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Phoonk scarier than Bhoot

india Updated: Feb 23, 2010 17:27 IST

The first look of

Phoonk 2

was unveiled last evening and the crow in Part 1 has been replaced by a doll in Part 2 that proves that “cute can be sinister too”. That’s not the only difference.

The film’s producer, Ramgopal Varma, points out that while


tapped the “emotional” fear of a helpless father, eventually overridden by his concern for his targetted child, the fear in the sequel is plain scary and closer to



Given that he had directed


, you wonder if he played the role of a co-director on the sets of

Phoonk 2

. He refutes the suggestion, insisting that the film was Milind Gadagkar baby.

“When Milind, the writer of


, came up with this script, I was impressed with the originality of the concept and convinced that only he should direct it,” says Varma, about the film that has black magic woman Madhu returning from the dead to brutally murder the tantrik who killed her in the earlier film. The film will be released in Hindi as


, in Tamil as


and in Telugu as


(The Possession)


Just last Friday, a horror film, Click opened in the theatres to a lukewarm response. Other films in the genre are to follow in quick succession. Varma is unfazed by the competition. “Eventually it is not the genre but the film that has to work,” he points out. “Fear is a natural human instinct, but a film like


is technically more difficult to direct than a drama or a comedy because it relies largely on the language of cinema rather than on performances.”

Conspiracy theories

Known for his innovative promotional campaigns, Varma has a scare contest lined up on the lines of the


dare that promised a cash prize of Rs 5 lakh to anyone who could watch the film in the theatre alone.

“The first challenger didn’t even last 30 minutes. Yet, post-release conspiracy theories insisted that the contest had been rigged,” grouses Varma. So this time he has come up with a first-of-its kind scientifically designed contest.

“The challenger will be seated in a chair fitted with an ECG machine. While he is watching the film, we will be monitoring his heartbeat and pulse rate that will be shown live on a screen outside the theatre. If at any point he’s frightened, the monitor will register a spike or jump. If anyone can control his heartbeat during the screening, he’ll go home with the booty,” promises Varma.

The contest will be launched on March 10 on the film’s official website,

, and is open to people across the country who have no history of any cardiac disease and are between 18 and 60.

Based on a computerised random draw, shortlisted contestants will have to provide a medical indemnification for further selection by the team that will include a doctor. The normal heartbeat of the final challengers will be recorded before and during the show.

He will not be able to shut his eyes and will be shot live through a night vision camera to ensure he doesn’t bend the rules. His facial expressions and ECG graph will be on show for anyone in the theatre. “For any unforeseen situations, an ambulance will be on standby,” says Varma, as he signs off.