An Exclusive Chat with Rajneesh Duggal

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Rituparna Sengupta Basu

Rajneesh Duggal started his Bollywood debut with the movie 1920 in 2008 and since then he has become a widely known face for all horror movie buffs. He has made a successful transition from the world of modelling to the mainstream Hindi movies. Recently, he has teamed up with Rajiv S. Ruia and Ravinder Jeet Dariya for the film ‘Mushkil’ which is releasing today, 9th of August, in theatres all over India. Expresso caught with the charming actor to find out more about his film.

Expresso: You acted in 1920, then Saansein and now Mushkil. How this is different from the other two?

Rajneesh: My character in 1920 was that of a victim whose wife has become possessed by evil forces. I became extremely cautious with horror movie genres after the success of that film. In Mushkil I essay the role of a pundit from Varanasi who knows all kinds of tantric spells and hypnotism. He also becomes the saviour of the four friends in the movie. What intrigued me most about this character is its ability to talk to the souls scientifically and control them.

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Expresso: Nowadays we are witnessing similar kinds of stories in the horror movie. How do you assess the story in this movie?

Rajneesh: If you delve into the history of Bollywood cinema you will find there were many successful horror movies, the recent being Stree, which was more of a horror-comedy. We are telling a different story through this movie and we are exploring the romantic horror genre. Audiences might think this is some kind of psycho-thriller but it is much different in terms of treatment and theme. Our director did a very commendable job with the treatment of the movie and I can say it matches to Hollywood standards. We have spent 4-5 months in improving the VFX part which takes the movie to another level. The story starts in the same pattern as in other horror movies but the quality is way different than the rest.

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Expresso: In 1920 you memorized the entire Hanuman Chalisa. In this film would we see something similar?

Rajneesh: In 1920 we have used the Hanuman Chalisa so we couldn’t use it for the second time in this movie. So, we have used Lord Shivji’s mantra, Narashima Bhagavan, more so because it is based in Varanasi and there’s a strong connection with the Kashi Viswanath temple.

Expresso: To what extent you believe in paranormal activities?

Rajneesh: Earlier I was not a believer of evil spirits but I became one when I encountered something paranormal. I was a witness of that incident and it still sends cold shivers down my spine. In 2015 we were shooting a movie called ‘Direct Ishq’ in Varanasi and while filming in Assi Ghat with Arjun Bijlani I saw a girl hairdresser doing some abnormal things. When she woke up the next day in the morning she had dark circles around her eyes and swelling on her body. Everybody thought that it was some kind of allergic reaction but she was not back to normalcy even after 2-3 days.

That’s when she was taken to the doctor who failed to diagnose her conditions. Next, she was taken to a tantric but they failed too in alleviating her condition. Then one of the locals advised us to take her to the Aghori Ghat which was close to our shooting spot. She took Ganges dip three times and I watched her from a distance. After she came out of the water something came out from her inside and vanished into thin air. I couldn’t see it but the feeling was strong enough to unnerve me. It was from that time onwards that I started believing in the presence of negative energies around us.

Expresso: Did you feel any pressure while doing this movie?

Rajneesh: No, none at all as it is a director’s medium. On a much more serious note, I can vouch that it is a romantic horror movie and much different from the others in its category. Our team has worked extremely hard in making this movie a success.

Expresso: Why do the audiences go for this film more than once?

Rajneesh: Our entire crew including the director, production house as well as the actors has worked very passionately to make this film a success. The animation and VFX of this movie can be compared to Hollywood and is of high standards. Moreover, the is quite good and it will be liked by the audience. It’s a different genre of horror movie which the cine-goers will surely love.

Expresso: Tell us something about the Big Bat Films. Do you intend to work with them in the future also?

Rajneesh: It is a very good production house and has envisioned original and quality movies under the command of Ravinder Jeet Dariya, a Delhi based business. They have their offices in Greece too and yes, if they do offer me something relevant in the future I will work towards it.

Expresso: According to you what is the most difficult scene in this movie?

Rajneesh: According to me the climax has been the most difficult scene to shoot. There is also a couple of other scenes which were tough but nothing can match the intensity of the climax.

Expresso: Do you take any guidance or help while doing this movie?

Rajneesh: First of all I don’t watch horror movies and so there is no question of getting any guidance. Director Rajiv S Ruia was the key person who handled the movie very delicately and guided us throughout the process.


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