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'In films like De Dana Dan, I'm telling a lie'

Last updated on: November 25, 2009 18:54 IST

'In films like De Dana Dan, I'm telling a lie'


Patcy N in Mumbai

After 79 movies and 26 years in the industry, Priyadarshan has become one of the biggest names in direction. While he's known to make serious National award-winning movies like Kanchivaram in Tamil, he prefers to stick to the path well trodden in Bollywood. This week, yet another comedy will be released from his stable.

De Dana Dan stars the Hera Pheri team of Akshay Kumar, Suniel Shetty and Paresh Rawal. Katrina Kaif adds to the cast of over 28 actors.

Priyan -- as he is known in film circles -- talks to Patcy N about his new movie and tells us what to expect.

What made you think of re-uniting with the Hera Pheri team again in De Dana Dan?
Hera Pheri has become a cult comedy. Somebody exploited it and made Phir Hera Pheri. I could have made part three but I did not want to continue with that. I had fun working with the team so I decided to work with them again.

De Dana Dan's script is complicated. There's so much confusion in a single scene that if you sneeze while watching the film, you will miss a connection.

There are 28 characters in the film. The complications increase as the pace of the film increases. I wanted to maintain the pace and comic timing. That's why I wanted to work with people I have worked with before.

And I knew that people would accept the team because of its past record. All my films with Akshay have done well. That's why he's in my films.

Why didn't you work with them earlier?

I didn't have a subject for them before.

Is De Dana Dan like a sequel to Hera Pheri?

No. It's a full-length entertainer like Hera Pheri. Only the signature dance step is the same, nothing else.

Were you upset that someone else directed Phir Hera Pheri (Neeraj Vora)?

Yes, I was. I did not like the film.

Image: Katrina Kaif and Akshay Kumar in De Dana Dan. Inset: Priyadarshan


'I make films for children, not intellectuals'

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How difficult is it to make a film like De Dana Dan?

Very difficult. Because it is fast-paced. I've added songs to lessen the pace or else you would need a lot of concentration to watch it.

De Dana Dan is a very interesting film -- like the old French film, Blame it On The Bell Boy. When I first wrote Hungama in Malayalam -- called Poochakkoru Mookuthi -- I had adapted it from the play, The Stranger in the Night. That was adapted from a Charles Dickens book. Dickens always takes situations, makes them complicated and then straightens it up. This is the technique I have used in all my films.

There is no story in De Dana Dan -- just comical situations.

Why is your comedy always slapstick?

I do slapstick as well as situational comedy. Slapstick comedy alone will not work because after a certain level, it looks like buffoonery. Situational comedy enhances slapstick. That's what I have learnt over the years. I make films for children, not intellectuals. Intellectuals can watch Kanchivaram.

Image: A scene from De Dana Dan

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'Katrina got injured shooting the climax of De Dana Dan'

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What made you do a comedy like De Dana Dan after making a serious National Award-winning film like Kanchivaram?

I'm clear about the reasons why I make films. When I made Kanchivaram, I wanted to show India internationally, and be true to what had happened in this place called Kanchivaram. I have so many gurus in art cinema like David Lynch and Shyam Benegal. So when I make films like Kanchivaram, I don't make mistakes. I want people to identify with the characters. Making an art film is easy. I am not thinking about profit, I am thinking about the subject.

When I make films like De Dana Dan, Hungama and Malamaal Weekly, I am telling a lie to people. But they enjoy that lie. I'm happy that I can make both kinds of people happy by making both kinds of movies. When I make films like De Dana Dan, I have to be manipulative. I have to think what people will like and what will make them laugh. It's very difficult to make a good comedy; there are so many comedies playing every week. When I make a comedy, I don't want people to identify with the characters. My guru is Manmohan Desai. He always put the correct ingredients at the right places.

Apparently the last scene in De Dana Dan involves a Tsunami.

That was the most challenging scene I'd shot. There were about 40 people, including the lead cast, getting washed down from the 34th floor of a hotel to the lobby. We used miniatures of the sets and shot in it. Then we shot in a water tank. We used real footage of Tsunamis and shot in a real hotel as well. Red Chillies and (art director) Sabu Cyril has done excellent special effects.

A few people got hurt when they were washed down. Katrina got injured badly.

Image: A scene from De Dana Dan

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'Akshay is not my friend'

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How has the Hera Pheri team improved since then?

They have improved tremendously, especially Akshay Kumar. He has become a complete actor.

Charlie Chaplin is the best actor in the world, as making people laugh is the most difficult thing. Akshay has now reached a stage where he does comedy without buffoonery. Akshay is a compensation of Mohanlal in Bollywood.

Akshay is known to interfere in the editing process to make his role better. Has he done that in your films?

In my movies, the actors don't know what they do till the end. In De Dana Dan, Akshay did not know what he was doing until he was dubbing for it. He shows that kind of trust in me. John Abraham did not say anything about his role being chopped in Garam Masala.

Your last Hindi film Billu did not do well. Is Akshay your lucky mascot?

Not only Akshay, my films with Akshaye Khanna also do well. Look at Hungama and Hulchul. The name Akshay might be lucky for me.

I did 42 films with Mohanlal and I rate him as the best actor. I don't think anyone can break that record.

Malamaal Weekly with Riteish Deshmukh has been my biggest hit in Bollywood. So there's no guarantee about which film will do well. Once Amitabh Bachchan had said that if Salim-Javed had not written great scripts for him, he would not have become a big actor.

How is your rapport with Akshay Kumar?

Akshay is not my friend. We don't meet up or celebrate with each other. Once I finish a film with Akshay, I meet him next when I have to make my next film. I don't even call him. It's the same with Shah Rukh Khan. I have met Salman a couple of times at his house. I don't belong to any camp; I work with everyone.

Image: A scene from De Dana Dan

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'I thought Bhagam Bhag would not do well but it worked'

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What are your expectations from De Dana Dan?

It will be a superhit. After 79 movies and 26 years in the industry, I don't care if a film becomes a hit or not. I know which film will do well and which won't. But sometimes I go wrong too. I thought Bhagam Bhag would not do well but it worked. I thought Kyon Ki would work but it failed.

Some films like Doli Sajaa Ke Rakhna were not good.

I get jealous when somebody makes a film better than me. But I really adore them. When I watch films like A Wednesday or Jab We Met, I always call the makers and wish them.

When will your film on AIDS start?

I am talking to Aamir about that. I have to send him the script. Since it's not confirmed yet, I cannot talk about it yet.

Why don't you make films like Kanchivaram in Hindi?

You cannot make films like that in Hindi because there is no audience or money for it. The literacy rate in West Bengal and Kerala is high; people watch such kind of cinema there. Parallel cinema is made for a certain kind of audience. Films screened at the Cannes film festival will never become superhits in America. Adoor Gopalakrishnan and Shyam Benegal have achieved name in international level but not everyone can make such movies.

What next?

I'm doing a serious film with Ajay Devgn and Akshaye Khanna. It's about the killings in North India.

Image: A scene from De Dana Dan

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