Adil Hussain is an accomplished actor who has acted in films like English Vinglish and Force 2. He will next be seen in ‘Dobaara: See Your Evil’ opposite Lisa Ray. Others in the cast are Huma Qureshi and Saqib Salim. Saamri.com got in touch with Adil and spoke to him about his understanding horror, his take on the recent horror films and how it feels to be part of the biggest film in India, 2.0. Here’s his IMDB profile.
How did ‘Dobaara’ happen?
I have worked with Prawaal Raman in a film called ‘Main aur Charles’. We became very good friends at that time, something that rarely happens with me. He came up with this idea, I said, I don’t do horror movies in India. The Indian horror films that I have seen, I have never felt scared, they have always made me laugh.
I had a sense that the kind of experience that was needed to make a horror film required a filmmaker who watched movies from across the globe. You have to find a way out to make a film that convinces the audience. The characters should be convincing, the scene should be convincing.
Prawal showed me the script, he told me that this was the film that we are officially commissioned to do. You read the script. If you like the script, do it. I have seen his 404. I liked the film and liked how he treated the movie. I read the script of Dobaara and liked it better than Oculus.
The characters are more fleshed out. I agreed to do the film. He then told me of the cast, there was Lisa and Huma and Saqib. All these are competent actors. So, I did it. We shot the entire film in London for a month.
How is Prawaal as a director?
He is extremely sensitive towards the credibility of the scene. He makes sure that the actors are contributing to the film with their experiences and makes it more truthful. That’s the most important aspect of a good scene. It must feel that it’s actually happening, otherwise it’s absolutely unconvincing. When we were doing the supernatural scenes, I have not experienced possession by spirits in my life, how does anyone do it? So my way of seeing a possessed person cannot be that of an actor who has done it in good or bad films.
How do we do that? So, Prawal says, why don’t we find out. Why don’t you show me you’d react. He always helps the actors contribute something to the scene. He is not a director, he is a collaborator.
We are seeing a lot of younger actors turning to horror. Why’s that happening?
Younger actors are becoming more courageous. Great actors like Anthony Hopkins have worked in horror films. Even Sigourney Weaver did Alien. Horror is an emotion in Natyashashtra. It is one of the predominant emotions. Like Shringarrasa is a rom-com. We need to think why an actor wouldn’t want to do horror. The younger actors have also been exposed to world cinema. They want to push their boundaries and I think that is a good thing. Why shouldn’t they? It is very difficult to play something that people don’t encounter in everyday life.
We see Huma Qureshi not being the typical ‘scream queen’, Do you think Indian audiences are ready for a female protagonist who doesn’t need saving in Horror films?
One doesn’t know how someone would react to a paranormal activity. So, any genre, specially horror, if the actors are good and competent – brilliant actors – if it is done well, gender doesn’t come there – the question is of competency.
I think most filmmakers have underestimated Indian audiences and disrespected their intelligence. Take English Vinglish for example.There are a lot of relaunches that didn’t work. Sridevi’s relaunch worked because she is a fantastic actor and Gauri Shinde had a fantastic script and a director. The combination worked. So, if the script is right and the film is treated right, the Indian audience will have no issues with a female protagonist in horror films.
You have worked with Gauri Shinde in a drama, with Prawaal Raman in a horror and with Nishikant Kamath in an action film. Do you think directors can do a good job changing their genres?
It depends on tendencies. You run a horror website. Would you be interested in running a website of sports? It depends on how your inner calling is. Ang Lee, for example, does Life of Pi, Sense and Sensibilities, Brokeback Mountain and then he does Incredible Hulk, then he did Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and he even gives Billy Lynn’s Long Half Time Walk. Some directors may be uncomfortable, saying they don’t know how to do a comedy or a horror a drama.Some directors may do all possible genres. I think Prawaal did a fantastic job of the affectionate scene between Lisa Ray and me. It is a very beautifully done scene. I am eager to see how the audience responds.
What is your most memorable aspect of Dobaara?
What I love about Dobaara is that we focused on the human drama. It’s an emotional film. It’s an horror film, but it has an emotional quotient to it. You will be moved by the end of it. It is a mother-daughter film. Misunderstood mother, misunderstood father.
The Ramsays are planning to come back. What would be your advice to them?
Anybody who wants to come back must reinvent themselves. They should cater to the finer sensibilities of the audience. When they did horror, we didn’t have access to the internet. If people wanted to see foreign films in those days, you’d need to be the member of a cine club, which not many people were privileged to have. I am sure, they will come back with more awareness. I find Tarantino very gaudy, with his bloody eyes and all that. He was too gaudy even in Inglourious Basterds. It is very over the top, like Kill Bill. But he does it, he pulls it off.Even Kurosawa did things OTT. I don’t think going overboard is the problem. It all depends on how good you are and how convincing you can make.
Spiderman is a melodrama, I mean, who can fly? There’s Harry Potter, there’s The Hulk. Anyone can go overboard, but they need to make the audience believe in it – who is a much more mature one today.
If the Ramsays are sensitive enough and have enough education about the audience’s sensibilities, I am sure they will reinvent and revive whatever they have done before. There have been so many films that have been able to capture the audience’s mind.
What’s the one thing that Indian horror cinema is lacking, according to you?
I have this one point to make. A couple of years back, I read a script and I was blown by the script. I was surprised that nobody picked up the script. It was based on the practices of the Aghoras. Aghorees are daredevil mystics. I am yet to come across someone who’d dare to make an Indian horror film. We have so many stories that are based on Indian mystic aspects. They would be horrifying. I don’t know why nobody’s exploring that.
I am yet to see a director/writer who’d investigate the Indian practices of horror, like tantra and aghora. That’d be extremely intriguging for the Indian as well as foreign market. We are so educated in the Western system, we have lost touch with these amazing practices. All we think are the ‘bhoot pret’ and we don’t handle it well.
You are also part of 2.0. What do you think of India’s sci-fi fantasy scene?
In sci-fi, you are trying to create something that doesn’t exist. Horror is different. The Hollys have set the standard high. So, the market is bigger, the competencies are extremely high. They don’t compromise on things. So, I guess, the knowhow of the technique is difficult.
Now, some directors got the support system, resources and the courage to make such films in India. 2.0 falls in that category. It comes after the super-success of Robot. Rajnikanth is the biggest star in India. So, that film will fuse together his star power and the VFX and the techniques that we have – it is going to be big.