Veteran filmmaker Priyadarshan says there are times he doesn’t like his own movies and hence prefers not to revisit them. “All these films are runaway hits that were accepted by the crowd and managed to recover their money within four days of release. That’s important. Today, I don’t think of what I made and how I made them. Once, a film is over, it’s over. Let’s think of the next.”
Priyadarshan has single-handedly given Hindi film fans a number of contemporary comedies including Hera Pheri, Hulchul, Bhagam Bhag, Malamaal Weekly, Chup Chup Ke, Bhool Bhulaiyaa, Khatta Meetha and others. He is now making a comeback to Bollywood after almost 8 years, with the sequel of one of his own hits, Hungama (2003).
“Even people at the airport or the security staff asked me when I was making my next comedy film. My producer Ratan Jain also wanted something. I thought when this is the kind of expectation, and since it is my forte, why shouldn’t I. But it took me 6-8 months to finish writing Hungama 2,” Priyadarshan said in an exclusive chat with indianexpress.com.
Hungama 2 is a “spiritual sequel” starring Shilpa Shetty, Paresh Rawal, Meezaan Jafri, Ashutosh Rana, Pranitha Subhash, and others. According to the director, its plot might be different from the first one, but the treatment is the same with similar situations.
But, directing Hungama 2 seemed contradictory to how he’s been staying away from helming the sequels of his other hit films like Hera Pheri 2 and Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2. He clarified, “I deliberately refused them. I thought the first is good and it should end there. But I don’t mind others making it. However, after I wrote Hungama 2’s script, I realised I didn’t want another director to do it.”
Hungama 2 brings back his frequent collaborators like Paresh Rawal, Rajpal Yadav, Manoj Joshi and Johnny Lever. He jokingly said, “I believe in known devils than unknown angels.” According to the director, Rawal’s role is on similar lines of his Radheshyam Tiwari, a suspicious husband in the first film, that leads to a lot of misunderstanding and funny situations.
Hungama 2 also marks the acting comeback of Shilpa Shetty. Priyadarshan revealed that she was his first choice to play Rawal’s wife when he was writing the script. “She was not doing any film. When I narrated her the story, she immediately showed enthusiasm. She was the right cast and we couldn’t think of anybody else,” he said.
This brings us to the song “Chura Le Dil Mera“, which has been recreated in Hungama 2. Priyadarshan refuted that it was a decision to follow the current trend. “I did it because it is one of my favourite songs and Shilpa has maintained herself so well. Best part was, she said, “when I did the original, this boy (Meezaan) wasn’t even born.” When you see the film, you’ll understand, it’s not just an item song. It’s a situational song.”
Priyadarshan has been a part of the business for over four decades. Now, when he works with young actors like Meezaan and Pranitha, what does he expect? “With newcomers, you have to take little extra care to make them understand what you mean. It’s easier with experienced actors. But with them, you have to put that one effort. That’s all. Otherwise, everything else is the same.”
From Anil Kapoor starrer Hindi film Virasat to Malayalam period drama Kaalapani, the filmmaker has worked across languages, genres and film industries, many a times remaking his own blockbusters, for example his Manichitrathazhu was made into Bhool Bhulaiyaa. Priyadarshan discussed how the audience sensibilities change from region to region and he manages to crack the code every time.
“When you make a serious film, you need to know the culture of the place where you’re placing it. But when you make humour, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, people will laugh at the same slapstick. There’s no need of culture there. Just make your ambience different and characters real. Adapt them according to the place even when sequences are the same. Actor shouldn’t look like a south Indian in a Bollywood film.”
Priyadarshan’s breed of cinema was at its peak in 2000s. Now when he directs, what according to him has changed? He says nothing, as people even today yearn for feel-good comedies that the family can sit and watch together. “I believe in laughter from the heart, and not double-meaning vulgar jokes. OTT today only shows crying and blood and sex. So families can sit together and watch Hungama 2 without any embarrassment. I’m giving them a wonderful medicine in this pandemic situation. Actually, I’m doing a social service by making them laugh with Hungama 2,” Priyadarshan said with a smile.
Priyadarshan has been a major name in cementing the careers of two superstars – Akshay Kumar and Mohanlal, with whom he’s had the most successful team-ups. Looking back at his collaborations, the filmmaker shared, “These two never ask me what I’m going to do. They’ll come to the set and won’t even wish to know the story. They’ll just ask for the scene. When they put that kind of a trust, I have a responsibility to give them back. That makes our films better.”
But what happens when he needs to cast for his remakes, and place someone, say Akshay Kumar in the same role done by Mohanlal? “Till today, I’ve not shown any Mohanlal film to Akshay which I’ve remade with him. Two people have their individual body language, my job is to see if they’re doing it right. If you try to imitate somebody, things won’t work out,” Priyadarshan revealed, adding that a new film with Akshay was in the pipeline which is expected to go on floors next year.
While Priyadarshan called National Award winning films Kanchivaram and Marrakar his two remarkable projects, he spoke on Marrakar’s impending release.
“It’ll release in theatre. Original is in Tamil and Malayalam and it has been dubbed in rest of the languages like Kannada, Telugu, Hindi and others. So in these two states (Tamil Nadu and Kerala) we are trying to get a no opposition that every theatre in the two states will only play Marrakar for 21 days. They are trying to release it on August 12 unless and until a new development happens, like a third wave or something,” he concluded.