Hollywood filmmaker of Indian origin, Manoj Night Shyamalan of The Sixth Sense fame, is upbeat about his upcoming sci-fi film, After Earth. The 42-year-old, who has in the past worked with Hollywood stalwarts Bruce Willis and Joaquin Phoenix, has this time worked with actor Will Smith and his son Jaden. The acclaimed auteur shares more in an interview over the phone from London.
You were also interested in making Life of Pi, seven years ago. Now that you have seen (filmmaker) Ang Lee’s version, do you think your take on the film would have been different?
Yes, definitely. Though Lee did a wonderful job, I think my film would have been different from his version. Different perspectives, I guess. When I was approached to do the film, I wanted more time. The production house wanted me to do it right away, but I’m sure they had their reasons. It took them six years to find another director.
What is your opinion about Bollywood?
Ha ha! I have a confession. I am not well-versed with Bollywood at all. I don’t watch that kind of cinema, except when my wife gets home some DVDs. But again, I don’t have much opinion about the films or the actors in it, because I don’t know.
Back in 2001, rumours were rife that you wanted to make Indiana Jones: 4 with Steven Spielberg. Now that Indiana Jones 5 is in the pipeline, do you think you would like to give it a shot again?
Wow (laughs). That was a long time ago, but yeah I remember both George (Lucas, creator of Star Wars) and Steven (Spielberg) came up to me with the film and asked me if I wanted to direct it. But then I remember I was caught up with a lot of other things and I had to say no.
Do you think After Earth will make an impact in India?
Yes, I think a massive impact! Apart from the post-apocalyptic scenario in the film, what also plays a pivotal role in the film is the father-and-son relationship. In India, the family system is brilliant and I really think that aspect of the relationship will appeal to Indian audiences.
How was it working with the Smith family?
It was great, they are all very professional and wonderful human beings as well . Will (Smith) is from Philadelphia too, so both, the Smith family and the Shyamalan family, are now friends.
More on Shyamalan
Birth name: Manoj Shyamalan. He adopted ‘Night’ as his second name while studying in New York University, from where he graduated in 1992.
Age: 42 years
Birth place: Mahé, Puducherry
Lives in: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
Claim to Fame: The Sixth Sense, Signs, The Village and Unbreakable
Net worth: $50 million (Rs 278 crore)