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Interview - Director Shankar - august 2000


Q: Are you taking up a big burden by directing only megascale movies ? You'll never be able to deviate from the trend, later on, is it not ?

A: Somehow, I started a trend. After "Gentleman,' people started expecting big things from me. The expectation has grown like a dinosaur now. That's the reason I had to add new facets that outdid my old movies, the end product being 'Mudhalvan.' I had the stuff in me to meet any challenge head on. I feel a sense of satisfaction when I see the film. I get strength when I see the challenges I have met and won over. So, I term the words 'mega-scale' or awe-inspiring as the steps to success.

Q: Just a wild thought: If you produce a low budget ordinary film, will it seem like Mr. V.G.P. Santhosham in dhoti?

A: (laughs wildly) Well, I am sure I can make an ordinary film. I will not call it low or high budget, but it will surely be according to the film's theme. After 'Jeans' I thought of making a story like Mahendran did about family sentiments. A gentle, yet thought-provoking movie about inter-relationships. But, well wishers who really care, asked me not to do it. 'When you can lift rocks, why lift sacks?' was their logic. They did not want me to use up my energy on mundane projects. When I feel I need to rest then I'll make such small efforts.

Q: Why so late? Are you afraid you can't make small projects click?

A: No way! I can win there too. If we take big budget movies we first list up all sorts of criticisms we'll have to face. We'll have to checkmate those criticisms. Be it football on a field or playing chess on a chessboard, both will earn the title of 'world champion.' To mesmerize and win is what matters

Q: There is a complaint that you give more importance to high-tech gimmicks than the story.

A: Never! I first decide the story. It then forms into scenes and dialogues. The script is made and only then do I start thinking of other details. Say, for example, there is this new camera '435.' I never heard of this when I started the 'Mudhalvan' project. I felt the need to do something new .halfway. That is when I heard about '435.' Usually a camera runs 24 frames. But, this baby goes 48, then changes to 8 and that too without any exposure or damage to the 'output.' It comes out as a clear and perfect scene, in the same way that I used a new zoom lens for the number 'Azhagana Rachasiye.'

Q; So, what is our next field ? Bollywood? Hollywood?

A: I had offers in the list during the shooting of 'Jeans.' Indians like Shekhar Kapoor were being paid full attention then. They sent me their wishes when they heard that the film 'Indian' was to be considered for the Oscar. Even in the last week there was an invitation. But, I have to feel it in me-- say, a signal from within me to make a Hollywood movie. I might do a Hindi movie. The doors have to open one way or the other.

Q: Do you think there will be a change in the future trend?

A: I've never delved too deep. According to me, cinema will be ever present despite other technological advancements in television or other media. People will still want to dress up and go to the theatre to watch a film. If you ask me whether there will be a change in future movie trends, then the answer is 'Yes.' Change here means development in technology, tastes of people, stories, themes, directors, artists…the list goes on and on. It depends on how we use these changes to reshape the cinema.

Q: There is speculation that you'll be doing another film for Kunjumon ?

A: No, there is surely no such idea.

Q: Mr. Rajnikant and you ?

A: Well, nothing yet. We talk whenever opportunity arises. We both wish to make a movie together. It will happen one day, I'm sure.

Q: How do you get your story that clicks ?

A: All things-anecdotes, happenings that we see, hear, feel, cry for, fear about, get stored up in our mind bank. This bank loans out good themes that the public loves. For example, I was deeply angry upon entering polytechnic institute. I had to show so many certificates and to obtain these that were rightfully mine, I had to run from North Pole to South Pole getting dog-tired. Apparently, all my colleagues had the same harrowing experience. My anger then gave me a theme for 'Indian' Who can rise against the wrong? Some one who had given freedom to the country. So, he'll have to be old. Will he use the Indian method of reforming people? If so, will people listen? I thought about all these things and came up with the answers.

Q: You'll succeed only if you satisfy all sections like youth, working class, middle-aged city people, villagers etc. isn't it ? How do you handle that ?

A: Theme is the basis of success. Whoever may be the viewer, a good theme will earn applause. If we select a theme close to the common man's heart, it's sure to click. Then we can see how different people react.

Q: Why 'Mudhalvan' and not 'Mudhalvar'?

A: It is the story of an ordinary man who, out of the blue, becomes a public figure. That's why it's Mudhalvan!

Q: Any new story that's up your sleeve?

A: You bet ! I have plans to make lively stories about lifeless objects. Just wait and see. It will be a suspense till then.

source: goyogi 



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