ZEE5’s much awaited original series Bhram, with Kalki Koechlin, drops on 24th October 2019. It is based on the book ‘The Other Side Of Her’ written by K Hari Kumar who also adapted his own novel into the web series. We had a chat with him to find out how was his experience of working on Bhram. He also tells up what inspired him to write horror fiction and become one of the foremost Indian authors in that genre.
Watch the trailer for his new web-series Bhram here.
Int: So Bhram is based on the novel ‘The Other Side Of Her‘. What inspired you to write this story?
KHK: A lot of things inspired me to write this story. I had a friend of mine who was going through something similar. I mean, not the same things, but she was going through PTSD and the way she came out of it made me think of this topic. I was having a conversation with Sangeeth Sivan (Director) and he was also thinking about something similar. Then we started cooking up the screenplay and then to a book and now it’s become a web series.
Int: So did you plan to make this a movie or web series while writing it?
KHK: Not really. But we like to binge on horror, both Sangeeth Sir and I. This was just a story we thought of and eventually it ended up becoming a book.
Int: So when you adapted the book into a web series did you change anything?
KHK: A lot.. I changed a lot. Like the base is the same, it is about a woman who has lost her husband and unborn child in a terrible accident. She’s had a lot of mental trauma and suffers from PTSD. But now she has got a new challenge and her battles are the same.
But in a web series you have scope to explore even more characters. Like in a novel a character might appear for one chapter. But in a web series that character can have his own subplot. The character arcs can be well detailed in web series, whereas a book or a movie might make you focus only on the protagonist. That’s the biggest difference between the web series and the book according to me.
Int: You have worked with Sangeeth Sivan before. So what is your working equation like? How much do you enjoy his company?
KHK: Sangeeth Sir is an institution by himself. You don’t have to go to film school. If you work with him, he will teach you everything. He’s got so much experience, I mean, he’s directed over 20-25 films and while growing up we used to watch his movies.
He started off in Malyalam industry and 3 of the biggest cult films in Malyalam industry have been directed by him. Working with him is not a pleasure, it’s a privilege. I learnt a lot from him about visual languages and all which helped me as a writer a lot.
Int: So did you go on sets? What was it like for you?
KHK: Yes, I was on set for the entire two and a half month shoot in Shimla. On sets we had actors like Kalki who have so much experience that they add to the character. Once they get into a character they give their own inputs which we might miss as a writer or even a director. So even on the day of the shoot we were changing few things here and there in the script.
Int: So, you are considered as one of the biggest horror fiction writers in India.
KHK: (laughs) Yeah. Touch-wood
Int: So what attracted you to this genre?
KHK: I was brought up in Delhi but my hometown is in Kerala. So every summer vacation we would go to Kerala. I would wait for my grandmother to tell me stories about some yakshi or chudail or something. Those folk tales were an inspiration honestly. Then there were the usual like Edgar Allen Poe and Roald Dahl and Charles Dickens which I read as a kid. These kind of grew on me and I ended up being a horror story writer.
Int: Do you personally believe in ghosts or had any paranormal experience?
KHK: See, I won’t deny the existence of ghosts. I’ve had experiences but there’s always some kind of rational explanation to it too. I mean it could always be something as simple as your mind playing tricks on you. I always leave things open-ended for the audience to decide if there’s a ghost or not.
Int: What would be your top 5 favourite books to read? In any genre.
KHK: In any genre… I would say The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling), Pet Sematary by Stephen King, Da Vinci’s Code by Dan Brown. Khaled Hosseini’s Kite Runner and of course Sherlock Holmes’ short stories. These all are my favourites to read. And then of course I like my own books but that would not be wrong to talk about them.
Int: I read somewhere that every work of yours has a Gurgaon connection. What’s the Gurgaon connection in Bhram?
KHK: In Gurgaon (Gurugram) well, Kalki and Bhumika both play the roles of sisters who are brought up in Gurgaon. Where one of them moves to Mumbai and one moves to Shimla. But yeah, everything for me has a Gurgaon connection because I was brought up there myself.
Int: So this is a joke question, but it might be true. Did growing up in Gurgaon draw you more towards horror?
KHK: (chuckles) Well I wouldn’t say it drew me towards horror. But I was introduced to it early on with the Monkey Man. It was one of the biggest urban legends and we were kids back then. But yeah the situation in Gurgaon is quite unsafe at night and someone really needs to do something about it. I learnt there that sometimes you need to be more afraid of people than ghosts.
We think this means you can expect scares from the people as well as the ghosts on Bhran. Watch the webseries Bhram, releasing soon on ZEE5 to find out.