'North Indian audiences don't want to strain their minds'
Unlike his peers, filmmaker Priyadarshan doesn't try to be diplomatic. The straightforward director talks about making films for money, amnd competing against his Hera Pheri stars Akshay Kumar and Paresh Rawal in OMG Oh My God releasing on the same day as his Kamaal Dhamaal Malamaal
You too have jumped onto the sequel bandwagon with Kamaal Dhamaal Malamaal which follows your Malamaal Weekly. So, will you be taking on the Hera Pheri sequel too?
I am not directing a Hera Pheri sequel. I am not interested in sequels unless I get something better than what I originally made, and this has never happened to me. Kamaal Dhamaal Malamaal (KDM) is not a sequel, but has the same flavour as Malamaal Weekly. The only common element in both films is a lottery ticket. It is another fun film from me.
You are reverting to your forte — comedy. Is it because Tezz flopped?
My action films were not accepted, so I went back to comedy because people have accepted me in that genre. But KDM is not a full-length comedy film; it has a huge element of suspense. The fun centres around Nana Patekar’s character and he is the biggest suspense factor in the film. I don’t mind paying Rs 5 crore to anyone who can tell me the real name of Nana Patekar’s character.
Does it bother you that, despite doing films in different genres, you are known in Bollywood only for comedy films?
More than the people, it is the producers and distributors who want me to do only comedy. A Malayalam saying goes — ‘When you have enough butter, why you do you worry about the ghee?’ I make films to generate money for the producer and myself, so it’s better to do something which is less risky. I decided that since my comedy films have been successful, let me try a comedy. Even internationally, comedy is a success. Today the audiences don’t want to use their brains in the theatres; they just want to get entertained. Films like Dabangg, Rowdy Rathore and Singham have worked because people are looking for entertainment.
I have developed a certain attitude — I make films for the masses, but when I want to make a film for myself, I make a Kanchivaram which gives me a lot of creative satisfaction. It also won me the National Award for Best Director. When I made Kanchivaram, I didn’t care how others reacted to it. Here (in Bollywood), your survival depends on how successful you are.
What is your take on the kind of comedies being made these days, especially adult comedies?
I am completely against adult comedies. A comedy film is like cartoons for children. I can’t watch an embarassing comedy with my kids; and neither I can make such films.
It has been two decades since you made your Bollywood debut with Muskurahat. What has changed about your directorial style?
People say you have to change with time; I don’t agree. I can’t change with time. I want to make films that I believe in. Just because films like Rowdy Rathore and Singham are being sold, I can’t make such films.
You made your first Hindi film after 28 South Indian films. But in the last decade you have made very few South Indian films.
Simply because I was over-committed in the North. Since I have a bigger budget here, I can make my films look better and richer.
In Hindi, while your Sazaa e Kaala Paani and Virasat were appreciated, most of your recent non-comic ventures even with big stars like Salman Khan (Kyun Ki), Shah Rukh Khan (Billu) and Ajay Devgn (Aakrosh) have not worked. How do you analyse that?
I can do those kind of movies in the South. You can make sensible movies in Malayalam, because the audiences have the attitude and aptitude to watch such movies. But in North India, audiences come only for entertainment and they don’t want to strain their minds.
Akshay Kumar’s OMG Oh My God is releasing on the same day as your Kamaal Dhamaal Malamaal.
Both films are completely different, but OMG has an upper hand since Akshay Kumar is a big crowd-puller. Nobody should release a film opposite a big star’s film; it can affect your initial collection. Today, business is generated in the first three days. If the star’s film attracts the audience, the small film will get affected. But a small budget film like Vicky Donor has done good business, so I hope my film works too.
Ironically, Akshay and Paresh earned their comic chops with your Hera Pheri.
Yes. I am fighting against my own creation (laughs). But I am happy. It is a rat race; you don’t know who will win. After 86 films and 32 years in the business, the success or failure of a film doesn’t affect me like it did initially. Today, I am not scared whether I will survive. I am willing to take more risks. Content is of prime importance to me, because even if a film doesn’t work, someone shouldn’t ridicule me for making nonsense.
Bollywood News Service