'Freida balances out the swords and blood'
Indian-born director Tarsem Singh speaks on why Freida Pinto was the appropriate choice opposite ‘Superman’ Henry Cavill in his $100 million Greek epic fantasy that opens this Friday. So was it the ‘Indian connect’ that bagged the Slumdog Millionaire star the coveted role in the Hollywood extravaganza?hollywood Updated: Nov 09, 2011 15:34 IST
This Friday, Freida Pinto’s Immortals takes on Ranbir Kapoor’s Rockstar. Interestingly, the director of the Greek epic fantasy, in which Freida plays the role of an oracle priestess, is Indian-born Tarsem Singh. So was it the ‘Indian connect’ that bagged the Slumdog Millionaire (2003) star the coveted role in the Hollywood extravaganza?
Tarsem insists that’s not true. The story, he points out, is driven by the three larger-than-life figures of King Hyperion, a half-mad warrior bent on conquering the world, Theseus, who’s set on destroying Hyperion and avenging his mother’s death; and Zeus, the ruler of Mount Olympus and the ultimate authority among the gods of ancient Greece.
“There is a lot of action and lots of men, to counter which we needed a calming antidote… An element that balanced out the swords and blood… Phaedra, who possesses the power of clairvoyance, provides that. And since she knows everything already, there’s no unsettling curiosity in her,” explains the director. He admits that he wanted his Phaedra to be exotic as compared to the other people in her world. And since the story is set in Greece, many would expect her to be Greek too.
“But Freida looks phenomenal, and is dedicated and professional. She felt like the most natural part of the movie. There was no question that we wanted her,” he asserts.
Tarsem was equally sure of Henry Cavill for Theseus, even though the actor had lost the chance to be a part of films like Batman, Superman Returns and Quantum of Solace, stirring the studio’s apprehensions. “What can I say about Henry?” he marvels. “I tried him left, right and center. I would switch the script and he’d still read it right. I wanted an eight-pack, and Henry was a little pudgy when I met him a year ago. But now he’s looking so great that he has women screaming for him all over. He’ll make a super Superman.”
The film was initially titled Dawn Of War and War Of Gods. What made him decide on Immortals? “I think it’s becoming a trend with me,” laughs Tarsem. “The Snow White Project has recently been titled Mirror Mirror. In the case of Immortals, the previous titles lacked something. Immortals was crisp and addressed the theme bang on. If it’s a war, someone will be defeated. But how do you defeat an Immortal?” Quiz him about his interest in Greek mythology and he laughs again, “I’m not particularly interested, it just happens to be the thing that allows me to make a $100 million movie.
The myth of Theseus is loosely taken and it could have been in any ancient world. It just ended up being Greek.”
From music videos to a mythological epic, it’s been an eventful journey. Says Tarsem, “I’m like a prostitute in love with my profession. But while others like the prefiguring and the editing process, I’m the only moron who loves being on a set. I shoot more than 300 days a year and am on the road all the time.”