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Jatugriha, releasing on Tuesday, promises to be a thrilling watch

We have experimented with the social horror genre, with metaphors of our past haunting our present. The story is very rooted: Director Saptaswa Basu

Arindam Chatterjee Published 24.10.22, 05:20 AM
(From left) Parambrata, Bonny and Paayel in Jatugriha, which releases on October 25

(From left) Parambrata, Bonny and Paayel in Jatugriha, which releases on October 25 File picture

The story of Saptaswa Basu’s film Jatugriha, which releases on October 25, revolves around Rehan, who gets a job as a hotel manager in Nishadganj set in a remote village in the mountains. Rehan finds Meghna there, a desolate local girl who cares for homeless kids. As they strike up a friendship, a mysterious force tries to take them apart and Joseph, the priest, tries to help Rehan decode the mystery behind this. “The story and script have been developed by Arnab and Robi who have done a thoroughly interesting work and have presented a plot that breaks conventional tropes,” says Saptaswa. The Telegraph has a chat.

Why release the film on a Tuesday?


Breaking the conventional timings is fun and challenging altogether. We decided to release it right at the crux of Diwali, and surprisingly not only us, there are quite a number of films releasing on that day. Both Hindi and Bengali films have targeted that date and all want to utilise the festival period to have good opening numbers.

How does it feel to have the film releasing on a Tuesday?

Just before a release, the anxiety goes to a whole new level. Whether it’s Friday or Tuesday, the anticipation of seeing my own content on the big screen hits on another level. I generally do Hanumanji’s puja on Tuesdays, so I feel it’s an auspicious day for me. Yes, I do believe in God or an omnipotent presence, just like I believe in the supernatural realm. Therefore I think this will be something new to try, a Tuesday release. We will be able to have fresh data on the outcome of such a release, which will be a handy experiment business-wise.

What can the audience take away from the film?

The audience will experience a fresh treatment of horror and drama in Jatugriha. There is a scarcity of horror in Bengali films and this one will be a chilling experience surely. The locations, the ambiguity of the characters and the theme that our past actually haunts us and those demons are hard to get rid of, these things will be relatable to the audience and they will get a power-packed story with good doses of horror and entertainment. In other words, we want to light up all screens this Diwali.

Ballabhpurer Roopkotha, a horror comedy, is releasing on the same day. What are your thoughts on that?

Diwali and Kali Puja are a great time to explore horror content. We have experimented with the social horror genre with multiple layerings of human psychology and vices, with metaphors of our past haunting our present. Therefore I am not at all worried when it comes to the content of our film. I am sure that the two films have completely different flavours and both can have good viewership. Our story is very rooted, it is designed with allegory of sociological themes, therefore it’s very different from a horror comedy narrative.

Saptaswa Basu

Saptaswa Basu

How is Jatugriha different from other horror films in terms of treatment?

We have tried to match international standards in terms of horror but obviously due to budget constraints of a regional film (Bengali) we needed to invent a bag of tricks to create a modern treatment of horror. I firmly believe that hair-raising horror events are happening all around us everyday, in our socio-economic fabric, for example, the devastating effects of the pandemic are much more horrific than a spirit lurking in shadows. We have designed our treatment accordingly and producer Raktim Chatterjee has extended his support fully.

Conventional horror films use various tropes like sound effects or jump scares. A director like Michael Haneke lets the audience imagine the horror. Jatugriha falls in which category and why?

I have been an admirer of works of William Friedkin, Scott Derrickson, James Wan, Michael Haneke, Jordan Peele, Frank Darabont, Mike Flanagan and a few others. Too much showing of horror elements ultimately hurts the subject and experience, I firmly believe so. We do not have a budget to create premium CG shots of demon or supernatural, that’s why we always resort to enhance the mystery factor with intelligent scenes that give a creepy feeling throughout. Certain things are shown and certain things are left for interpretation by the audience. I wanted to create a world of mystery in Nishadganj, the name of the place being derived from a reference of a part of Mahabharata and the storyline also has a thematic tribute to the same. We have tried to keep the graphics and content as much rooted and organic as possible.

How was it like working with Parambrata, Bonny and Paayel?

Working with them is always a delight, especially when we have got three big names who follow contrasting methods of performance. Parambratada is very spontaneous and natural, Bonny has a great screen presence and modulates his acting according to the tone of the script, Paayel is lovely to work with as she is co-operative and fills the screen with grace and realistic performance. They all have put in their own bits of innovation during scene designs and got quite involved in the process.

What did you get to discover about them?

I discovered each of them has their unique style for delivering a scene. Paramda always looks good in cerebral characters and we have incorporated a special aged look for him in this film. So it was a challenge for him as well and we used to see how every day he got under the skin of the character, enhanced his age and developed a different body language for the same. Bonny, on the other hand, toned down from his out-and-out commercial style and added vulnerability to his character which made him a common man trapped in an extraordinary situation. It was a refreshing change. Paayel plays a local girl, born in an elite family and she took almost no time to get into the zone and delivered naturally. The three of them, being in this craft for a long time, have undergone fine tuning and growth over the days and I got to experience it while working on this film.

How have you evolved as a director with this film?

With each film, I am learning a lot. This one being my first exploration into horror, it has been quite an evolving journey. A director is primarily a visual storyteller who can connect with the audience with themes that they immediately connect with and enjoy. Having said that, one must remember that the definition of modern horror has changed and the audience no longer connects to over-the-top demon scenes or cliched concepts. It has been quite a journey from script to post for me and I have learnt a lot from my core team, Manas Ganguly, Ananda Adhya and so on. Stunt director Judo Ramu was fun to work with. He is such an experienced person and very professional. I learnt and tried more innovative shots, long takes, wide frames for the theatrical experience and have induced a sense of serenity yet impending doom throughout the film. I must say I am ready to make another horror film after this.

How challenging was the shoot?

The shoot was really challenging. The weather was always gloomy and we shot during rainfall as well. Leeches attacked us multiple times and there was no proper stay facilities in many remote locations. Pulling off haunted sequences with stunt elements in such locales was not easy at all and the effort is visible on the big screen.

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