Posted: 20 August 2007 at 11:00am | IP Logged
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Remake specialist and filmmaker Priyadarshan has glorious praise for his star cast in his upcoming Bhool Bhulaiya
IN Delhi to lend Mallu muscle to Jai Hind TV, a Malayalam channel backed by the Congress, filmmaker Priyadarshan takes time off for a telephonic interview on his favourite stars – Akshay Kumar and Paresh Rawal. His latest film Bhool Bhulaiya is a remake of the Malayalam superhit Manichitrathazhu (The ornate lock).
The plot explores issues of supernatural elements and schizophrenia.
The central characters played by Mohanlal, Shobhana and Suresh Gopi are played by Akshay Kumar, Vidya Balan and Shiney Ahuja respectively.
You've assisted director Fazil in the making of Manachitrathazhu in 1993, which you have now remade as Bhool Bhulaiya. Did you think you'd remake it?
I never thought then. Fazil is like a guru to me. We shot Manichitrathazhu in 27 days. Fazil told me to handle the second unit. And the subject is an international subject though it is not inspired by any English film. It's won three National Awards.
After Muskurahat I've been behind producers like Vijay Gilani to remake this film. But I was always told that this film didn't fit into Hindi milieu. Even after I made Hungama, I pushed Venus Films to back it. But later, Akshay Kumar heard the script and he jumped at it.
Akshay's stepping into Mohanlal's role here.
Yes. I've done 31 films with Mohanlal. He's done comedy, serious roles and is very flexible. I see a lot of his qualities on the sets in Akshay now.
That's a very big compliment to Akshay.
Yes. He was stiff in Hera Pheri because of his action hero background. But nowadays Akshay's easiness reminds me of Mohanlal. He's not acting now. He's behaving like his character.
Obviously there was tremendous pressure post even the Rajnikant-starrer Chandramukhi based on the same film.
Yes there was. But this is not a remake of Chandramukhi. Chandramukhi is a mutilated version of Manichitrathazhu. I saw five reels of the film and just put it away.
Both Fazil and I were very upset after watching it. Fazil warned me, 'This is my baby, don't spoil her.' We have bought the rights to the film.
How much was it bought for?
I think they bought it for Rs 1.5 crore.
Suniel Shetty had to pay up for Bhagam Bhaag (based on Mannar Mathai Speaking) after the film released.
I had not enjoyed making the film. But see, Partner is based on an English film and it's a big hit. Distributors and producers just want hits.
And the let me tell you that 99 per cent of the films made here have always been inspired by some other film. I haven't found a Bimal Roy or Satyajit Ray or Shakti Samanta in today's generation. The whole interest is the film should be successful.
So are you saying original scripts will not succeed?
I've made 71 films, 36 of which are original. Both worked for me. When I came into Hindi films I made films like Gardish, an original script, but it flopped.
I was shocked. So I played my cards differently. It was the success of Malamaal Weekly recently that made me more confident. And the new generation doesn't even read. They don't know originals.
But you're just making it worse for them.
I'm making two kinds of films. One for personal satisfaction — Kanjeevaram, which is made from the heart. The other's to entertain people. Sholay is based on The Secret of Santa Victoria, but it became a hit.
Rawal plays the superstitious uncle in Bhool Bhulaiya
Were you able to replicate the thrill of Manichitrathazhu in Bhool Bhulaiya?
See, Manichitrathazhu was made on a very small canvas with talents like Mohanlal and Shobhana who won a National Award for this film. Bhool Bhulaiya is made on a massive canvas.
I have shot in places like Jaipur and Benares. I tried to extract the same from my cast in Bhool Bhulaiya. I never allowed anybody to watch the original. Akshay wanted to see the film badly, but I didn't let him.
So has he watched it now? What does he think of the original?
He's just finished dubbing. So I think I'll allow him to watch it.
What's the most challenging part of the shoot?
The climax. Shobhana's even got a Padmashri for her Bharatnatyam talent, so making a non dancer like Vidya learn Kathak was a big challenge. But Vidya worked very hard. Initially I had thought of Aishwarya for the role, but later when I saw Munnabhai and Parineeta, I was convinced that Vidya Balan should be playing the role. I needed someone who looked Indian. Vidya's really polished now, almost like a modern Smita Patil.
Another huge compliment for your cast member.
Yes. She works very hard and while I think the girl-next-door image fits her best, she's also a replacement for South Indian stars like Hema Malini and Vyjantimala.
Did you speak in Malayalam with her on the sets?
I don't face a language problem here. I can read and write in Hindi and I've forced myself to speak as well, but I'm quite conscious. I've never felt that Vidya is a girl from South. To me, she's a Bombay girl.
Does Paresh play the role of the superstitious uncle?
Yes. In my next film for Shemaroo, he plays a hero of sorts. He told me, 'You've given me an image in Hera Pheri and now I want you to break that image.' So this next film with Akshaye Khanna and Paresh is a father-son emotional film.
After playing Amitabh's son in Waqt, didn't Akshay Kumar jump at this role?
C'mon, he doesn't have dates. Aamir and SRK don't have dates for me. But after the success of films like Hungama and Hulchul, which didn't have a huge star cast, I have begun believing in the strength of my own scripts here.
You shot Bhool Bhulaiya in 41 days. How do you manage these lightning shoots in Bollywood?
It was 41 days plus two days for patchwork. I feel that when I've managed to get stars like Salman and Govinda to the sets at 5.30 in the morning I'm really blessed. I get them with sensibility and love. I feel that if you are committed, then your actors are even more committed.
You lost a good friend in Jeeva, a favourite cinematographer on your shoots.
I've never been so broken. I really collapsed after his death. Even during the Kanjeevaram shoot, I kept referring to cinematographer Tirru as Jeeva.
Did you sign a multi-film contract with T-Series or is it just this one film?
No, it's just this one film. After Gardish, Gulshan Kumar gave me an advance to make another film and I'm honouring the contract now. Bhushan Kumar gave me a lot of liberty with the film and it's very important for the producer to trust you.
Edited by *Fiza* - 20 August 2007 at 11:01am