‘Indian cinema has been escapist experience for masses’

Bollywood’s song and dance sequence has been a way for the masses to escape from the daily grind, feels Ashley Rodrigues, who is helming a Virtual Reality (VR) short film with Eddie Avil.

The two have picked the horror genre for their first VR short, “Crackle”, which is set to release in July.

If one looks at feature films, romance and drama always topple the horror genre. Why isn’t the genre as popular as the others in India’

“Indian cinema has been an escapist experience for the masses. A majority of the middle class has to go through the daily struggles and deal with stress everyday. So, Bollywood with its song and dance sequence somehow… has been a way to escape from the daily grind,” Mumbai-based Rodrigues told IANS in an interview.

Avil, who has worked with band Pralay as a lyricist and composer, feels the Hindi film industry has been obsessed with romance, comedy and action, and so, those genres have evolved more than horror in India.

“But the younger lot of filmmakers and actors are exploring different subjects and genres, and I am sure horror as a genre would gain more popularity soon.”

Most films take a cue from Asian horror films. What was their inspiration’

“The inspiration was our experience. We grew up playing with stuff like the Ouija board,” said Rodrigues and added “But this is fiction.”

They might not be the first in the horror genre of feature films, but they are selling “Crackle” as India’s first VR short horror film. How did the thought come to them’

“We have been producing audio content for advertisements for a long time so, one of our clients asked us if we could shoot some VR stuff and that’s when we accidentally found out about VR. VR is a revolutionary technology. It’s the only format where the audience can be actually right there in the movie.

“It’s an immersive format, so we all agreed that horror as a genre would work really well with VR,” said Avil.

Talking about challenges faced by them while shooting the film with a “controlled budget”, Rodrigues said: “This was shot in Bhatte Wadi in Virar (Maharashtra) in an abandoned house. We had loads of challenges. Since it was a 360 camera, we could not use external lights. Plus, the camera does not capture well in low light.

“This being a horror film, many sequences had to be shot at night. We have tried a few tricks.”

It’s not just tech-savvy youngsters that they are targeting. They are hoping to get a wide audience, including those in their 70s.

So, can VR films replace feature or web movies’

“We are all heading towards more immersive content. In VR, the viewer is in the scene and is part of the action along with the cast. In the near future, we think we will be gamifying cinema where you could choose the outcome of the experience,” said Rodrigues.

(Natalia Ningthoujam can be contacted at natalia.n@ians.in)

By Natalia Ningthoujam


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