Rishika Sharma: I want to put forth a Kannada film which will be the talk of the globe
Although the debutant director never believed in paranormal activity, now, after shooting her horror film, Trunk she says she’s changed her stand
The granddaughter of well-known director and actor, GV Iyer, Rishika Sharma might have been born with a silver spoon but has not received everything on a silver platter. Definitely not her film career. The debutante director, whose film, Trunk, releases this week, is experimenting with a horror film as her first. Ahead of the release, Rishika, in conversation with Cinema Express, talks about her film, touted to be based on a true incident, her attempt at horror, and the kicks she gets from having taken up a horror film.
Rishika before turning director
Rishika’s introduction to filmmaking was with Adarsh H Eshwarappa’s independent film, BE Mech, for which she donned the hat of an assistant director. She then starred in teleserials to widen her knowledge base and to get a first-hand idea of the nuances of acting. She did three daily soaps where she played the second lead - Charanadasi, Saraswathi, and Bharathi. After this, she switched to the big screen with Vascodigama, where she played one of the main characters, and followed it up with a film titled Psycho Shankara. She made a cameo appearance in Kiragorina Gayaligalu, directed by Sumana Kittur. Again, in Naduve Antaraviralli, a film with Aishani Shetty, she will be making a special appearance.
“When I was working as an associate for a Tulu film, Shutterdulai with director Shashikanth, producer Rajesh Bhat spotted me. He offered to produce my first independent feature film, Trunk,” says Rishika, who started researching from 2015, got into pre-production in 2016, started shooting in 2017, and is ready to release it in 2018.
Fear is a ‘feel-good’ factor
While Rishika admits that horror is one of her favourite genres, a few incidents that she herself experienced is what pushed her to work on a horror script. “There’s a feel-good factor to horror. I picked up this subject at a time when Hollywood films like Mummy, Annabelle and The Conjuring 2 were being released. I was researching a social issue when Nihal (who plays a role in Trunk) told me about an incident which figures in my film. I visited the village to get deeper into the story. My intention is to put forth a Kannada film which will not just be the talk of the town, but the globe,” she says.
Family dynamics at play in Trunk
The film has two plots running in parallel. While one story is about a 90s true-life incident where a family experienced paranormal activities because of a small trunk, the other is about ghost-hunters. “I was inspired by ghost-hunters. When I started looking them up, I came across a troupe called Trap in Bengaluru, who are specialists in paranormal activities. I went on an investigation with their team to get a first-hand idea of their workings. That’s when I also thought it might be a good idea to rope them into the film. Instead of experienced actors, I felt that the ghost-hunters themselves would be able to give a realistic touch to the film,” says Rishika.
Actors Nihal and Vaishali Deepak, meanwhile, bring forth the family drama. “In fact, while writing the story I had Nihal in mind,” she says about the newcomer, who has worked with Prajwal Devaraj in Tharun Sudhir’s Chowka. On the other hand, when Rishika saw Vaishali in Amaravathi and Bharjari, she felt that the actor would suit the role. The film also has Aruna Balraj and Sundarshree as part of the cast.
Paranormal activity witnessed during the shoot?
“Since we were not allowed to shoot in the location where the incident took place, we had to modernise the story slightly, and set it in Bengaluru. At the shoot location, we captured two footages of paranormal activities on the CCTV we had installed. I was personally warned not to take up a horror film. Although I never believed in ghosts and paranormal activity, now, after watching the grabs first hand, I’ve come to believe in it. Our cameras used to stop suddenly. In fact, we had to change two cameras because one of them stopped functioning completely. Lights stopped working. And to top it all, a couple of people on the sets were possessed by ghosts. We have heard about all this, but the experience was really terrifying. The ghost-hunters, who use scientifically-proven equipment were able to sense minute bits through their sound transmitters. Shooting the climax was terrifying, but we didn’t give up,” she says.
‘First Indian horror film to use sync sound’
Dinesh Kumar’s use of sync sound for the horror film is said to be a first-of-its-kind attempt in India. A student of AR Rahman, Albin Dominic has done the background score The film’s cinematography is by Bajrang Konatham and Sandeep Aluri. Trunk has ‘one complete song and four bits’, the music for which is composed by Beat Gurus comprising of Kartik, Ganeshan and Pradeep. The film’s dialogue is written by Sukesh Shetty, while the editing has been done by Hemanth Kumar.