Drishyam is for today’s audience
Drishyam released this Friday. How do you feel?
(Cuts in with a smile) This is not my first film! But I’m curious to know how the audience will receive it. The audience has changed and their tastes are no longer what they were. They are looking for a change and are eager to watch content driven films. Drishyam is the kind of film that today’s audience is looking for.
A change in the audience is a good sign for the industry, isn’t it?
Yes. But that happens once in three or four years. I have been around for so many years and I’ve seen our audience evolving. And not just the audience but us filmmakers too. We’ve been trying to outdo ourselves with each movie that we make. What used to work with the audience doesn’t work now. We also need to respect the evolving audience and serve them what they want. That’s Drishyam!
You’re doing a film like this after a very long time, where your fans will not see you bashing up a villain.
Yes, I agree but they won’t be disappointed. I may not use my fists in the film but, eventually, it is my character that defeats everyone. I use my intelligence to play a cat-and-mouse with everyone in the film. The movie keeps you on your toes because of the character I play.
Don’t you think your audience will miss watching their hero?
Absolutely NOT! What’s the definition of ‘hero’? A hero saves his lady love, his family, his friends and people, and that’s what I am doing in Drishyam. I play a regular guy who emerges as a hero in the end. His only aim in the film is to safeguard his family. My character is a very simple guy who adores his family. His universe comprises his work and his family, and when his family is in trouble, he takes charge and eventually saves them. Now that’s what a hero does, either on screen on in real life. And that’s the USP of the film. So, from the kids to the young generation to older people, everyone will relate to my character in the film. That’s where the triumph of the screenplay lies.
The leading man in Drishyam is not weak; he is fighting the common man’s fight. The audience doesn’t accept Ajay Devgn playing a weak character. I have a certain image and it is very difficult to break that mould. But his style of fighting is very interesting. And everyone will fall in love with the character once he decides to fight for his family.
Coming back to your previous question… Yes, I am doing cinema like this after a long time. It’s not that I didn’t want to do content-driven movies; it’s just that I wasn’t getting the right script. I would like to add that I was the one who acted in hardcore commercial movies but also worked in hard-hitting, content-driven movies like The Legend of Bhagat Singh, Naajayaz, Zakham or Company, and I even backed Dil Kya Kare.
But everyone expects you to deliver a Rs 100-crore movie with every successive release.
I know, whether we accept it or not, as stars, we are always under pressure to deliver. And this pressure is created by us and the media hype when we deliver a Rs 100-crore movie. Earlier, we used to celebrate silver and golden jubilees; now it’s the Rs 100-crore club. While such films don’t always open well, they pick up with word-of-mouth. I am not at all worried about the fate of Drishyam. I just want to ensure that the audience watch it. Every film has its own merits and limitations. We need to judge a film by its investment. Drishyam may not take a gigantic opening but neither will collections nosedive once the initial craze subsides. When a film like Drishyam comes along, you just know it has to be a part of your life!
People often ask me why I don’t act in films like Zakhm any more or The Legend of Bhagat Singh. Now they are asking me ‘Why Drishyam?’ When I was doing successful commercial movies and also accepted films like Zakhm and The Legend of Bhagat Singh, they asked me the same question: ‘Why are you doing these movies?’ They received their answer when the movie released. The same thing happened on Friday. Everyone realised why I decided to do Drishyam. (Laughs)
Why are the promotions of the film almost low key?
Hype and publicity may work temporarily but content pays in the long run. When I decided to do Drishyam, I knew the kind of opening it would take. You see, when you get a script like Drishyam, all those box-office insecurities melt away because you know it will not get a great opening as it does not have masala, songs and the typical commercial elements that potboilers have. It’s a word-of-mouth film like Piku, which picked up after the third show. I am keeping my fingers crossed that Drishyam will do well from the first show. So there’s no need to go all out to promote the film.
Also, since the film is an edge-of-the seat movie, we didn’t want to give out too many details. We want the audience to come to cinemas and enjoy the movie. Our promotions don’t reveal much but, at the same time, they are generating curiosity and reminding them that this movie will release on July 31. The whole idea was to tell the audience that after a hiatus, Ajay Devgn is doing a content-driven film like he has always been doing. I think we have managed to convey that.
What kind of response are you receiving?
You are from the trade… why don’t you tell me what the buzz around the film is like. As soon as the trailer released, everyone began looking forward to the film. And there’s a lot of curiosity among the audience since you’re doing this kind of cinema after a long time.
Correct! Now that’s the response I too am getting. If I keep doing cinema like this, people won’t wait for my next. I need to serve up different movies to the audience. And since I’m doing a movie like this after a gap, there’s a hunger among the audience. I am told by the Viacom people that the response at their focus trial was great. There were people from all age groups and all of them loved the film. There was one screening in Delhi and one in Mumbai, and both received a tremendous response.
I am sure the film will be appreciated and the audiences will love Drishyam but I want them to go in from the first day. After a long time, there is no anxiety arising out of the Friday pressure because we know that Drishyam may not take a great opening. But I am trying my best to make even that happen. If a film likeDrishyam takes a big opening, it could change the face of cinema because people will attempt better films on these lines.
Since the film has already been made in the South, don’t you think there will be comparisons?
We compare a film when it is not at par with the original. I wouldn’t say that Drishyam is much better than the original but it is definitely at par with the original. And whoever has seen the Malayalam version, will be more than entertained watching our movie. Those who have watched the film will like to watch our version for their sheer love of the original. And people who have not watched the original would watch it to experience this beautiful cinema called Drishyam.
In a recent interview, Tabu said that her first successful film was with you, and now she’s working with you after a long time.
(Laughs) I know she said that. She is an old friend. The film is a cat-and-mouse game between Tabu and me. I don’t know who thought of casting Tabu but it was a masterstroke.
After watching the film I can say that no actor other than Tabu could have had carried this role the way she has. She’s fantastic in the film.
Her performance is one of the key reasons the film is as entertaining as it is.