Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK, the writers and co-producers of horror-comedy 'Stree', had an exclusive chat with Deccan Chronicle. The filmmaker duo talked about their association with ‘Stree’ helmer Amar Kaushik, the star cast Rajkummar and Shraddha and the ridiculous phenomenon the film is based on. Excerpts:
What attracted you to 'Stree'?
(smiles) Nice. Well, Stree is based on a phenomenon that was happening in the small town of Andhra Pradesh. While roaming around, we heard some outrageous things like 'don’t go there, there’s a woman that abducts men'. There was this urban legend, a phenomenon going around which was scary and ridiculous at the same time and surprisingly it did not have any back story. We tried to find back story but nobody knows about it. So we started out creating our own back story, our own crazy story, an obesrvist comedy around this phenomenon
Can you tell us more about the 'true phenomenon' that this film is based on?
We were roaming around a town of Tirupati where we met locals who spoke of a female spirit who was ‘abducting’ men during the night. The locals protected themselves by writing “Stree re pura” (Telugu phrase, meaning stree, come tomorrow) on the walls of their homes. We saw people practicing the same belief in other parts of the country as well. Nobody answered why it was written and who started it but they were all afraid of this ghost called ‘stree’ which used to go around on preying on …some people said men, some people said babies. But we decided men was a better angle, so we decided to create a satirical layer in the story where we said ‘no man is safe’.
You guys have proved your mettle in wacky comedies with Happy Ending, Goa Goa Gone, and Gentleman...How did director Amar Kaushik come on board?
Amar was our first AD on Goa Goa Gone (2013). We share similar sensibilities when it comes to comedies. After making his award-winning short film 'Aaba', he wanted break into feature films and he jumped right on the opportunity when we narrated this story to him.
He captures this common, small town people very well and that is one of his strengths. We thought that’s going to be a perfect match as we bring our wacky sense of humour to this story and screenplay and he use his strengths to make it all work well together.
Were director Amar Kaushik and actors Shraddha Kapoor-Rajkummar Rao your first choice for Stree?
Yes, actually all of them were our first choices - Amar, Shraddha and Rajkummar. Right from the early stage of the film, we knew Rajkummar will ace this role. Even before anything was formed, the screenplay or the director coming on board, we approached Raj with the story and he loved it. He effortlessly brings that much needed humour so he was a perfect choice just like all other people who subsequently joined this film.
"Mard Ko Dard Hoga" - the tag line is unconventional but catchy. What is that you wanted audience make out of this tag line before watching the film.
Like I said, it is a satire...It’s a satire about a term where no man is safe and if a man wants to go out they tell him to take a girl along. Or just be fully covered with clothes to your head because Stree when she takes you she leaves your clothes behind. So, with that tagline we wanted to add that satire element in the film which I think comes across beautifully. And also give us that edge we wanted for a horror comedy to have that little extra layer to the story.
How difficult is to blend in comedy with horror?
I think we did bit of that in Goa Goa Gone as well in that zombie-comedy space. You see horror inherently is funny…even if its not. A lot of supernatural stuff that you see on screen they just doesn’t exist but we see people are sh*t scared and running around and coming up with ideas to fight it - so the whole ambience is so funny. In Stree, we just had to underline that little more for comedy to come across. Of course we were very careful to not making it spoof-y as there’s a thin line between people being genuinely scared and still it is funny where as it just a spoof of a horror. There's difference between spoof a horror film and a horror comedy and we were very cautious on that front.
Horror comedy is a rare genre in Bollywood. What aspects of the movie you are counting on to impress the movie goers?
The uniqueness of the story! We haven’t seen a proper horror-comedy because like you said it’s a rare genre. It’s an unusual mix of two different genres where you have these crazy laughs and very scary sequences and that small town milieu, the small town innocence and with super-strong actors where everybody has contributed greatly from Rajkummar, Shahrddha, Pankaj Tripathi…also, Aparshakti Khurana and Abhishek Banerjee are going to be revelations in the film. Our director Amar Kaushik has crafted this story beautifully. Music by Sachin-Jigar is phenomenal. We have every possible thing to make this an interesting watch for the audience.
What future projects you have lined up after Stree?
We are co-producing our next film Dinesh Vijan after Stree. And we are planning to have a sequel to Goa Goa Gone.
Stree will make way to the theatres on August 31....