Filmmaker Vishal Furia is on cloud nine as his film Chhorii, which marks his entry in Bollywood, has turned out to be a great success of Amazon Prime Video.
Starring Nushrratt Bharuccha in the lead role, Chhorii is the official remake of his successful Marathi horror film Lapachhapi (2019).
In a freewheeling conversation with Eastern Eye, Furia talks about the kind of response he has been receiving for the film, the idea behind remaking Lapachhapi in Hindi, giving a wide berth to the popular Bollywood tropes, and much more.
The filmmaker also opens up about how Bharuccha came onboard to headline the film. Excerpts…
Chhorii has turned out to be an instant success on Amazon Prime Video. What kind of response have you been getting for the film?
The response has been overwhelming and I am feeling really great. My main objective behind remaking Lapachhapi (2017) in Hindi was to take the film to a wider set of the audience along with its message. And I am happy to see that people are not only enjoying the film but they are also able to understand the beautiful messages that it carries. Frankly speaking, Chhorii has shot two birds with one stone. It has delivered horror as well as a pertinent message both at the same time. I have been receiving messages from across the board ever since the film’s release. That means we have successfully achieved what we set out to do.
When did you decide to remake Lapachhapi in Hindi?
Lapachhapi turned out to be a huge success in Marathi upon its release in 2017. It received terrific response from the audience, especially the female audience. It was then we thought that we should take this film to the pan-India audience. I was very clear in my mind that I wanted to make Chhorii with the same honesty and sincerity as I made Lapachhapi. I was very sure that I did not want to add unnecessary songs, romance, and other regular Bollywood tropes while remaking it.
Was it challenging?
Yes, that challenge was very much there because Bollywood is known for making horror films in a certain way. I was lucky that I happened to meet Vikram Malhotra and Shikhaa Sharma from Abundantia Entertainment who had seen the film around the same time. Their vision for the horror genre and its growth, in the long run, were very clear. I felt we had a very similar thought process. After a few discussions, my trust in them grew and I thought they were the right people to remake Lapachhapi in Hindi.
Why did you opt for a direct-to-digital release for Chhorii?
When we started making Chhorii, we did not think that if we were making it for theatres or streaming platforms. We just set out to make a good film with a good message. The second wave had set in by the time we started post-production. There was no clarity on the reopening of cinemas. There were several questions in our heads like if the audience would go back to cinemas or not and in case they did, would they feel safe, etc. It was then Vikram suggested that why do not we opt for an OTT release, giving our audience the chance to watch the film from the comfort of their homes? I also felt that he was right. I wanted the audience to get scared by the horror elements in my film not the coronavirus.
Additionally, I got to know that Amazon Prime wanted to release the film globally across 240 territories. Had we opted for a theatrical release, we could have released the film in India and a few more countries. But Amazon Prime took the film to 240 territories. It was a huge incentive. What else could we have asked for?
How did Nushrratt Bharuccha come about being the lead of the film?
I had met Nushrratt around 3-4 years ago for a different film. Unfortunately, that project did not materialise. But when we were discussing that project, one thing that was quite evident was that she wanted to prove herself in the industry. She was getting offered the same kind of roles; she wanted to break away from that. I, on the other hand, also wanted to prove that so many different stories could be told using horror as the main theme. So, we both had that hunger to prove ourselves.
When we began casting for Chhorii, Vikram Malhotra also suggested her name because he had already worked with her. I had already envisioned her in that role. So, I told Vikram that I also wanted her in the film. Then we talked to Nushrratt who readily accepted the offer. She worked really hard on this character, something that everyone can see now.
Chhorii is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.