After three decades and 87 films in the industry which have won him state awards, a National Award and the Padma Shri, one wonders what inspires director-producer-screenwriter Priyadarshan to go on making films which are loved across generations.
The man confesses in plain and simple terms, “What inspires me is only the subject and plot – nothing else. And, after a pause, “how much money the producer gives!” He shares that starting his career from down South has been advantageous.
“The Malayalam film industry was a very good field for me to learn how to make South cinema. Specially because in Malayalam cinema, we have very limited budgets and so we have to depend more on content than on technical perfection. I decided to learn how to make films faster and better, with the little money available,” shares the filmmaker who began his career in Malayalam cinema in 1984 but has been active in Bollywood for the past decade.
“When I came to Tamil, Telugu or main Hindi cinema, I had lot of luxury because I started out eating one meal a day while now I am eating five meals a day,” he laughs, enjoying his own joke thoroughly.
Despite having begun with big budget and serious films like “Viraasat and Gardish I realised that there was a huge gap in comedy, so I made Hera Pheri.” The inspiration behind this witty tale lies in Priyadarshan’s love for comics and cartoon characters. “I love comics since childhood. My dad was a librarian so I used to get a lot of opportunity to read, which helped me write. I used to love reading works by PG Wodehouse, Chaplin and cartoons like Mickey Mouse. Even today my favourite timepass is watching Tom & Jerry. I can watch it anytime. I still have a great collection of Tom & Jerry. Its such a relief,” he confesses adding, “After Malamaal Weekly, everybody was making comedies. Then, I realised people will also get fed up with a lot of comedy. So, I thought of trying something different.” The result is his upcoming film Rangrezz which stars Jackky Bhagnani and Priya Anand.
It was a conscious decision on Priyadarshan’s part to not to rope in a big star cast. “I purposely wanted actors without an image because the subject of the film is such. In fact most of the actors in the film are from NSD. I enjoyed shooting with them because I could mould them the way I wanted, since they don’t have an image,” he says with conviction without being worried about the public response.
“I never bother whether audiences will like my film or no. When I think of cinema, I think this will work. Sometimes it fails but most of the times it has worked for me,” says the veteran who is one of the few filmmakers to have successfully made films across the Southern film industries as well as Bollywood.
“I used to work furiously but now I take my own time because I can see retirement at a distance,” he smiles whispering that his next is a Malayalam flick and then a Hindi film with actor Akshay Kumar.