'The horror genre can only get better'
He is one of the very few in Bollywood who have switched from acting to writing. Best remembered for his role in Lagaan, Amin Hajee kickstarted his writing career with Swades, for which he co-wrote the screenplay. Later, he went back to acting in several films and dabbled in documentary-making before heading back to horror films. Amin has penned Haunted, Dangerous Ishhq and the recent 1920: Evil Returns. We caught up with him to know more
Who influenced you to become a writer?
I keep telling my friends that I was born in Lagaan because that’s where I got to work with Aamir Khan. He told me that I could be the creative head of a production company. He was prophetic when he said that as that’s what I am today! After he saw my work, he also said that as an actor, I will limit myself, but as a writer, I’ll do lot more.
What is the biggest difference between being a writer and an actor?
You can get away with a lot as an actor but as a writer. You can’t fool anyone. Writing is something you have to know — you create a concept, crisis, catharsis from scratch. If you can’t do it, you can’t do it.
So, have you given up on acting?
I love acting a lot but I feel there aren’t many writers who are writing new characters. A film begins and ends with the leading stars. The supporting cast is hardly recognised and their characters remain overlooked even if they perform better than the stars.
Are things any different for actors in a horror film?
Yes. In a supernatural flick, the onscreen intensity allows a meatier presence even to the Ramu Kaka of the film. That’s how it is. In most cases, the ghost is the real hero and the ‘good guys’ are just vying for audience’s empathy.
Do you think the horror genre has improved?
I’d say it could only get better because this particular genre suffered a lot due to lack of imagination. The same old formulae of bhoot bungla and haveli kept repeating themselves and nobody complained. Today, writers like me and directors like Vikram Bhatt and RGV are coming up with novel camerawork. We face the challenge of acceptance because people are excited to watch something new but aren’t willing to give up on the old themes.
Are writers, in general, underrated in Bollywood?
(Pauses) I think nobody other than the director and the leading actors are given much recognition. So expecting things to be any different for a writer would be preposterous. One can’t deny that the public throngs to theatres after noticing the good-looking faces on the promotional posters.
How much responsibility does a writer take when a film bombs?
All of it. Dangerous Ishq was a debacle and when I think about it, I feel like a failure. Some said that marketing wasn’t up-to-the-mark and not many would want to come watch Karisma (Kapoor) but since I wrote the story, I cannot deny the responsibility that comes with its failure.
Well, 1920: Evil Returns did well at the box-office for a small-budget...
I won’t deny the responsibility that comes with success either (laughs).
What are you up to nowadays?
I’m writing six films as of now and thoroughly loving the process. The primal challenge for me is to avoid conflicts between the several stories I’m working on simultaneously.