Priyadarshan Nair Curated
Film Director. Producer. Screenwriter
CURATED BY :
Is Bhool Bhulaiyaa your turning point?
After Virasat, I think Bhool Bhulaiyaa is the first film when I've changed my lensing and everything else. I went for bigger visuals. The subject has a serious note and I'm trying to prove that ghosts exist. Scientifically, psychologically every which way I've proved I believe.
Whats different about movie- Tezz?
You made two movies in the same week -- was that a wise decision?
It's not a wise decision, but it happened. It's up to the producers. Fortunately, it's the festive season. Both films are totally different and both can stand on their caliber, so I'm not worried. Also, Salman and Akshay have their own fan following, which helps.
Why do you prefer to make comedy movies in Bollywood but not in south?
I take cinema in South seriously. I don't put seriousness in Bollywood movies. Because in Bollywood, people want entertainment even if it has no meaning. One cannot survive in Bollywood without focusing on entertainment. In Hindi film industry, the maximum one can do is try and make a film like Badhaai Ho or Andhadhun, but if I want to make something of the level of Kanchivaram it is impossible. If I will make that kind a film, it will have no traction.
You approached a lot of actors to play the lead roles in “Billu” that were ultimately played by Irrfan Khan and Lara Dutta. Why such insecurities?
A lot of actors felt insecure playing the parents of two children. I really appreciate Lara for accepting the role and I think she will be the biggest surprise of this film. An actor’s job is to do justice to what they are doing. Nobody has any image. I can understand someone like Shah Rukh (Khan) or Salman (Khan) saying that because they live on a certain image.I can understand them saying that I don’t want to play a beggar or a patient. They have been accepted in their image. The others are just actors, they will be accepted for whatever role they do.
What you enjoy more; making Malayalam films or Bollywood movies?
I will definitely say that it was the success that I was able to script here that helped me in my success in Bollywood. While the making, looks and grandiose is very rich in Bollywood, in Malayalam one has to think like Steven Spielberg, but work on a shoestring budget. But still, I will say the biggest job satisfaction I have got is from Malayalam films because of the wide range of actors here. In simple terms, I do films in Bollywood to make money.
Do you ever lie?
Cinema is always telling lies and how you convince people. I will attribute my success because I told lies quite well and was able to convince the audience.
What's your say on film critics?
The dialogues especially the one-liners in your films are always very interesting. How?
I tell my writers two things. I always insist that they shouldn't be bookish and write as if you talk in real life. I also tell artistes just to behave and not to act. In Malayalam films however exaggerated the subject may be, they want the performances to look real. That's what I tried in Hindi and it worked very well for me. After seeing Bhool Bhulaiyaa, Akshay said, Priyan, I'm feeling very good because I feel I haven't acted in the film. It's only reacting to the situations. That's how most of Hollywood directors do. They just like to react to situations. They don't like to perform. An actor's performance should never dominate the sequence. That's why I think dialogues are looking good.
How comfortable are you with Hindi language?
I can read and write but I can't speak. I can speak only to my drivers. People like Tabu start making fun of me the moment I start talking in Hindi. I can read and write because it was my second language in college. I understand Hindi completely.
You have a serious looking face, how come you make such hilarious films?
hat's a major complaint. I'm too serious to be a comedy filmmaker they say. But I have also made serious films also. You don't have to look like a buffoon to make comedy films. I only enjoy humour but I'm not delivering it as a person. I enjoy humour in my films. Even my children and wife don't consider me a very enterprising person as far as cracking jokes or reacting in a lively way. I think all my sense of humour has come from Charlie Chaplin, Laurel Hardy and Mickey Mouse.
You’ve made films like ‘Kala Pani’ and ‘Kanchivaram’ but we haven’t seen you doing that kind of cinema in Hindi.
I have come to make Hindi films to cater to a certain kind of audience, which looks for entertainment. I feel my strength here as a director will fail if I ever try something experimental. “For example, I cannot make a ‘Kanchivaram’ in Hindi. The moment I make a film like that, it may not get the right kind of exposure, it may not get the limelight and will affect my career as a successful commercial Hindi director. I am trying to play it safe to see how successful I can become as a commercial film director. A lot of people who I meet at railway stations or airports tell me — “Sir, we watch your films whenever we feel sad". So that way I am doing a social service. One good thing in Kerala is that the literacy level is very high, so one good thing is that you can talk about social problems. Political awareness is very high there, that kind of political awareness you will not see in Maharashtra. It has something to do with the basic literacy, so that’s why I don’t want to try such things. If you make an art house film you have to be sure that it will get the kind of exposure that you are expecting. That is why I make such films down south.
You once said that your introduction to movies was through watching classic films made by directors like Adoor Gopalakrishnan. When did you drift away from that kind of film?
I'm not drifting away. I'm trying to make films in my own formula. I am trying to build a bridge between an Adoor Gopalakrishnan movie and an Amitabh Bachchan action film. Yes, my canvas is commercial, but in a new, different format. It may look like an art film, at the same time the content is that of a commercial film
Which type of movies do you enjoy the most, the realistic Malayalam movies or the commercial Hindi movies?
I enjoy making both. Sometimes you even enjoy making an ad film. As long as you are working with some conviction, you feel happy.
Won't you lose touch with reality when you are making Bollywood films ?
I don't think so. I have no problem at all to adjust to both kinds of film. I always attune myself to the kind of film I am making. I am trying to alleviate the gap between the fantasy that you see in commercial movies and reality. Even in Virasat, I tried to do that. Even though it is a commercial movie, I tried to make the characters, their emotions, their behaviour as real as possible. Some of the shots in Virasat look better them the 'art film' shots Technically and authenticity-wise. It is more real than an art film. The flood scene might look like a documentary but it is a shot in a commercial film.
Are you getting a chance to experiment on realistic stories in the south?
I experiment on the commercial aspects of films. They are like the American and the French films. American films look at films with a larger than life attitude while the French films look at life as it is. Likewise, you see only larger than life characters and situations in Hindi but we see life as it is in Malayalam. Let me stress one thing, this attitude is not there in the entire south, but only in Malayalam.
Does Recognition mean critical acclaim to you?
Yes, I mean critical acclaim. Without critical acclaim, you are just a successful commercial director, and nothing more. These are the differences between being in the south and in Bombay. I am lucky to be in the south. At the same time I am getting chances to try to make some large-scale movies, rather visuals, nowadays.
What exactly do you mean by experiments, that too in a Hindi commercial set-up?
See, I am an ardent fan of David Lean. I cannot do a shot like David Leans' in a Malayalam film because the budget does not permit me. Those dreams, I mean the glossy dreams of mine, can be fulfilled only in Hindi films. At least in the song sequences. These experiments are great experience for me. I feel it doesn't matter whether I experiment here or there in Bombay. I admit I get job satisfaction only here as I get to do a lot of original works. Kerala is one place where you can make a realistic film like Nakhakshathangal, Panchagni, etc and make it a commercial success. You may know that those films ran for 200 days in Kerala. So, you get a lot of satisfaction while making them and later on too. But you get recognition only when you make a realistic film. Nobody recognizes a hit commercial film-maker.
What exactly do you mean by experiments, that too in a Hindi commercial set-up?
See, I am an ardent fan of David Lean. I cannot do a shot like David Leans' in a Malayalam film because the budget does not permit me. Those dreams, I mean the glossy dreams of mine, can be fulfilled only in Hindi films. At least in the song sequences. These experiments are great experience for me. I feel it doesn't matter whether I experiment here or there in Bombay. I admit I get job satisfaction only here as I get to do a lot of original works. Kerala is one place where you can make a realistic film like Nakhakshathangal, Panchagni, etc and make it a commercial success. You may know that those films ran for 200 days in Kerala. So, you get a lot of satisfaction while making them and later on too. But you get recognition only when you make a realistic film. Nobody recognises a hit commercial film-maker.