How the dead ship in ‘Bhoot’ came alive on screen

Mumbai: Vicky Kaushal’s “Bhoot Part One: The Haunted Ship” brings horror back on the Bollywood screen, and the overall production design of the film aimed at delivering a sense of unease and fear.

“The most challenging and exciting aspect of ‘Bhoot’ was the ship. So getting the ship to look and feel authentic was The key,” production head Aditya Kanwar told IANS.

“We spent a lot of time on research, referencing and scouting real ships to get the right vibe. Anybody who hasn’t worked or been on a cargo ship does not know what it’s like to experience the enormous size and the claustrophobia. I wanted everyone who saw this film to actually feel like they are present and trapped there,” he added.

The production head for the film elaborated: “We were very careful in how we designed the interiors of the cargo ship. Keeping it as real as possible while being shooting friendly as well. The overall production design for ‘Bhoot’ had to deliver a sense of unease and fear throughout the film. So as the designer, I had to even start looking at a regular space, for example a home or an office, from that perspective. One way to do that is by creating a colour palette which would set the mood for the scene you are shooting. Even though the scene didn’t necessarily have a scare, but the underlying feeling of fear had to always be present.”

The outcome, he said was satisfactory. “Eventually, the best feeling is when your director, actor and the crew walk into the set and love it. I remember Vicky saying ‘Bhai kya set banaya hai!’ The director Bhanu Pratap Singh couldn’t believe the size of the entire thing!”

In the horror film, Vicky plays a bereaved shipping officer. The film also features Bhumi Pednekar in a special role.

The story revolves around an abandoned ship named Sea Bird that lies abandoned along the coast. The film is directed by Bhanu Pratap Singh and produced by Dharma Productions.

Talking about the production process of “Bhoot Part One: The Haunted Ship”, Kanwar said: “The process for this film was different from the get-go. It wasn’t something I have done before. Authentic horror is a genre every production designer would dream of working on.”

“Firstly, the vision for the film has to be absolutely clear for all the departments. If I am designing a part of the ship I need to know how will the sound and lighting play a role in creating the fear — simple things like maybe by adding a steady drip of water from the ceiling. Similarly, we had to figure out how to bring light into the interiors of a dead ship but not too much of light! Keeping all of these factors in mind the process was very satisfying creatively.”

Kanwar continued: “Usually as a designer I understand what the characters are like, what their back stories are, what are their influences in life to be able to create the world they live in. On ‘Bhoot’, apart from doing this, we also had to look at the larger picture of how to generate fear in the audience by showing an ordinary corridor or an empty room. The approach has to be different because one of the main characters in the film is actually the cargo ship. We spent a considerable amount of time on cargo ships to experience what it feels like. If you ever get the chance to witness a dead ship from the inside, it’s quite an experience. It’s actually very scary. It’s pitch black inside as there is no power and no working lights and the sounds are very creepy!”

Kanwar points out the importance of looking for real locations while working on a film.

He said: “I actually prefer to shoot on real locations. Real locations bring a flavour and character that sets sometimes cannot bring to the screen. However, the balance of knowing what needs to be a set as opposed to a real location is at times a very thin line. For a film like ‘Bhoot’, the homes and offices we used were all real locations. When it comes to something like the ship it was a balance of both set build and the real ship. To show the grand scale of the ship we did actually go and shoot on an actual cargo ship for the exteriors. Some parts of the interiors were also shot on the real ship. This was very difficult though.”

“The interiors are so cramped there is barely any space for the camera let alone the actors also, getting the crew on and off the ship itself was a task and a logistical nightmare.”

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