The movie has opened to good reviews with critics praising the gripping storyline and its lead Radhika Apte’s powerful performance as a woman scared to step out of her home. Apte’s character develops agoraphobia after escaping a rape attempt by a taxi driver.
“Within this story, there is the larger issue of our own urban spaces and how violence in the society is getting to people. Subtextually, I wanted to make a comment about it,” Pawan said in an interview.
The director, who has previously helmed Ragini MMS and Darr @ The Mall, loves watching movies in the horror-thriller space but rues that Bollywood does not churn out good stories in the genre.
He counts Hitchcock’s Psycho, Polanski’s Repulsion and Rosemary’s Baby among the movies that influenced him while growing up. “I enjoy horror, psychological thriller. They are siblings. At the base level, they both are playing with the emotion of fear. I like being in that space. I am not going to step away from this place till I feel I have made the perfect film.”
Incidentally, Apte was the first person that Pawan approached for Phobia role.“Radhika was the first person I narrated the story to. She is a great actor. The movie’s story is very dependent on the actor as that person is in every frame, so I needed a performer like her.
“We were working on something else but when I told her this story, she instantly came on board. She told me –write the script, I am in it.” Next on Pawan’s radar is a horror comedy but he says it is too early to talk about it.