If the year started off on a spooky note with Raaz - The Mystery Continues, the first film from Ram Gopal Varma's stable this year is also an adventure thriller called Agyaat. Releasing Friday, the film is inspired by Hollywood thrillers like Predator, Anaconda and Alien.
While Varma's last was the much-talked about dud Phoonk - The Black Magic Story that dealt with evil practices in the contemporary world, Agyaat is a thriller and not a horror flick.
"People are perceiving that Agyaat is a horror film. I would like to make a point here that it's not a scary film. It's an adventure thriller," Varma had told IANS.
Shot mostly in the Sigiriya jungles of Sri Lanka and the Athirapally forests in Kerala, the film is not only inspired by Hollywood thrillers, but also by real life, eerie incidents that Varma's unit members experienced while shooting his 2000 movie Jungle in the Bandipur reserved forest in Karnataka.
Produced by Varma and Ronnie Screwvala, Agyaat tells the story of a film unit on a shoot in a dense forest where the crew members start getting killed one by one under mysterious circumstances by an invisible creature.
"Hollywood has made thousands of such films about people stuck somewhere and getting killed under unknown reasons. I thought what if this time people don't see what is killing them... the idea was to compel them to use their own imagination as a weapon, which is more lethal," the filmmaker said.
Agyaat has an ensemble cast and includes Telugu actor Nitin Reddy and Priyanka Kothari in the lead.
The actors had a quite an experience shooting for the film - Priyanka had to share room with eight lizards for a month!
"I had to live with eight creepy lizards who used to roam around in my room. I can say that I'm braver now. Earlier, I used to be petrified if I used to see even one lizard in my room... but I had so many in close proximity in the same room in the jungle," the actress said.
"A lot of things happened with me during the shooting - like my ankle injury, elbow injury, then so many scratches, insect bites, et al. It's a part and parcel of a film like this," said the 25-year-old.
Agyaat has had its share of controversies too.
The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) asked Varma to re-edit a music track Jai Shri Shambhu from the film as it may encourage substance abuse. The track shows leading lady Priyanka puffing a 'chillum' (pipe) while she sings Dum Maro, yeh hai Sahara.
Varma has snipped the scene for the small-screen audiences.
The music is a tad bit disappointing, but Varma's flair for good camera angles and impressive background scores might help Agyaat live up to the spine-chilling expectations of the audiences.