'Chhorii' director to WION: We've made frivolous attempts at horror in past but things are changing

Written By: Zeba Khan WION Web Team
New Delhi Published: Dec 01, 2021, 04:46 PM(IST)

Poster of Chhorii and director Vishal Furia. Photograph:( Twitter )

Story highlights

WION got talking to director Vishal Furia who is immensely proud of his film ‘Chhorii’ as he talks about his passion to change the horror films scenario in India and give us our own ‘The Exorcist’ and ‘The Shining’ one day. 

Horror and comedy are possibly the most difficult to ‘execute and perfect’ genres of cinema. From getting the chills and scares to reach the audience to making them laugh their guts out, it takes a crisp and no-nonsense storytelling style to get the desired effect. 

One such recent Indian film ‘Chhorii’ by director Vishal Furia has managed to do just that -- get it right. With the film receiving an overwhelmingly positive response in the country because of its originality and treatment, Vishal is happy that the audience is appreciating the honesty in his work. The film is a Hindi remake of his Marathi film ‘Lapachhapi’ that he wrote and directed much like this version. 

WION got talking to Vishal Furia who is immensely proud of his film ‘Chhorii’ as he talks about his passion to change the horror films scenario in India and give us our own ‘The Exorcist’ and ‘The Shining’ one day. 

Here are the excerpts from the exclusive conversation with Vishal Furia:

WION: Your Marathi film ‘Lapachhapi’ was a big success, what was your initial thought behind remaking it for the Hindi-speaking audience? What were the changes you made in ‘Chhorii’ before releasing it for a pan-India audience?

Vishal Furia: It is a very exciting story which I have told before and this is a new version of that for the pan India audience. Since it is my first offering in Hindi, I was a bit nervous. The original film was well received so there was an added sense of responsibility to make this work. 

I did make a few changes to the story to make this version appeal to a pan India audience. I wanted it to feel and look like a fresh film but I also wanted it to remain true to the soul of the original film. I gave Chhorii a new setup to make it work for the new audience. These changes have to be made when you want something to appeal to a vast audience like that of the country.

WION: By way of your filmmaking and projects that you are currently a part of, you seem passionate towards the genre. How do you explain your love for the horror/thriller genre?

Vishal Furia: In this country, we haven't really tapped the potential of this genre to tell nicer stories. There is a vast expanse of stories which have not been tapped because this genre has not opened up in its true sense. We have only been stuck in a formulaic way of making horror films but slowly attempts are being made to tell these kinds of horror stories. Chhorii is one such attempt. I am trying to show my take on horror and I hope it works. If the audience likes it, I hope filmmakers like myself and others can have freedom and liberty to approach producers with their ideas and the producers will also open up as they will feel a certain love towards the genre. That's the idea.

There is a vast expanse of stories which have not been tapped because this genre has not opened up in its true sense. We have only been stuck in a formulaic way of making horror films but slowly attempts are being made to tell these kinds of horror stories.
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WION: Horror is often seen as one of the weakest genres in the country with filmmakers failing to create a spooky/chilly impact in the way of their storytelling. What’s your take on that?

Vishal Furia: We have become a bit lazy in this genre. We have stuck to a certain formulaic way of using this genre. We feel that the easy way to make this genre is to put some songs, sex and the audience will come and watch. In my opinion, that’s not the way to tell horror stories. First of all, the writing has to be much more powerful as writing a horror film is not easy plus you need to have characters that people will relate to. Thirdly, you need performances that support that kind of direction and writing. Performance is key to a horror film. If the actor is not able to replicate his or her fear effectively then the audience will never feel the scare. Then there is technique since it’s a very technical genre. Every aspect of filming, designing, writing has to be correct for the atmosphere to be right, scary enough, for fear to seep in. Every aspect has to be meticulously dealt with honesty and sincerity to make the horror film work. Somewhere we have lacked in that.

We have made frivolous attempts at horror but I think slowly things will change because audience does accept newer forms of horror. I mean my original film really worked with the audience which is why we made a Hindi version. So the audience recognises and is ready to watch different kinds of horror. It's just us makers who have failed to deliver a horror film. 

Every aspect of filming, designing, writing has to be correct for the atmosphere to be right, scary enough, for fear to seep in. Every aspect has to be meticulously dealt with honesty and sincerity to make the horror film work. Somewhere we have lacked in that.
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Read our review of the film here

WION: How do you want to make a difference to give the audience what they really want to see in a good horror film? How are your films different? 

Vishal Furia: I just want to tell stories in the truest form possible, to stay honest and sincere in my story. Relatability is the most important factor in my stories because if I am not relating to my characters and feel like those characters could be me or they could be someone I know, then I won't feel scared. It should not feel like alien characters. They should feel like they are among us. The situations shown in the movie should feel like they could happen to me at some point of time. That’s what I do with my films. I try to keep them grounded in reality. 

The situations shown in the movie should feel like they could happen to me at some point of time. That’s what I do with my films. I try to keep them grounded in reality. 
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WION: With your efforts and those of other filmmakers who are keen to change the face of horror films in India, do you think there will be a time that India can produce a film like ‘The Exorcist’ or have its own ‘Insidious’ chapters?

Vishal Furia: Yes, why not. I see a very bright future for the genre in India. I have seen success with Lapachhapi, it was 11 weeks in the theatre, was well received in many Indian and global festivals. As for English films and Hollywood films that deal with horror, the Indian audience enjoys them because they deal in horror and not the other frivolous elements. And that is the way to go forward. Keep it true to the genre. I do see a great hope there. I don't see it very far when we make films like these in India. 

WION: Since you’ve tasted success in the Hindi cinema industry, will we see you making Marathi films any longer or will you focus more on Hindi projects?

Vishal Furia: I will keep working in all kinds of mediums, in languages I know, cultures I can relate to since there are multiple stories that can be told. Some need bigger mediums as business wise they make more sense but some stories need smaller space and then there are culture specific stories. Like a film that has Marathi culture traditions as an important part of the story, then to stay honest to the culture, it's better we tell that story in the native language. So I am not alienating myself from the Marathi industry and I would like to tell all kinds of stories.

WION: As a director who talks passionately about changing the way horror films are made in India, which are your favourite horror films and directors you are inspired from?

Vishal Furia: My all-time favourite ‘The Shining’. It’s a Hollywood classic and one of the most effective films in the horror genre. Among directors, there are many who inspire me like James Wan who’s made a career out of horror films, Guillermo del Toro who has done amazing work in the genre, Jordan Peele. These are some names that have taken the genre forward by inventing new stories and their work only inspires me to do good work here. 

'Chhorii' is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video. 

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