By Subhash K. Jha, Bollywood Hungama News Network
Move over Bhoot and Phoonk. Ram Gopal Varma's Agyaat is here. Ramu's next film entitled Agyaat would be something he has never a done before. A film about an invisible predator creating havoc among a group of people in an isolated spot.
An old Hollywood formula. "But never done properly in Hindi cinema. Something like the Poseidon Adventure or The Towering Inferno. These were about natural calamities striking a group of people. Mine would've a far less identifiable enemy, attacking a film crew on an exotic island," informs Ramu, as he divulges that his media film Rann has been shifted to January 2009.
The film written by two Varma discoveries Punet Varma and Hari will be shot by a debutant cinematographer Surjo. It will be shot in Sri Lanka from next month. "The media film Rann, I'm starting at the end of January 2009. Agyaat, I'll shoot in the Sigria jungles of Sri Lanka. I recently went location hunting there. It was a stunning stretch of wilderness. I've never seen anything so frightening in my life. All the principal photography will be done in Sigria in 35 days. Then the special effects will be done in Mumbai. My Phoonk had very hastily done special-effects. Agyaat will be a first of its kind in terms of effects. In fact, Agyaat is being made primarily for the special effects."
Says Ramu, "It's about a film crew that loses its way in the jungles. And something out there starts killing them one by one. Why a film crew? Because it's like a walking office. There's a narcissistic star, a subservient spotboy, cameraman, a frustrated action director, an assistant director who has a crush on the heroine, a self obsessed actor, a producer who thinks the director is making a mess and a director who thinks he's the Steven Spielberg of India …All of them have their own mindscape in the given hierarchy. But the moment they're caught in terror situation their inherent humanism comes to the surface."
Ramu wants to tailor the plot like a reality show. "When you see Bigg Boss, you see a group of people in an isolated place coping as best as they can. We see their rapidly-changing inter-personal relationship. In my film the same happens. I'm shooting them in real time with characters whom we can identify with, like the hero who turns out to be a sissy. Can't cast an established actor there, can I?"
Ramu is casting largely newcomers. "Because I don't want the audiences to watch these characters with pre-conceived notions.
A very basic Hollywood formula. ."I know, but not done well in our cinema too often, I've always been fascinated by Hollywood's 'Aliens', 'Blair Witch Project' formula where a group of people are trapped in a situation and besieged by an enemy that they cannot see. Someone is killing them one by one. And they're trying to get away. I don't know what that genre is called. But it's not a Friday the 13th where a psychopath is on the prowl. It's more like Blair Witch Project where the killer is not visible to the eye. In The Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers, I remember one line. 'Why do we always expect alien creatures to invade a spaceship? Why can't it be a biological invasion?' I want to explore this terror of the unknown."
Ramu is supremely kicked by his new project. "The challenging part in Agyaat is to create an evil force that's not visible, definable or even comprehensible. There's some strange phenomenon in the jungle. I read an interview of Ridley Scott where talking about Aliens he said, 'There's no need to understand what's happening during a time of terror. Because if you explain it you reduce the thrill of it.' Hence, Agyaat, the unknown."
Agyaat will have some of the best special effects seen in Indian cinema. "It will be a projection of a destructive force from which the victims can't hide or run. They simply succumb to it."
Ramu is as excited as ever. "I haven't done anything like Agyaat. I'm a great fan of this Hollywood genre. And I can't wait. The moment I call my film Agyaat (The Unknown) I can go into a hundred different dimensions of the unknown."