|By Manissha Despaande, Bollywood Trade News Network|
Comedy specialist Priyadarshan's next film, MALAMAAL WEEKLY is all set to hit the marquee this week. However the director whose comedy formula worked wonders at the box-office in HUNGAMA, HULCHUL and his last comedy, GARAM MASALA, has chosen to deviate from his usual comedy formula in his latest film. It is an experiment that the director is hoping will succeed in full measure at the box-office considering that the Indian audiences have matured over the years. In the following interview, he talks about the film and his decision to pursue his kind of films.
MALAMAAL WEEKLY is different from his earlier comedies:
"It is not a re-make like my previous films. It is the first in the series of absolutely original stories and the first comedy in the history of Indian cinema, made against the backdrop of a village. Unlike my previous comedies where the characters were exaggerated, this one has got a very real feel to it with real characters like the barber, the milkman and the butcher. I would say that it is as hilarious as GARAM MASALA but far more real than GM. The ambience and the performances, all give the impression of it being a very realistic film."
Opting to work with character actors instead of big stars in the film:
That's because everyone is a character in the film. There are no stars to pull the crowds but artistes who play their characters to the hilt. A lot of people have been curious about this aspect and why I chose Paresh Rawal and Rajpal Yadav to play two of the main protagonists. The reason is that my casting depends entirely on my comfort level. I was comfortable working with this cast and I did not find the need to work with anyone greater, who could do better work. There's a saying in Malyalam, which says that if you have enough butter in the house, please don't search for ghee. It applies perfectly here. In fact, it is one film that I pray to God should work at the box-office because it is a director's film and not an artists' film."
The film being inspired by a real life story:
The backdrop of the film is definitely real. The film portrays life in a small northern village where drought and famine are a regular occurrence and water is a luxury. A number of villages in U.P and M.P, face an acute scarcity of water in summer when people buy water from well owners and the Thakuranis. It is during one such drought-hit period that a villager wins a lottery ticket that brings a renewed hope to the village. The film has been shot in the Kadekudhi village of Tamilnadu but my art-director worked at length to recreate a village called 'Lahori' in Madhya Pradesh. Even the names of the buildings and the shops in the vicinity were changed to give it a northern look."
Decision to restructure his comedy formula for all future projects:
It is true that I have decided not to repeat the exaggerated comedy formula that was evident in GARAM MASALA and HUNGAMA. Humour has always had an unconditional acceptance among Indian audiences but the definition of comedy has undergone a change over a period of time. The audiences today don't endorse anything in the name of buffoonery and it is a very positive progression. The only thing that I am averse to is double-meaning dialogues though I am not against those filmmakers who depend on it. I want people to go and watch films with their families without getting embarrassed at least in the case of my films. I don't feel that I am the greatest comedy maker but when it comes to choosing between situational and dialogue comedy, I prefer the former. My next film, CHUPKE CHUPKE starring Akshay Kumar and Govinda, also falls in this genre.
Digression to the serious formula that backfired in KYON KI:
I feel that it was the intensity of the film and the wrong timing of its release, during the festival season that led to KYON KI taking a beating at the box-office.
In fact, some people felt that it was far too serious and hard-hitting for the time when it was released. Ideally it should have had a solo release. Also it was released against my second film, GARAM MASALA, which only worked against the interests of the film. It is sad that the film did not meet with the expected response but I am definitely not going back on my decision to get back to serious filmmaking. I started out with VIRASAT and GARDISH, there's no reason why I shouldn't continue making films in the same genre."
His future plans:
"I intend to explore both comedy and serious subjects in my future projects but I have realized that one has to choose between trying to please the audiences and one's creative pursuits. If you want to be a successful director, you have to do what people want. On the other hand if you want to follow your heart, you should not always expect the audiences to understand your films."
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