Talk Round' Town

"Ash would have been a grave mistake" - Priyadarshan

Ask Priyadarshan whether his forthcoming release "Bhool Bhulaiya" is a rehash of the Tamil hit "Chandramukhi", starring Rajnikant and Jyothika, and he instantly becomes livid with rage.

2007-10-10T11:35:00Z
Ask Priyadarshan whether his forthcoming release "Bhool Bhulaiya" is a rehash of the Tamil hit "Chandramukhi", starring Rajnikant and Jyothika, and he instantly becomes livid with rage. Reason being the renowned director considers "Chandramukhi" a commercial massacre of the original --- a Malayalam film titled "Mani Chitra Thazhu", starring Mohanlal and Shobhana, which was made way back in 1981.

"The truth is that I was pissed off when the media wrote that I was remaking a trash film like "Chandramukhi", whereas the original version is considered a classic even today. I had assisted its director Fazil in the venture. But the makers of "Chandramukhi" killed Fazil's concept and made it into a Rajnikant-style film because they wanted to cater to the masses. I have made "Bhool Bhulaiya" by sticking to the original film's concept," Priyan, as he is fondly called by his colleagues, elaborated when we met at Bhushan Kumar's bungalow in the city suburbs.

But then, in what way is "Bhool Bhulaiya" different from the original Malayalam hit? "Although I followed the original, I have made sure that the subject suits the North Indian audience and does not reek of nativity in any way. I decided to have Varanasi as the backdrop instead of Kerala." "Chandramukhi" could be categorized as an action film. And the original version portrayed the protagonist as a split personality. A former psychology student, Priyan has taken the liberty to base the story on an identity syndrome.

As of now, there is quite some confusion among cine-goers whether "Bhool Bhulaiya" is based on supernatural forces or is primarily a comedy. Priyan describes "Bhool Bhulaiya" as a movie with the tense pace of "Bhooth" and the humour of "Hera Pheri". "I am trying to make a film which combines horror and humour for the first time. Today people want to watch something which has both thrill and comedy together. The last four reels of "Bhool Bhulaiya" are intense and dramatic," the director revealed. In real life, Priyan confesses he does not believe in ghosts or supernatural forces.

Whenever an original is remade, expectations run high, especially from the actors. It was a challenge for Priyan to make Vidya Balan do Shobnana's role. "There is a lot of difference between a genuine dancer and a filmy dancer. Vidya should get credit for working so hard on her role that was tailormade for her," said the no-nonsense director, who is known for his ability to call a spade a spade. However, Vidya was not his first choice. "Initially, I had Aishwarya Rai in mind when we were planning the project. However, after Vidya was selected, I realized that it would have been a grave mistake on my part had I taken Aishwarya."

Priyan does not agree that all of his films are remakes of South Indian films. ""Malalamaal Weekly" was an original film of mine. After it became a big hit, it is being made in all South Indian languages one after the other. My assistant Rajeev is now making a sequel to the movie." "Dhol", Priyan concedes, is a rehash of three Malayalam films – "Manamathai", "Mazhai Peyyunnu Madhalam Kottunnu" and "Chandralekha".

Priyan has made 71 films till date, including "Bhool Bhulaiya". Many of them are remakes but the director has no regrets. He feels it is better to remake Malayalam movies because he thinks he cannot do justice to original Hindi films because of budget constraints. "My "Kabhi Na Kabhi" was an original, written by Javed Akhtar….. Do you know that all of David Dhawan's films have been rehashed from Bhagyaraj's hit films? I think many remakes of South Indian hits fail in Bollywood because they try to make them as it is. Shankar failed when he made "Nayak", the Hindi version of his original Tamil film "Mudhalvan". I make it a point not to let any of my Hindi films look like the South Indian version from any angle. ".

In the past, Priyadarshan has received much flak for working with the same set of actors over and over again. But he does not care two hoots. "When I have butter at home, why should I look for ghee? I like to use complete actors like Paresh Rawal, Rajpal Yadav
and Manoj Joshi who can do all kinds of roles. I am of the opinion that known devils are better than unknown angels," quiped Priyan.

Interestingly, though Priyan has a habit of repeating his actors, his favourite actor Mohanlal has not been spotted in any of his Hindi films. "Saza E Kaala Pani", which featured the actor, was made in Malayalam and dubbed in Hindi. "The fact remains that I had offered Mohanlal a film, not once but twice. First, I offered him the role in "Kyonki" which Nedumudi had played in its original version "Thalavattam". The second time, I offered him the hit character which Paresh Rawal ultimately did in "Hungama", a remake of Malayalam hit "Mookkuthi". Apparently, Mohanlal had made it clear that he would do a Hindi film only if he played a South Indian character. Moreover, no Bollywood film-maker could afford to pay him what the superstar earns in Malayalam cinema.

To avoid the "Bhool Bhulaiya" actors from getting influenced by the original, Priyan did not allow any of his actors to see the Malayalam film. "The biggest challenge for me was to extract the performance from all the artistes. I did not allow them to see the original version because I wanted them to approach their roles in their own way."

By Jyothi Venkatesh (SAMPURN)

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