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Demonic Desi: Indian American Bishal Dutta’s Debut Film ‘It Lives Inside’ to Hit Theaters Next Month

Demonic Desi: Indian American Bishal Dutta’s Debut Film ‘It Lives Inside’ to Hit Theaters Next Month

  • The horror film follows Sam (Megan Suri), an Indian American high school student who struggles with her heritage and wants only to be like everyone else.

Bishal Dutta is gearing up for the Sept. 22 release of his debut feature film “It Lives Inside.” The horror film follows Sam (Megan Suri), an Indian American high school student who prefers to go by “Sam,” and struggles with her heritage and wants only to be like everyone else. After a falling out with her former best friend, Tamira (Mohana Krishnan), she unwittingly releases a demonic spirit that feeds on her loneliness.

Dutta has loved horror films ever since he was a kid. When he moved from India to the U.S., it helped him to watch iconic horror films like “Poltergeist,” and  “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” the young filmmaker told Geek TV at the recently concluded Comic-Con International in San Diego, California. “They were really formative to me in helping me understand what it was like to be American,” he told the television channel, adding that he “became obsessed” with them. 

Who is Bishal Dutta?

An award-winning director, his work includes short films, digital series, music videos and broadcast commercials. His short film,”Life in Color” was an official selection at the American Pavilion’s Emerging Filmmaker Showcase at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. The short also caught the eye of James Wan and Atomic Monster who championed him to direct their upcoming untitled horror feature at New Line. His short film “Inferno” is an original on Gunpowder & Sky’s Alter horror platform. His films have been honored at nearly two dozen film festivals around the world, including those in Italy, Austria and France. He has received six best director awards for his narrative and documentary work.

Fascination With Horror Genre 

He was 16 when the first “Conjuring” film came out. Speaking with Collider, he recalled how “kids were daring each other to go see it in high school.” He saw the film, and “was so terrified,” he told the online entertainment. Publication. He then showed it to his parents, who “couldn’t make it through halfway.” What he enjoyed the most in the film was “the component of horror filmmaking, which is playing jokes on people.” He felt that there was part of that prankster in him that really enjoyed that experience. “I have to keep seeing these things. I have to keep seeing how they affect an audience, as big of an audience as possible.”

When he was coming up with the story for the film, he was “thinking that there are certain emotions that you feel, especially when you’re a teenager, and the only realistic way to convey them is in a horror film,” he told Geek TV. “I wanted to come up with the perfect balance between a family drama and a very brutal, visceral horror film.” Three things influenced him in developing the storyline said. “An Indian legend, a personal story his grandfather told as a kid, and his experience of moving here from India and growing up in a new culture.”

An Indian American Film

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When asked by Collider if “It Lives Inside” is an Indian or an American film, Dutta described it as “Indian American.” Noting that he’s “always been torn between the two, “ especially when he was younger, Dutta said today feels much “more of a balance, and I think that is the identity.” And that’s where he can identify with Sam, his film’s protagonist. “She is both, [but] she can’t navigate the two. And that felt like a really novel conflict that I don’t think I’d seen too much, at least in a horror film. So, that was the starting place and really accentuating that conflict as much as possible.”

Speaking about the casting, he told GeekTV that Suri was “the first person” he met for the role. “I couldn’t get her out of my mind for this character,” he said. “I could tell based on her previous work that she was capable of doing the insecure, really likable teenage character. He said some of the other actors — Neeru Bajwa and Vik Sahay — “brought such humanity to the characters.” He continued: “Now when I look at the film, I feel like these are real people from my life. What excites me about hopefully one day continuing the story is those characters and feeling like they’re real people and that I keep wanting to hear their stories.”

And what about this film? Have his parents watched it? Could they sit through it? 

“They did watch the whole thing,” Dutta told Collider. But now his father “doesn’t go in the basement anymore when it’s too dark.” However, he calls it “a dual experience because while they’re scared, this film in so many ways is so personal, and I think it meant a lot to them to see these moments that are really from our life and whatnot.”

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