Priyadarshan: Back with Malamaal Weekly

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Posted: 16 years ago

After the success of Garam Masala, Priyadarshan is back with another comedy -- Malamaal Weekly. Starring Om Puri, Paresh Rawal, Reteish Deshmukh and Reema Sen, this low-budget film is set to release this week. The director tells Patcy N more about it and what we can expect from him in future.

Is Malamaal Weekly a copy of any of your Malayalam films?

No. I have given up ideas of doing a remake. No one else writes comedy in Kerala now, so I thought of writing again. This is my 62nd film, 37 of which have been written by me. I wanted to make this film in Malayalam, but it never happened. The film has been inspired by R K Laxman's Malgudi Days. I think it will be the first Indian comedy in a village.

What is the film about?

It is set in a village in Madhya Pradesh called Laholi, which has a water crisis. The thakurani of the village (Sudha Chandran) and her brother (Rajpal Yadav) are cruel, and sell well water for a living. The only educated man in the village (Paresh Rawal) sells lottery tickets. He sells a winning ticket to a man (Malayalam actor Innocent) who dies. Rawal wants to steal the winning ticket, but the milkman (Om Puri) finds out, and gradually, so does the entire village.

Now, the whole village wants to cash this ticket. And they want to keep the secret that the man who won is dead. They want to cheat, but for the prosperity of the village. Rajpal Yadav wants to spoil it though, because money coming to the village means he loses clout.

Are Malayalam actors better than actors in Bollywood?

I am surprised at the number of talented actors in Bollywood right now. They are very good and they all come from the stage. They do small roles, but they do it naturally. I have a few talented actors in this film. Their roles are small, but they haven't been seen in films regularly.

Was Rajpal's character to be played by Jagdee Shreekumar?

Yes. I changed that because the character needed to say a lot, and I assumed Jagdee Shreekumar wouldn't be comfortable speaking Hindi.

How is Reteish Deshmukh as an actor?

He is raw, but the only thing I look at in an actor is whether he has common sense or not. Which he has because of his academic background and his sensibility. Every actor has his or her own style, so it is the duty of the director to mould it the way they want. And he is very intelligent. Most stars are bad. Even a few big heroes I have seen are dumb.

Why didn't you think of a big star for the film?

I don't want any big stars in this movie. There is no hero because every character is a hero here. If I bring in a star, it becomes a regular Hindi film. I wanted a simple actor so it wouldn't affect my film.

Is Paresh Rawal another Amrish Puri in the making?

There is a saying in Malayalam -- 'When you have enough butter, please don't hunt for ghee.' So, when I have something good with me, why should I look for another person? He is somebody who does justice to my roles. He was not a comedian; he was villain before he did Hera Pheri. He is very versatile. Why should I lose a good actor? If he is not needed in my film, I won't ask him to be part of it.

There was a rumour that Malamaal Weekly is a copy of Victoria 203?

I heard it in my car while listening to the radio. If they ever come to me, I would like to give them a piece of my mind. My story has no connection with that.

Being from the Malayalam film industry, what do you learn from Bollywood?

Nothing at all, because there is no difference. If at all there is any difference, it is the audience and its different tastes. Even today, you can make a slow-paced film that will be huge in Malayalam, which is not possible in Hindi because the life is very fast here. Here, they don't have the patience to sit and analyse something. I am talking about the masses, not the elite. So, I have also decided that, in future, whatever I make will be for a mass audience.

With no big stars, will this hamper results at the box office?

Please don't say that. I want the film to work without a big star. If it doesn't, I will go back to my old style and make movies with bigger stars.

Why do you think Kyon Ki didn't do well?

I always wonder how the audience decides. They have a sixth sense. My producer was surprised to see a huge opening for Hungama, so I am not sure why Kyon Ki flopped. Even big movies like Paheli flop.

Salman trusted me a lot. He acted and performed extremely well. The only person who failed was me. I should have understood that this kind of subject should not be attempted with big stars. There was lot of disappointment when Salman died in the film. As he is an actor of the masses, they will not accept this.

Did you expect Garam Masala to be such a hit?

I was sure it would be a hit, but not such a huge one. I think humour worked. For youngsters today, an outing means enjoyment and nothing else. They are the reason my movie worked. I was surprised when I found out it was the biggest hit of my career.

Why only comedies?

I got fed up of making comedies and came here to make films like Virasat and Gardish. But I was pulled back into doing comedies again. At the same time, I feel that if people enjoy it, why shouldn't I? Of course, I want to do some serious cinema too.

Tell us about your upcoming film with Kareena and Shahid.

It has been titled Chup Chup Ke and is a remake of a Malayalam film called Punjabi House.

Is it true that you are planning a movie with Shah Rukh Khan?

Shah Rukh and I have been thinking of making something together, but nothing has materialised. I have not decided anything. I am waiting to see the fate of Malamaal Weekly.

What are the requirements for a good comedy?

Never use double-entendres. Create as many situations as possible. Never make your actors do comical faces. Let them be serious and let the situations make people laugh.

What are your other projects in hand?

I am going to make a film with Govinda and Akshay Kumar -- a comedy-thriller. I am also planning a movie called Bhraasht, based on caste wars, and am thinking of taking Sanjay Dutt. I have a Tamil film on my mind, about the weavers of Kanchipuram saris. I have had the script in hand for eight years. I will shoot for 20 days in July, as I need the rains for it. I might plan a Malayalam film too, after 3-4 years.



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