He first met Ang Lee as a student in Taipei and went on to produce his debut film as well as their magnum opus Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. And now veteran producer Hsu-Li Kong wants to make a film set in India, which he says is a treasure trove of stories.
On his maiden visit to the country, the Taiwanese producer says that he is fascinated by the many gods of India as well as the mundane details of the Indian way of life. "There is a story in every nook and cranny of the country, like the practice of packing lunches, India's tiffin box system.
The many gods and their legends. These are stories waiting to be told," said the 67-year-old who was in India to inaugurate a three day retrospective of his protege's films.Lee, who won the Best Director Oscar for Brokeback Mountain, is currently recceing for his next film, based on the novel Life of Pi, in Kerala and Pondicherry and Kong plans to follow in his footsteps. Kong, the former head of Central Motion Pictures Company, one of Taiwan''s largest production houses, says that he wants to produce an Indian film after seeing Slumdog Millionaire.
"I would definitely like to produce a film in India, the country is a filmmaker's dream. I saw Slumdog Millionaire and it was amazing," said Kong.
Meanwhile, Shahrukh Khan's popularity is soaring in his country, says Kong, with Om Shanti Om which was released in Taiwan on New Year''s Eve becoming a box-office hit. The producer, who is now mentoring new filmmakers in Taiwan with the help of Lee, vividly remembers his first meeting with the world renowned director.
"He walked into my Taipei office wearing jeans and a blue T-shirt. It was in 1980 and we still call each other up to discuss films," said Kong.
Since then, Lee has won two Oscars and three Independent Spirit Awards in the US, three Baftas in the UK, two Golden Bears in Berlin and two Golden Lions in Venice. Kong remembers that it was a phone call which led to their epic Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and became the highest-grossing Mandarin film in history.
"We were talking about Wuxia (martial arts) and decided to make a movie. I knew from the beginning that Lee could make a film that will bring together the spirit of Chinese legends and modern Western technique," said Kong.
I knew it would be a hit," he added.