Bhargav Saikia is a young man who loves old school films and stories. That’s what made him pick his second project – The Black Cat by Ruskin Bond. We got in touch with Bhargav to speak about his experience working with Tom Alter, interacting with Ruskin Bond.
How did your film making journey begin?
I was studying film making at Whistling Woods. I dropped out a couple of months to make Kaafiron Ki Namaaz. I made my first short film, a horror themed film called The Awakening. It released in 2015.
Since then, I am always looking for stories that are unique and not easy to make. I wanted to match international standards in fantasy film making. These genres are untapped in India. Even in fantasy, we are only covering the mythological elements.
What made you choose Ruskin Bond’s The Black Cat?
I have been a fan of Ruskin Bond since my school days. I liked The Black Cat because it is a simple story. I have tried to adapt it with my film making sensibilities. What really attracted me to The Black Cat is the OTT characters that are still likeable. Apart from Ruskin Bond, the other character, Miss Bellows, seems eccentric but she’s strange in a good way. It has a very old world charm, that’s what I absolutely love.
I love Tim Burton and I am follow his cinema. I like Steven Spielberg. I like to make films with fantasy aspects but are based in real life. I was wondering what to do next. I remembered Ruskin Bond’s ‘The Black Cat’, which I had read in school. It was part of my English syllabus.
Tell us about the process of making this short film?
It took me a couple of months to get in touch with Ruskin Bond. One of my family friends introduced me to him. I met him, and he initially gave me time for 30 minutes but the meeting went on for around 3 hours.
What’s your take on the screenplay of The Black Cat?
The situation in this film is extremely bizarre. But then, I don’t think about whether the audience will accept the film or not. For me, as a film maker, it is important to make a film that I believe in.
My film is an adaptation. I tried to stay completely true to the original story. I knew that the film will get accepted if I make it with honesty. It’s not only getting acceptance in India but also from foreign countries.
How did Tom Alter come into the picture?
Once I wrote the screenplay, I always had this idea that Tom Alter would be a great option to play the character. Mr. Bond and Mr. Alter were good friends and the locals of Mussorie. I knew Tom would understand the character of Mr. Bond and the milieu of the story.
How was your interaction with Tom?
Tom Alter didn’t keep a mobile phone with him. I could only connect to him via e-mail. I sent him an e-mail and I immediately got a reply that he’d be very happy to play his friend Mr. Ruskin Bond on screen. Working with him was much more than a director actor relationship. He gave me a lot of inputs and worked towards making the short film much better than it was initially.
The film is available on YouTube for free. Why didn’t you opt for a Netflix or an Amazon Prime deal?
I am not thinking about the monetary aspect of it right now. Right now, I am planning to make Lorien Productions a brand in India and abroad. I want it to be an enduring brand for fantasy films and sci-fi in India. This film is an investment. I am thinking ahead of instead of just how to make money from my films.
How was your experience shooting for the film?
We shot the film for five days in Uttarakhand and then for one day in Mumbai. We had a cat, so we had to know what to perform and we couldn’t ask the actors to shoot for too long. The shooting was hectic, but it was all good in the end.
What’s your next project?
I like horror and fantasy. That doesn’t mean I like only the gore and horror. It can be a sports film with fantasy and horror elements in it. I have just completed the script for a feature film. I am already in talks with some actors to star in it. It is too early to comment as to who, but that’s my next project.
Bhargav Saikia’s The Black Cat is now available on for free on YouTube. You can read our review about the film at this link. Watch the film here: