Manka Kaur is the star of Cutting Coffee Films horror web series, ‘Presage’. She stars in the first episode, ‘The Mirror’, a unique story with horror elements that takes its inspiration from age old Indian superstitions.
Manka portrays a young woman who’s just shifted in a new house and has tolerated a superstition that her land-lady has about mirrors in the house. Manka’s performance is quite good and captures the audience’s attention and intrigues them. This is one of the first times that she’d opted for an horror short film. She has earlier acted in romantic series films like ‘Vigna Bartha’
We got in touch with her for a chat.
How did this film happen for you?
The producer got in touch with me. Dharmendra Singh told me that they were doing something different, in the horror genre. I generally like watching scary films. I was told that they want to do everyday horror, something that was like paranormal and subtle.
You have acted in rom-com web films earlier, how different was it to work in a horror short film?
In the other films I had to have a relationship with the other characters. But in this film, its only me in a room and talking to someone over the Internet. So, there’s a lot of imagination involved. It was all situational, so that was interesting.
In the other films, the story is about a relationship or an event, but here, it is all about getting spooked out. So, it was a different experience because of that.
You are the only actor in the film – the other one is seen for under a minute. How difficult was it to emote in this film?
I didn’t find that difficult, because the context was horror and I can relate to that. It happens in real life also, when you are alone, you get scared. So, for me, staying alone in a room and getting scared because of imagination going wild is quite normal.
And how was it shooting for the film?
The film was a overnight shoot. It was a long shoot, but it was nice working on the film. The director had clarity about what he wanted, and I was tuned with the crew. They wanted something that was normal, subtle, something that wasn’t overdone. I liked that and they liked it too. They wanted this to be done in a natural manner.
The film is based on superstitions. Do you believe in superstitions personally?
I am not someone who believes in superstitions 100 percent, but I do not make fun of people who do follow this, maybe they had an experience that led them to believe in all these things.
One superstition that you heard a lot during your childhood?
When I was younger, I was told that ghosts can most likely be found near water bodies. That concept intrigued me and that superstition has always stayed with me.
Coming to short films, many are now being made with a time frame of under 10 minutes. Do you think that’s becoming the staple for short films?
I don’t think that 7 or 10 minutes is the staple for short films. I think the Indian film-makers are looking at the streaming space as their outlet to come out with a story that can be told in that time format.
Like, there are some stories that need to be told in those 2 or 2.5 hours. Similarly, there are some stories that can be told in under 10 minutes. We have film-makers coming up with short films that are even of a 30 minute duration.
Trade pundits say that short films and the digital space is becoming too bold. What’s your take on that?
I have not seen the series that are termed ‘bold’, so I cannot comment on that. But I am not very sure what ‘bold’ means. Nowadays, anything that’s a bit unique and different is termed bold. Film-makers and actors are looking to do something unique in the streaming screen space. So, I think the term ‘bold’ is going to be stuck on the streaming scene for a while.
Finally, do you think the digital space will take over the theater experience?
See, the digital streaming space is a good option for viewers to see good, unique content and for film-makers to experiment. But it’s difficult for it to replace traditional films and the theater concept for simple logistical reasons. There are some films that still demand to be seen on the big screen, with the right timeframe and all that.
There’s talk of a second and third season of the series. Are you open to acting in them?
Yeah, definitely. I would love to be part of the horror experience once more, all over again.