Can you recall playing a game where things go horribly wrong? How about Hide & Seek? Some dozen friends hiding in the dark and one person looking out for them. And at nine in the night, it does get scary, isn’t it? But what if you’re playing the same game in the night in a locked shopping mall on some highway where there’s no place to escape and the killer is on the loose? February 5 will decide who wins the game Hide & Seek. At the moment, the debutante director is busy playing it. Playing it in the studio in Andheri, he is running up and down doing his last minute sound mixing for the film. Launched by director- producer Apoorva Lakhia as one of the most promising new comers, Shawn Arranha has worked as the chief first assistant director for Lakhia on all his films, worked a bit with Farhan Akhtar on Lakshya and Ketan Mehta on The Rising – Mangal Pandey. One couldn’t have asked for a better beginning in Bollywood. UK’s Harrow Observer columnist and Bollywood Hungama’s London correspondent gets into a complex mood with the director to find out who the killer is, after all, I don’t want to miss my chance on driving the Honda City which may just take me back home in time. Over to Shawn Arranha!
What should people know about Shawn Arranha?
People should know that I’ve worked with Apoorva Lakhia as the chief first assistant director on all his films except for Mumbai Se Aaya Mera Dost. I’m venturing into direction not to change the history of cinema but to be accepted. I’ve made a simple thriller suspense film so that everyone can enjoy and get entertained.
Hide & Seek isn’t like I Know What You Did Last Summer. It isn’t an action film.
Who came up with the idea of Hide & Seek?
It was Apoorva’s idea. He wanted someone to carry out the instructions in the script and the film in a certain way. He thought that I was the best person to be launched because I’ve been working with him since a long time. He gave me the script, I liked it and there you go. Hide & Seek isn’t like I Know What You Did Last Summer. It isn’t an action film.
So are you an independent director or will continue to work for Apoorva Lakhia?
See, I am signed by Apoorva and this is my first film. I am a freelance director but because he has signed me first up, I am working with him on this film.
Are you one of those filmmakers who will keep on haunting the audiences?
(Laughs) No, not at all. I want to be versatile in the way I make films. I don’t want to be stuck to only thriller and suspense stories. I want to try my hands on everything. A director is one who takes the story and brings it in front of the canvas. I’ve already started writing a rom-com film. I’m seeing some scripts, doing an action flick, so a lot is happening pretty quickly. I’ve kept a bank ready.
Is Hide & Seek a perfect film to launch you as a director?
Firstly, it isn’t easy getting your first film. I’m very fortunate and thanks to Moser Baer and Apoorva Lakhia for giving me this opportunity. This isn’t my film, its Apoorva Lakhia’s film. I’ve put my hand into this and given my best shot. This was a challenge for me to do. You can’t ask for a better launch than Hide & Seek as the film doesn’t give you breathing space.
How difficult was it to find a perfect mall to shoot your film?
(Laughs) That’s a good one. We actually went scouting to a lot of places, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Delhi and Bangalore. The only reason we liked the Ahmedabad’s Iscon Mall was because it was Apoorva’s home town. It’s easy to communicate with the mall owners and get a good deal knowing that you’re from the same city. The Iscon mall is a bit weird in a good way. When you go to the second atrium, you’re actually on the ground floor. When I saw this mall, I was confused as to how will I shoot and show the people in such a mall, as its architecture was confusing. When you see the film, you’ll understand.
You can’t ask for a better launch than Hide & Seek as the film doesn’t give you breathing space.
And what did you think of the city?
I was really shocked man! Ahmedabad is such a beautiful city. It is so high-tech. I’ve never seen so many malls in my life. That’s one city where one lane has got more than six malls in a row. Great people and great architecture is how I’d define Ahmedabad.
No big Bollywood face in a film like this. Why?
We didn’t want to take big cast in this film. We could have got them but when we read the script, we thought that it’s a unique script and we need unique actors on board who aren’t seen so much on the television. I don’t want to sell my film as a big, multi-star cast A- listers. No! I want people to come and see the story and not the actors. Each actor in my film has one hit under their belt. Purab has Rock On, Arjan has Fashion, Sameer has Jannat, Mrinalini has Awarapan, Ayaz has Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na and Amruta Patki is making her debut.
Wow! She is gorgeous, isn’t she?
Yes. We wanted to launch someone new in Hide & Seek. We had various auditions. Out of all of them, the most promising new comer was Amruta Patki because she was the one who gave an effort and has put her heart and soul into a film like this.
You aren’t going to scare the audiences inside the mall that they don’t visit again, I’m sure.
(Laughs) No, not at all because the week after is the release of My Name Is Khan. My film and my audience will be the ones who love to watch thrillers and suspense dramas. I wouldn’t say it’s a gore film. But I should tell you one thing – I do get nausea when I enter any mall in the night as it takes me back to those days and it feels like it’s coming back to me because we shot for fifteen days in a row in the mall.
Apoorva is a fantastic technician. I’ve never seen a person more organised
Tell me something about Apoorva Lakhia.
He is a fantastic technician. I’ve never seen a person more organised. I’ve learnt everything from him. I’ve never seen filmmaking the way he has shown me. I’ve grasped his organising skills and that’ll take me far. We shot the film in twenty seven days. All this happens because we share the same mental space and we think alike. Apoorva is a superb teacher. He is my backbone. If you want a Mercedes, it’s there for you and the shot is ready. This is because he himself is a director and understands a director’s vision.
Sum up Hide & Seek in one word
We also hear that one lucky winner who guesses the killer is going to be presented with a brand new Honda City?
Yes, we are planning to have a contest like that where one lucky winner will get a Honda City. Such occasions come very, very rare in Bollywood. And we’re so sure that it’s going to be a tough one for the audiences to guess who the killer in Hide & Seek is.