Zoya Sent a 5-Page Back Story For My ‘Ghost Stories’ Role: Janhvi 

‘Ghost Stories’ streams on Netflix on 1 January.

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Ahead of its release, The Quint caught up with director Zoya Akhtar and the cast - Janhvi Kapoor and Vijay Varma - of their short-film, which is part of Netflix’s horror anthology, Ghost Stories. While Janhvi and Vijay shared their thoughts on the horror genre and their respective roles, Zoya revealed how she manages to make great casting choices for her films.

Since I’ve seen the trailer, and it’s called Ghost Stories, so how much do you enjoy the genre of horror. Are you fans of it?

Zoya Akhtar: I totally enjoy it, but I can’t watch everything in it. Like The Ring I had to put off, I couldn’t watch it. It was too scary. But there are others like Rosemary’s Baby, The Shining, Sixth Sense. Those kind of films I love. So yeah there are certain films you absolutely love, and certain films get too much and then I can’t watch it.

Vijay Varma: I’m a big sucker for the horror genre, even though I’m a very scared viewer. Like I try to cut down on the sound, I cut down on the visuals as much as I can when I know that a scare is going to come in. But I really like the adrenaline rush that I feel when I watch a horror film.

Janhvi Kapoor: Yeah I love it, I think it’s such a high impact genre. And even all of the films that she mentioned are so different from each other. There’s so much you can do with it, and as an audience there is so much immediate investment if it’s a good film. Even if it’s like say, not a stupid one, but one of those that is those jump scare horror films, it’s like being on a roller coaster so I enjoy it.

For the two of you, Vijay and Janhvi, are these starkly different from characters you’ve played before?

Vijay Varma: This one, yeah, it is a new attempt for me to understand a very different person. I don’t think I have played anything like that before and it was really cleverly conceived. She has something to say with this character, and she has put it across very nicely when you see it.

Janhvi Kapoor: Yeah she’s definitely very different from anything that I have been doing. But there was so much clarity in Zoya’s thought and vision for the character. I remember she sent me a five page back story for my character. So there was a lot of clarity and that helped me so much and it excited me more than anything else to have such a clear vision for someone that I am playing.

Zoya, how do you cast these parts, what do you think of when you’re looking for people?

Zoya Akhtar: I think for me there is a certain thing that goes with age, like physicality and all. Those things. unless they are radically different, can be worked on. What is most important for me is that the core, the core quality that you are looking for in the character, you can see in the actor. I think that is the most important for me and you can see the actor pull that, and those core things are part of their personality and can be enhanced. That is what is important to me.

Video Editor: Puneet Bhatia

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