Q. Tell us a bit about Kanchivaram? A. See basically Kanchivaram has an irony to it. The film is the story of an irony. Kanchivaram silk is the world’s longest lasting silk. It’s said that it can even survive for more than 600 years in any climate without damp. And amongst all this the tragedy or the irony is that a man who weaves 20000 meters of silk in his life span will never be able to wear one or gift to some other individual.
Despite giving so many blockbusters, it would be the first time that director Priyadarshan will walk the red carpet for any of his film. His Tamil film Kanchivaram has been selected for official screening at the Toronto Film Festival. Rajan Singh talks to him.
Tell us a bit about Kanchivaram?
See basically Kanchivaram has an irony to it. The film is the story of an irony. Kanchivaram silk is the world’s longest lasting silk. It’s said that it can even survive for more than 600 years in any climate without damp. And amongst all this the tragedy or the irony is that a man who weaves 20000 meters of silk in his life span will never be able to wear one or gift to some other individual.
In Hinduism especially in South, there is a belief that a man needs silk twice in his life. Once when he gets married, for the purity of the relationship and the other when the person dies to take your soul to heaven. And both the time many weavers are not able to fulfil it so what they do is that they tie the mangalsutra with a thread of silk and during the time of death the toe with a thread of silk. And this is the only thing they can afford. So actually after the creator of this silk is done with his task he would never be able to see his creation as to how it looks like. The film talks about a weaver who got married with no silk on his wedding day, so on the day his daughter is born he makes a promise to her that he will marry her with a silk saree. This remained just a dream for him. The communism came to India through trade unions and later on through mill culture. The father later on becomes one such trade leader. The only reason the world over communism took a back seat was because of the fact that it never kept pace with the change. An idea is a failure only because the preacher never practices and thus the film is called Kanchivaram - The Confession of a Communist. Later a clash happens between his personal dream promised to his daughter and the promise he gave to his disciple in the capacity of a leader. I have taken a satirical approach. This thought inspired me to make this film.
Judging by the premise of the story, it seems you have been heavily inspired by short stories of Premchand and O Henry.
Exactly what you said is right. I used to read a lot stories by O Henry and Somerset Maugham. The script for this film was there with me for the past nine years and I always wanted to make a film based on this subject. But I being a commercial filmmaker no one was actually interested in making a film on this subject. They often said that they wouldn’t be able to make money because of this subject. That was the attitude I encountered. I really thank Shailendra Singh from PPC in believing my subject.
You just mentioned that the film is a satire on communism, aren’t you afraid of protests from communist parties?
The film has got nothing to do with communism. I have never ever said through my film that communism is good or bad. I am not an anti-communist neither a socialist nor a capitalist. I have only done an analysis of an ideology. The theme is equally and practically applicable to socialism and capitalism. The basic thing only being that the leaders, who preach the ideology, never practice it. Then how can an ideology become successful in that case and this is what I am trying to tell through this film of mine. Look at the way China has adapted and transformed itself. They are not sticking to the original manifesto, they have evolved. Those who are not willing to change are the ones who are suffering.
You would also be walking the red carpet for the first time in your film career.
See I have never made a realistic film. I have only made commercial films in my career. I was playing for the gallery all this while and then I decided that let me play once for myself and that’s why I made Kanchivaram. Bollywood is for money and Chennai is for recognition. I have never been to any film festival before. I will surely try catch as many film as possible at the festival. It was always a dream for me to walk the red carpet.
Did you show your film to anyone from the film industry?
See I am very happy at the fact that this was the only film selected for a red carpet World Premiere. It’s a matter of prestige for any film maker if his or hers film goes to the Toronto film festival. I don’t know how good or bad film it is but deep down within I am sure that I have made a good film. Govind Nihlani and Shyam Benegal were the two people whom I showed this film after it was completed. After Shyam Benegal saw the film, few days later he sent me a long nice letter, which gave me lots of courage. I love making such kind of films at heart but at the same time I enjoy myself being a commercial filmmaker. I believe that a filmmaker can fluctuate between both the genres. I believe in every kind of film. Now I have true to myself for once. At least now people won’t say that I only make remakes.
Have you tried gauge the interest level of people towards this film?
The biggest plus point about Kanchivaram is about the mileage the film has got. It has got mileage only because I am a successful commercial filmmaker. Had any rank newcomer made this film, I am sure; he would not have got such a mileage. I can see lots of interest among people about this film. They have said this often to me that they want to see this film as soon as possible. I don’t belong to any genre of filmmaking. I always try put realism even in my commercial films.
It seems you are enjoying the patronage of most of the camps of Bollywood.
I am lucky that I am getting opportunities to work both with SRK and Akshay Kumar. They are the stars of today and fortunately I know these stars. It has helped me a lot in making my commercial ventures. I have never been part of any camp in my entire film career and that’s so because they all have been very good to me. Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar and Govinda have been very nice to me and now I am encountering the same feeling from SRK. After I am done with the shooting of my film, though I may not be great friends with them but I give them respect and take respect from them. May be I don’t get time to be in Mumbai and so I don’t time to move around with them.
You have also once famously said that you are sick and tired of running behind stars. What made you come out with such a statement?
See, I have met many stars, many times, trying to tell them stories of my forthcoming films. In the first instance they listen to me and agree but post that they never revert back or reply back to me. You are almost relegated to a state of darkness. I have suffered this many times and so the whole effort and exercise gets wasted and then I have to approach another star. I went through this phase many times in my career. But nothing succeeds like success.
You had a fall out with Akshay Kumar post Bhool Bhulaiya release.
Akshay and me? Never. I am starting a film with him in the month of October. The film is titled Dhan Dhana Dhan.
Tell us a bit about the film (Billoo Barber) you are busy making currently for SRK?
It’s going to be my best film till date. But the only thing is that Mr. SRK has instructed me not to speak about the film. He wants to present the film in a nice way and will speak to media at the opportune time. I guess there was some negative news published about the film in some newspaper and that’s why he instructed us not to speak about the film to anyone.
Lastly, when do you plan to make your next film on the lines of Kanchivaram?
Most probably it would be next year. That film will have AIDS as its core issue. We are working on the script.