Meet Bollywood's wannabe Hitchcock
Sushen Bhatnagar is ready with Soch, a psycho-thriller
"Every single action is determined by your thoughts. Your thoughts rule the roost," says debutant director Sushen Bhatnagar.
Bhatnagar is working on Soch. The story is about film star Raj Matthew (Sanjay Kapoor), who loves his wife Mahulika (Aditi Govitrikar). But she is acutely suspicious of him. She loves Raj, but is powerless to control the insecurity of losing him to another woman.
Then, there is choreographer-turned-director Preity Sardesai (Raveena Tandon), who has always been labelled the other woman. But though she is in love with Raj, she keeps her distance.
Enter Om (Arbaaz Khan), a mad man. His arrival heralds a negative turn of events that lead to Mahulika's murder. Also on the scene is an enigmatic cop (Danny Denzongpa). The question though is, who killed Mahulika?
The story, needless to mention, is full of twists and turns. Bhatnagar confesses he has always been an avid Alfred Hitchcock fan --- "be it his books or films. Mind you, I have not lifted the Hitchcockian plot, but the germ [of the story of Soch] arose from his work.
So who is the killer? "Are you joking?" Bhatnagar says, with a laugh. "There's no way I am going to tell you who did it. But let me tell you that I show the killer committing the murder before the interval. You will still sit through the second half --- not at the edge of your seat, but further into it, thinking, 'Why? Why did he/ she commit this ghastly crime? The film deals with human psychology. That is why we are calling it a psycho-thriller, not a whodunit," he says with a wry smile.
How did Bhatnagar become a director? "Since childhood, I been fed a steady diet of films. I wrote plays at school and college, even acted in those. I would watch at least one film a day. As time passed, I also began finding it difficult to relate to foreign films. I decided I need to be part of Hindi cinema and help it grow."
He chose to do that with his script for Soch. He says, "I think the highlight of my film is its unusual script. When I met producer Dr Rizvan, partner of he ZeeKay Films, at a party, I had a ready script to present to him. I am amused and disturbed to see that several films today start rolling before the script is complete. Clearly, filmmakers have forgotten that the script is the take-off point of filmmaking."
Why did he zero in on Sanjay Kapoor and Arbaaz Khan --- not exactly sought after names today? "Why not?" Bhatnagar asks. "I knew what I was doing. Sanjay and Arbaaz have tailormade roles. Even Raveena, for that matter. She has that boisterous attitude, flair and vibrance about her, which I wanted in Priety. As for Mahulika, I wanted a girl who you should recognise, but cannot put a name to. And if you are talking about known names, haven't big banners films with topnotch stars bitten dust recently?"
Thrillers, by their nature, are usually devoid of music, relying on an effective background score to enhance the mood of the film. Soch has a full-fledged music score composed by Jatin-Lalit. The objective, Bhatnagar explains, was "Hindi cinema. And Hindi cinema without songs is not a viable proposition."
How viable will this film prove at the box-office, though? Says trade analyst Amod Mehra, Entertainment Business Network, "I have not seen the film. It all depends on how well it is made. Besides, our public in recent times has become very unpredictable. When I saw Vikram Bhatt's Raaz, I never thought it will do so well at the box-office."
Meanwhile, Bhatnagar is busy. He says, "I have two scripts: one is a thriller, the other, on music. I am keen to start the second one first. Lucky Ali should play the central role. I have finalised the producers for both, but cannot divulge their names right now."
Be that as it may, another mystery unfolds July 26, when Soch releases.