catches up with director Priyadarshan who takes him onto a unique journey into the filming of his latest venture set in the 1920s -
Is Kanchivaram your way of showing your detractors that you are not just about laughs?
The movie is set in 1920s dealing with the irony of communism — how silk weavers weave yards and yards of silk but can’t afford a single Kanchivaram sari. It’s a very realistic film. I wanted to make it nine years ago but no producer would support me. This time, I fought with them and went for it.
Can you tell me about a poignant moment during the filming?
When a Kanchivaram silk weaver has a daughter, he promises her that he will get her a silk sari for her wedding. And for 18-20 years, every day he steals bits and pieces of silk or works harder than usual for that promise.
Have you ever gifted your wife a Kanchivaram saree?
(Laughs) She buys herself so many saris that I never get the opportunity to gift her anything.
What about this film vis-à-vis the box office?
This movie is not made for the box office. I have already received my biggest award. Shyam Benegal wrote a letter to me saying that he felt my film was like a Tolstoy or Victor Hugo story. I have framed that letter.
Like Kanchivaram, Singh is Kinng and Firaaq were also selected for the Toronto festival. What do you think about them?
My movie is the only one that has been invited and is a prestigious one. Those movies you are talking about are getting themselves screened.
Kanchivaram has even been invited by the Berlin and Bhutan film festivals. I am very proud of the movie. Most of your recent movies except Bhool Bhulaiya haven’t worked at the box office. According to the trade magazines, I have made Rs 150 crore for the industry. I am at the top amongst all directors today. All the rest — the biggest directors — are below me. Moreover, I am happy that only my comedies are working and the rest like Sunday are not.
You didn’t direct the sequel to Hera Pheri. Is there a sequel you’d like to make?
I may make Malaamal Weekly 2 but that won’t be a sequel. I am also making a film with the Hera Pheri team of Akshay Kumar, Suniel Shetty and Paresh Rawal for Venus. There is another team which is working on a Hera Pheri sequel, so I don’t know who will name the movie Hera Pheri 3.
You made the original of Kuselan in Malayalam which you are now remaking as Billoo Barber in Hindi. The Tamil version of Kuselan hasn’t done well so what do you expect from Billoo Barber?
I have already gotten into trouble talking about Billoo Barber.. my producers have banned me from saying another word.
There is talk that you are doing a remake of Children of Heaven with Darsheel Safary?
I haven’t done the script for that yet. I may set the backdrop as Assam for the movie. I am currently watching its Chinese remake.
You want to direct films on AIDS and female infanticide, isn’t it?
From now, every year I will make a serious film. So my next film will be on one of those subjects.
Are you making such films only for the festivals?
These films are only for Priyadarshan. They will not appeal to the masses. I am not worried about that.
So where will you find producers?
A lot of producers have already come in to support me. If Kanchivaram is appreciated a little at Toronto, it will end up making much more money than any blockbuster here.
Aren’t you looking to do films down south now?
I don’t want to do any film down there. There is no budget there. I want to stay here and make films here.