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How a Director plays with the Character and the Audience ?

In most of the suspense thrillers and mystery films, the script revolves around information. As an audience, sometimes we are nothing more than just a mesmerized group watching each and every step of a magic show, called films. Obviously, there is nothing more magical than watching these characters unwind their magic on-screen, something we get carried away and leave our emotional imprints behind. The relation between the audience and characters is like a two-way traffic.

Let us discuss three situations which make it even more exciting:

  1. When Character knows but Audience doesn’t know

This is the situation when the character is superior than the audience. To simplify it, let us take a scene from Priyadarshan’s ‘Bhool Bhulaiyya’.

In this scene, we see Aditya (Akshay Kumar) trying to unlock the mystery behind ‘Manjulika’. So one night, after she performs behind closed door, he talks to her holding a cane stick and wearing ‘khadau’ (wooden slipper) of Raja Vibhuti Narayan. He challenges her to come on the night of Durga Ashtami and should leave right now. We see her sound fades away and she leaves. Audience doesn’t see her. Aditya opens the door and looks around. The camera pans a little and we see the haphazard room. Now if you realize, there is a CUT. The next scene starts with Aditya going with his toothbrush near the pool inside the palace and the ‘Goti’ boy jumps in the pool out of nowhere. The scene turns into a comedy.

At this stage in the film, Aditya knows much more than the audience and he is superior than the audience. He asks the boy to join him on a visit to a village as he knows the the real culprit and wants to confirm it by investigating.

  • When Audience knows but the Character doesn’t know

In the same film (Bhool Bhulaiyya), there is a scene when Aditya is about to make an entry for the first time in the haveli and we see Batuk (played by Paresh Rawal) wandering around the haveli and suspecting a spirit around.

A female servant keeps a bronze vessel and she leaves the frame. The Audience sees it but Batuk enters the frame a few seconds late. As the bronze vessel moves by itself, he thinks it to be the spirit of Manjulika and we all laugh. In this particular scene, audience laughs because they know the ‘truth’ and seeing Batuk’s animated movements, we all laugh. But Batuk doesn’t know.

  • When ‘nobody’ knows

Till Aditya’s entry into the film, whatever strange things happen inside the haveli, neither Audience nor the Characters know the reason and everyone of ‘us’ believe that it is the presence of a ghost inside the haveli.

This is a great device that a filmmaker can use in their films (not always suspense films). Priyadarshan could have used the third situation (when nobody knows) entirely till the end, but then the film could have been a little weak, especially Aditya’s character. He has been called there to investigate the strange situations and this is ‘his kind’ of case as we all know by the end of the film.  

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