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"I looked at erotica as a French filmmaker would"

The Hate Story poster and trailer are all over YouTube and drawing a lot of attention due to the film’s bold content. The movie, dubbed an ‘erotic film’, has been written by Vikram Bhatt and directed by Vivek Agnihotri, who has earlier directed Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal and Chocolate. Here’s what the director has to say about the movie.

How did you land up with Hate Story since the film was to be directed by Vikram Bhatt?

Vikram had written this very bold and gripping script. One day, I got a call from him and he asked me to look at the script. The first thing I asked him was, ‘Why me?’ as he is an accomplished director himself. He felt the film had become very bold and we needed to raise the bar. So he wanted a stylish, gutsy and mature director. I thought about it for some time because erotica is a tricky and delicate genre, and I had also just finished shooting Buddha In A Traffic Jam. So I didn’t say ‘yes’ instantly. I asked myself why I was scared of making such a film? I decided to look at erotica the way a French director would approach it. I was very clear that I was not interested in making a titillating movie.

What exactly did you do for this film?

I did the casting. This was the most challenging aspect because it’s an erotic film. We had to find actors who could be uninhibited so that we could make the film the way it should be made. The actors would also have to be able to stand naked and deliver a performance where the body was secondary. I was lucky to find that in the super-talented Paoli Dam and Gulshan Devaiah.

How did you zero in on Pauli Dam?

First, I want to mention that Pauli is not a newcomer. She has won a National Award for her performance. She is an established Bengali actress. I wanted someone who had everything in her: someone who was beautiful; who had a great figure; and bold yet talented. I saw all that in Paoli. When I approached her, I asked her if she would face the camera naked. She said ‘yes’ without blinking. When you shoot a sex scene, you usually get the crew out of the sets. But in this case, we shot all the sex scenes with the crew present as we would any other scene.

What’s your connection with Bong girls? Bipasha Basu in Goal, Tanushree Dutta in Chocolate, and now Paoli Dam in Hate Story?

I think they are very attractive. Bengali girls are a reflection of Kaali. Maybe that’s what attracts me to them.

The Censor Board doesn’t allow smoking scenes but your film has bold content. Do you think the censors will clear the film?

It took a lot of courage to make this film, and it’s something that has never been made in India before. So I am not scared of the censors although, for the promo itself, they have asked us to bleep a couple of words when Paoli says, ‘Main iss shehar ki sabse badi ***** banna chahti hoon’. To date, they haven’t asked us to delete any scenes. But if they do, I will fight as I don’t want to disrupt the flow of the film. It’s an erotic film with a bold concept. This film is not for kids.

After Hate Story, what’s next in the pipeline?

My film Buddha In A Traffic Jam is a very personal and intimate film. The film talks about terrorism. There are two kinds of terrorists – those who wield the gun and those who brainwash others. It’s a subject that’s has never been raised in India before. Then I have Freedom with Madhavan. The script is still a work in progress.

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