Phoonk 2: Producer Ram Gopal Varma pays you to watch his Hindi horror film

Phoonk 2: Producer Ram Gopal Varma pays you to watch his Hindi horror film

But there are conditions -- to win five lakhs you must watch it alone, let the public outside the cinema monitor your heart rate and allow a night vision camera to make sure you don't hide

 

In elite Bolllywood circles it is agreed that Ram Gopal Varma used to be Bollywood's antithetically cool director till somewhere post "Company" and "Bhoot" in 2005 when he 'lost the plot' with his dark and disturbing brand of Hindi cinema.

Actors however believe that Varma can make them look serious and credible. Which is how RGV has survived and now he's poised for a 2010 comeback with the recently released Amitabh Bachchan starrer "Rann" and India's first 3D horror film to follow, to ensure he doesn't go down as the maker of great gangster films but average in everything else.

First though, "Phoonk 2" in April, the sequel to Phoonk, a bubblegum horror film which critics did not find scary. But because of a gimmicky SMS contest offering five lakh rupees (about $10,700) to anyone who could sit through the film alone in an auditorium, it had houseful collections on its opening weekend.

And that, as far as the Bollywood business dynamics are concerned, is all that matters. Never mind that the media and movie goers accused the director of rigging the contest with one Bangalore fan claiming he fulfilled the challenge legitimately -- but in the end no one got the cash.

For the sequel, "Phoonk 2", Ram Gopal Varma plays producer and has put the original writer Milind Gadagkar, in front as director. Throwing out the exact same challenge to an audience less interested in Indian horror flicks -- there isn't a mainstream genre yet to speak of a following -- than the five hundred thousand rupee bounty.

But this time contestants will have their heartbeat and pulse rate monitored by an ECG machine and results "will be shown live on a screen outside the theatre to both the media and all concerned," said Varma at a Mumbai press con on Tuesday. "Also, a night vision camera will be placed in front of him if the challenger tries to act smart by keeping his eyes shut."

Ram Gopal Varma may want to make horror films but at heart his talent for morbidity is pure gangster.

The contest launches March 10 on the official Phoonk 2 website and will be open to people across India with an age group restriction of 18-60 years.