Malayalam writer-director Priyadarshan who has made over 50 films in Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu and Hindi is one of the leading directors in India. He was in the news recently when the Kerala film producers and distributors association banned the screening of all his films in the state. The reason: Kerala Film Chamber President Siyad Kokker has accused Priyadarshan of remaking his film, Summer In Bethlehem, in Tamil without taking his permission or paying for the rights. But Priyadarshan had hit back saying that Lesa Lesa was a hotchpotch of various films including Summer In Bethlehem, for which he says he had taken Kokker's permission. He has added that even Summer In Bethlehem was a copy of Hollywood films like Fiddler On The Roof and Come September.
In this exclusive interview to Sify.com the prolific director speaks on the ban and his future plans. Excerpts:
Why did the Kerala Film Producers and distributors association in the state put a ban on your films?
It was an arbitrary decision taken by Siyad Kokker, which has tarnished my reputation as a film maker. All that I did was to introduce Vikram Singh, the producer of Lesa Lesa to Kokker and after that Vikram had paid partly in cash and a cheque for the remake rights that later bounced. Vikram did not pay my full remuneration and also some technicians. Then how can Kokker put the blame on me! Let him go and sue the producer. Why me?
Did this incident hurt you?
I was hurt as it was Malayalam industry that made me and there are still producers after me to do films. Recently the theatre association had questioned the ban on me and has assured that they will go ahead and screen my films.
Your last Malayalam film Kilichundan Mambazham was a flop. Please comment.
It was not a flop as the producer and distributors made their money. As far as criticisms go, I am told that people could not relate to the Muslim milieu and their language in the film. I had faithfully depicted the Muslim dialect and culture with good research.
Your latest Hindi film Hungama is a super hit. Congratulations!
Hungama is turning out to be the biggest hit of the year. In Mumbai circuit the distributors informed me that it has overtaken Chalte Chalte collections.
What made Hungama click?
Hungama was a lighthearted comedy caper. The audience could leave all their problems behind and have a good laugh. I feel it's easier to scare or thrill people than to make them laugh. I put a precondition for myself while making Hungama was not to complicate the plot or confuse the audience. My dialogue writer Neeraj Vora helped me with the casting. I think casting in a comedy is all-important. Everything fell into place and now the film is a hit.
What are your future plans?
Right now I am busy with an offbeat Tamil film based on the weavers in Kanchipuram. After that I will be doing a comedy in Hindi with a ‘big’ star, whose name I can’t reveal now.
So will you be directing another Malayalam film?
I have no intention to direct another Malayalam film in the near future.
Not even with your good friend Mohanlal?
Priyan might not direct a film with Mohanlal, but connoisseurs of good cinema will tell what a treat it is to watch a Lal-Priyan comedy! Let's hope we get to watch a blockbuster from the dream team, again!