We talk to the stars of Go Goa Gone, dubbed as Bollywood's first ever zombie comedy.
Go Goa Gone revives spooks with a spoof
"I kill dead people," says Boris, the pseudo-Russian zombie-slayer in Bollywood's latest comedy. The catchphrase is awfully reminiscent of "I see dead people" from the 1999 Hollywood film The Sixth Sense. Kunal Khemu, one of the lead actors and co-writers of Go Goa Gone, confirms that he did indeed borrow the line from fellow Indian M Night Shyamalan.
"I did it very intentionally," says Khemu. "It was meant to be a tribute in a slightly cheeky way."
Khemu was in Dubai on Thursday, the day Go Goa Gone was released in theatres across the UAE, along with his co-stars Puja Gupta and Saif Ali Khan (who is also a producer of the film, alongside Dinesh Vijan and Sunil Lulla), for promotional activities organised by Essar Events.
The events included a press conference at Grand Hyatt and an appearance at Ibn Battuta Mall, where fans got a chance to interact with the stars.
Zomcom, short for zombie comedy, is how the film's creators are labelling the movie, which follows a couple of friends on a trip to Goa, where excessive partying leads to more than just a hangover.
The boys, along with Boris (Ali Khan) and Luna (played by the Bollywood newbie Gupta), battle zombies.
Boris is the leader of this zombie-slaying crew. With a head of orange hair and one too many tacky tattoos, the look is perhaps the most distinctive since the one Ali Khan sported in the song White White Face inthe 2008 film Tashan.
He sighs as he recalls some of the trials of pulling the look together. "Initially I didn't want to wear a wig, so my hairdresser decided to bleach my hair. It went orange instead of yellow. Bits of it started to fall out, so we didn't bleach it again and just shot it like that. When we finished shooting, I had it dyed back to the original colour.
"We then realised that we needed me back with the bleached hair for some promotional stuff. That's where I drew the line," says the actor, running a hand through his lustrous mane.
"There was no way I was putting my hair through that again. I just wore a wig."
As co-producer of the film, Ali Khan has been hands-on for the first full-blown zombie film to come out of Bollywood.
"The mainstream audience is more familiar with chudayls and dayns [scary creatures typical to South Asian lore] and not so much with zombies. So we had the two-fold challenge," explains Ali Khan. "Firstly, we had to ease the audience into the concept of zombies. Secondly, we had to do it without dumbing down the zombies for those people who already knew what they were. Another point I stressed on the whole team was that if we are going to do this, we are going to do this right."
Experts were sourced from as far away as Australia and Spain for advice in areas including special effects, make-up and cinematography, particular for the horror sequences.
"Not only did that give us the best of the best working to make our zombies look perfect, but it also meant that our own local talent got the chance to see international experts work and learn from them. Next time around, we can just use them," says Ali Khan.
Talk of a sequel was already under way even before the film came out.
"We don't particularly have to have zombies in the sequel," says Ali Khan. "I'm even thinking of a spy film. Something along the lines of 'the world's worst spies' or something."
When asked to name his favourite zombie flick, Ali Khan admits that he's not a huge fan of zombies in particular. He struggles to name a favourite, but co-stars Gupta and Khemu jump in.
"My favourite is 28 Days Later," says Gupta. "Such a good film."
"Mine is Dawn of the Dead," says Khemu. "And Shaun of the Dead - it's probably got more in common with Go Goa Gone than any of the other zombie movies out there - with the comedy angle and all."
• Go Goa Gone is out in theatres across the UAE
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