I would describe fear as a feeling which comes out of being threatened with either emotional or physical violence, and it gets magnified especially if it comes from an unknown or an un-understandable source.
If you truly understand the mechanics and the motivations of the force which is threatening you, you won’t be half as scared. For example if you are confronted with a snake you will be chilled to the bone but if you can recognize the species, know what it’s poison contains, how it can effect your system, how fast it can move etc kind of details, instead of being scared you will think of ways of escaping it or killing it.
Similarly if you are alone at home at night and you hear a moaning kind of sound from inside a room where no one is supposed to be there, the slow wary walk of yours towards the room to check the source of the sound is when you will be scared maximum. That is because your own imagination takes over your mind. But once you see the source no matter how dangerous or frightening it is, you will either scream for help or run or attack it depending on you as an individual. You will simply jump into a defense mode and your fear at this time will be much lesser that what it was during the walk.
Belief in God I believe primarily comes out of fear because we have an overwhelming need to feel safe and we will never truly trust our family or the society or the police or the Government to protect us. Hence we are compelled to believe in a force which we desperately want to protect us in every which way and that is where God comes in and in order to feel the power of God we have no choice but to invent and pit his power against a counter point and thus evil forces like demons and black magic are invented.
Black magic is supposed to be used to hurt or kill an enemy by either practicing it or hiring its practitioners. Whether it exists or not, nobody can tell for sure, but I am truly stunned by the sheer number of people who in spite of their education and social status, how much they believe in it.
I think it’s mainly because whenever they don’t understand the reasons behind some negative happenings or at least when their minds refuse to accept the obvious for whatever reasons they tend to believe in the aspect of black magic.
I know of parents of this actor who was seeing a girl who they highly disapproved of. Unable to break their relationship and refusing to see a possible negative side to their own son they started believing that the girl did some black magic on him, and it started growing to the extent of them fearing everything about her.
I was always fascinated with the feeling of fear, how it consciously and subconsciously affects people in so many ways.
If you are traveling in a car on a highway and you see a very dirty looking truck coming from the opposite direction with broken headlights, peeled of paint and hanging bumper, that will scare you more than a slick looking well maintained truck. Logically speaking both will do the same damage if they hit you. But it’s somewhere your subconscious insight into the driver of the dirty truck that if he doesn’t care so much about his own truck he might not care so much about himself or you too.
Also if you observed when we with the whole family leave the house and go on a holiday for a few days, when we return, open the lock and step inside a thought fleetingly might cross our minds what the house and the various objects in the house have been up to while you were away.
Can we be really sure that the various inanimate things in our house we so take for granted in the course of the day don’t really come alive in the night after we go to sleep?
In "Phoonk" I attempted to use the above aspects of human psychology to accentuate fear. I went to the extent of attempting to make people feel not safe even with idols of Gods around.
To make the viewer fear and question everything and everyone around and what he depends on and what he believes in is the primary objective of "Phoonk".
Coming to the contest of watching “Phoonk” alone in the theatre actually no one realizes what the experience can be like. To sit in a large empty dark theatre let alone a horror film even a normal film can be a scary experience especially if you are sitting in the middle of theatre you will develop a nagging feeling that someone or something is behind your back. Actually even at home if you are alone by yourself it is very scary to watch a horror film. I would say probably it would be scarier at home than watching it in a theatre for the simple reason that there will be more hiding places in a home than a theatre for something to hide and pounce on you.
When Azam Khan, the Producer of “Phoonk”, asked me what I think will be the reaction of people who watch “Phoonk, I said the following 5 type of people could be there.
(a). One is the kind of a person who will be scared even before he enters the theatre as he connects to the intent of the film and his mind takes over after that.
(b). Another one will be a guy who will keep challenging the film to scare him. This specimen is commonly seen in theatres showing horror films. He will be booing and tittering in the silences, spoiling it for others. At heart he will be more scared than anyone else, so he tries to release his tension by making noises.
(c). Yet another one would not see most of the film especially whenever it is scary as he simply will close his eyes and ears.
(d). Also there will be a guy who will just watch the film without any feeling and this will be because he has absolutely no imagination at all. (Read ‘dumb’).
(e). And finally yet another guy might not even come to see the film not necessarily because he is scared of “Phoonk” but it could be because he saw “Contract”.