By Ahana Bhattacharya
Mumbai, Oct 24 (IANS) Everyone knows Ari Aster as a Hollywood filmmaker who specialises in horror films such as “Hereditary”. Few are aware of the fact that the young American filmmaker is a diehard fan of the late Oscar-winning Indian legend Satyajit Ray. He says Ray’s films inspired him to visit India.
“I am enjoying it here. I have never been to India before. I grew up obsessed with the movies of Satyajit Ray. He is one of my heroes and after watching his films, I wanted to come to India,” Aster told IANS, on the sidelines of the ongoing Jio MAMI 21st Mumbai Film Festival with Star.
Aster’s new folk-horror film “Midsommar” was screened at the Jio MAMI festival this year in the After Dark section.
“I was very excited to be invited (to the Jio MAMI festival). It’s an amazing place and the people are great. I was made to feel very welcome,” he shared.
Talking about India, he said: “I love Indian food. I also love the Indian audiences. They engage so intensely with films.”
Aster looks impressed by the response “Midsommar” received at the festival.
“I need to interact with more people who saw the film to have a full picture of how it played here. But people have been very enthusiastic and they engage at a very deep level. They have come to me with very smart and thoughtful questions. Here, there is a commitment to engaging with cinema which you don’t find everywhere,” he shared.
The filmmaker then spoke about “Midsommar”, which he penned while going through a break-up in personal life. He said” ” ‘Midsommar’ is a horror comedy. It’s a dark comedy. I don’t see it as a horror film actually. It’s more of a fairytale.”
Aster explains why he loves the horror genre: “If you want to tell a dark story, you can go very deep in the horror genre without alienating people. Other genres don’t give as much license to do that. I love all genres but horror was an appropriate genre for the story I wanted to tell with ‘Hereditary’. With ‘Midsommar’, the film has some horror elements that just felt appropriate while telling a story.”
He added: “Horror is difficult. But if you are excited by the genre, it becomes fun. It is neither easy nor hard.”
In the course of our chat, he also spoke about horror-comedy, a genre which has somewhat gained popularity in Bollywood only in recent years. The genre is quite common in Hollywood, Aster notes. “Horror comedy is all over the place. It has been around for a while. ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ is a horror-comedy. There are a lot of filmmakers who seem to be following the footsteps of filmmakers like Sam Raimi. I even find ‘The Shining’ to be quite funny. Horror and comedy kind of go hand in hand anyway. Both genres deal with catharsis in the same way. In comedy, every set-up needs a punchline. In horror, the question is how much tension you build before you reveal something. They may appear to be contrasting but actually they are similar in that they deal with expectation in similar ways,” said the filmmaker, who is currently busy re-working on scripts he had written in the past. The director informs he might just choose one of them and announce a movie soon.