Netflix original Betaal makers: Shah Rukh Khan was attentive, charming
Creators of Shah Rukh Khan-backed Netflix original Betaal recall first interaction with the superstar.
Patrick Graham follows his horror series Ghoul with another scarefest, Shah Rukh Khan-backed Betaal. The director says he's incentivised to explore the genre given that few in Indian cinema are willing to do so. "I hope to dabble in other genres as well, but there is a gap in the market when it comes to dealing with scarefests. [Horror films are] either in-your-face [scary], or attached with an element of comedy. I like to play with the psychological aspect," he says of the zombie horror thriller, co-directed by Marathi filmmaker Nikhil Mahajan, whom the makers appointed given his "passion for the genre".
Viineet Kumar and Aahana Kumra's Netflix offering, the second digital project to be backed by Khan following 2019's Bard of Blood, is set in a village that becomes a battleground when a two-century-old East India Company colonel and his battalion of blood-thirsty zombies are released from their tomb.
Nikhil Mahajan on the sets of Betaal; Patrick Graham
England-based Graham says he is often asked about his interactions with Khan. "I come from a small village in England and people often ask me if I have met him. I am not usually star-struck, but, was nervous to interact with the legend. [Before our first meeting], I laid on my office floor and practiced breathing exercises. Along with Nikhil and co-writer Suhani Kanwar, we gave him a narration for three hours. He was charming, humble and attentive, and did not once break eye-contact."
For SRK fan-boy Mahajan, meeting Khan was a dream-come-true. "He had a lot of inputs, and we had endless cups of coffee during our first meeting."
When Mahajan had first met Graham, the former was planning a Hindi film that never took off. With Betaal, he makes his foray into the industry.
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