Filmmaker Ananth Mahadevan is in a space where he always wanted to be. After all, his film Mee Sindhutai Sapkal has won him two National Awards. But Ananth isn't just basking that glory. He's started work on a couple of projects and is already feeling the pressure of living up to the audience's expectations. Ananth speaks to CS about the film that changed his life:
Who: Ananth Mahadevan
What: Talking about his films
Where: At his office
When I read Sindhutai's story in a newspaper, it was like a film spread in front of me. It was so unbelievable that people would have well taken it for fiction if we hadn't said that the film was based on a real story. Can you imagine a woman fending for her new born baby by eating food that she cooks on a dead man's pyre? She tried to commit suicide twice and now, Sindhutai is giving life to others.
The premiere of the film happened in London at the International Film Festival. Three shows had been lined up and people had warned me to not get my hopes too high as it was a regional film. But I'm glad to say that London's National Film Theatre was packed for all the three shows. Not one Maharashtrian turned up at the screening, but the theatre was full of Germans, French and the British.
So with four National Awards for Mee Sindhutai Sapkal, I can't afford to get my next ones wrong. I'm currently in the planning stages of a film, Life's Good, that's based on the relationship of a 45-year-old man and a six-year-old girl. Jackie Shroff will play the protagonist. In the Indian film industry, only the young actors are appreciated, unlike in Hollywood where actors like Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hanks, Robert D'jeneiro are revered. Another project that's close to my heart is Staying Alive.
It has been shot in the ICCU of Jaslok hospital as it is based on the story of an underworld guy and a regular guy, both being treated for heart attacks. Written by Sujit Sen, the film just narrates the entire story on the duo's expressions and dialogues as they are both flat on their backs on the hospital beds; while their wives are bonding outside in the corridors. We screened the film for doctors and even they were surprised to see what went on at midnight in their wards when they were off duty.
The great minds
When I'm off work, I love to watch films of the great masters like Kurosawa, Bergman, D W Griffith, Renault, Polanski and others. Also, I read a lot and am deeply into music -- from country to Indian classical. My greatest high was when I got to sing a song with Asha Bhosle last month.
As for reading, I love to read autobiographies and biographies of actors, businessmen, etc. I've realised that fact is stranger than fiction. Currently, I'm reading some documented memoirs about India's first practicing lady doctor (1890s), Rakma Bai, who was a fiery lady. After all, we filmmakers are the bridge between fact and fiction.