film as it was a genre that really attracted me. I wanted to do something with this genre because most of the films aren’t very good.
I like the classic horror films made by Del Toro and directors from his brand of cinema. We have great horror directors in Hollywood too, but in India, we are lacking in that department. So, I started thinking and came across two good ideas that could be made into a film. I started developing them and that took some time. They were based on Indian facts. I tried to inculcate Indian stories, that are purely based in India and not get inspired by whatever goes on in Hollywood.
We have great horror directors in Hollywood too, but in India, we are lacking in that department. So, I started thinking and came across two good ideas that could be made into a film. I started developing them and it took some time to develop them. They were based on Indian facts. I tried to inculcate Indian stories, that are purely based in India and not get inspired by whatever goes on in Hollywood.
What is Lapachhapi all about?
Lapachhapi is based in a small house in a sugarcane field. A couple plans to stay there for a while because they are escaping from goons. The wife’s pregnancy forces her to wait till the child is delivered. She then has to figure out what happened in the house to save her baby.
How did the casting for Lapachhapi happen?
Nobody wanted to work with a new director. Some didn’t want to play a pregnant woman. Others didn’t want to work in the horror genre. wanted to work but didn’t have dates. I then came across Pooja Sawant. I didn’t see her work before. I had only seen her in one trailer. I thought she had potential. I approached her and she agreed. That’s how the lead actress casting happened.
The second lead is Usha Naik. She has done around 300 films. Her earlier film ‘Ek Hazaara Chi Note’ was critically acclaimed. When she heard her part, she was adamant that she’ll play that role. She was more confident than us.
How was it working with the cast of Lapachhapi?
All of them gelled well. All of them wanted to make the film work. They took some time to understand their character, but I had no problems with anybody. We shot the film in fifteen days, that was because of the cast and crew gelled so well. We had a strong post production schedule, but the fact that we could complete all this in so much time is because of the support of the cast and crew.
We see most of the scenes in Lapachhapi are shot during the day, that’s different from other horror films. Was that a conscious effort?
Lapachhapi is a day horror film. We have only two scenes in the night, and most of the film is set in the day. I wanted it to be in the day because the story demanded that. The film is also about a social evil. The social evil is out there – it is visible in daylight – but we still don’t do anything about it. So yeah, we did make a conscious decision.
How was the experience of foreign film festivals, especially as a horror director?
The festivals that we went to, they had never shown a horror film before. This was the first time that they were showing a horror film and that too a Marathi horror film. So, it was a good feeling that they have accepted us. A regular festival would screen a drama or a romance film. But we were lucky to be featured in festivals that weren’t just looking at the drama audience. We were lucky, for them, the perception of Bollywood was song and dance. So, when they saw that this was a horror film, they were surprised. The reaction was that this was an important film and it should reach the masses.
We didn’t see a lot of buzz around Lapachhapi, even though it won awards in the foreign festival circuit. How was that experience?
It was a conscious decision. The way Lapachhapi was structured, if the story leaked, the magic of watching the film wouldn’t be there. Therefore, we didn’t participate in the Indian film festivals. The film had to make money, the idea was for the horror genre to become profitable. So, we first went to the foreign film festivals and then released it here.
Lapachhapi seems more of a psychological horror, different from the Ramsay brand of films. Do you think the audience would accept a Ramsay horror film today?
When the Ramsays made films, the audiences were not exposed to foreign films. So, it was easy for them. At that time, even I was scared of the Ramsays films. Now, our audiences are exposed to anything that the world has to offer. The audience has matured now.
I have a couple of stories to tell in this genre. But the success of Lapachhapi will decide whether I will be able to make them or not. The people I have spoken to want to see whether this film works or not. If this doesn’t work, maybe I will have to explore other genres.