How Vicky Kaushal encountered his own fears in'Bhoot

Vicky Kaushal, encounters, fears, Bhoot

The National Award-winning actor's first horror film is releasing in the UAE this weekend.

By Michael Gomes

Published: Wed 19 Feb 2020, 10:00 PM

Last updated: Thu 20 Feb 2020, 12:24 PM

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 a niche for himself 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 award 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 has motivated me to push my boundaries as an actor. Moreover, It has also made my family and friends very happy and proud of me,"  Kaushal told 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, which marks his first foray into the horror genre. "It was a learning experience for me," Kaushal 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 own cues and react, and at the same time, you have to 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 off the coast of Juhu. It became a major talking point in the city and (director) Bhanu had experienced that episode. It was from there that the germ of this story was formed, 'what if there was a paranormal existence on board?' The only element 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 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 experiences."
Talking further about horror films, the actor says that Ram Gopal Varma's Raat is one of his favourite Bollywood horror flicks. "I was a kid when I watched the movie and I recollect how scared I was after watching the movie. Conjuring and Paranormal Activity are among my favourites in Hollywood."
Kaushal recently opened up about his phobias in a video. Recollecting his first day of underwater shooting for Bhoot, he said (in the clip), "I was panicking, I was scared and I couldn't deliver." When probed over his fears, he said. "I'm very scared of snakes, but my biggest fear is water. However, one good thing that happened to me while filming Bhoot was getting a grip on my phobia of water. I had to do a lot of underwater filming in the movie and this kind of helped me overcome 80 per cent of my phobia of water. What's left now is only 20 per cent (which he also intends to overcome)."
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. Talking about his direction, 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 Pednedekar 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 on set. 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. We bonded well and between takes, we used to chat a lot."
Kaushal is  starring next in Karan Johar's period drama Takht, and he's all fired up for the film. "We are starting filming in March and I just can't wait for the process to start." 

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