Ace director Priyadarshan is riding a wave. His Mohanlal starrer Oppam in Malayalam is turning out to be a super hit and the Onam winner at the box-office.
The veteran director has made a huge comeback after going through a rough patch in the last few years. His offbeat Tamil film Sila Samayangalil, which deals with the issue of AIDS, has been selected for the prestigious 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards in Los Angeles. However his personal life has been much in speculation, after his wife of 24 years Lissy ended her marriage with him recently.
In an exclusive interview with Firstpost, Priyadarsan opens up on Oppam, bonding with Mohanlal and breaks the silence on his divorce. Congratulations,
Oppam has turned out to be the Onam box-office winner. How did you manage to pull it off?
It was a lot of hard work, writing a good script and living up to the trust Mohanlal had in me. For the last three years, I had been going through a bad patch professionally and it required a lot of effort from my part to come out of it. In fact Kamal Haasan called me up to congratulate me on the success of Oppam. He told me that when chips were down and personally I was going through turmoil, I could still concentrate on my work, as proved by the success of Oppam.
Would you say that you are one of the biggest survivors in Indian cinema, after doing nearly 80 films in Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu and Hindi as director and writer in a span of 33 years?
It is my love and passion for cinema that kept me alive. To be successful in modern times, one has to constantly reinvent. Everything in the world keeps changing; take a look at the way people romance today compared to 1983 when I started out. For Oppam, I had a new technical team in charge of music. The trailer cut of the film by Alphonse Puthran (Premam fame), also went a long way in popularising it.
Tell us about your long lasting bonding with Mohanlal?
We studied in the same school and come from the same locality and came to the industry around the same time. I have done almost 40 films with Lal as director and during the early days had written some scripts for him. Recently, he told me we should do 50 films together. Our relationship is based on trust. He has done films with me without reading the entire script.
There are rumours that you are going to remake Oppam in other languages and Kamal Haasan is doing it in Tamil. ?
I will not be directing the remake in any south Indian languages. A lot of offers have come for remake rights and negotiations are still going on.
Will you be directing the Hindi version with your favourite Akshay Kumar?
Yes, I will be directing the Hindi version. I want to show the film to Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan and then take a call regarding the casting. Anyway, Akshay will not be doing it though we are starting a film mid 2017 on an earlier agreed subject.
Tell us something about your new Tamil film Sila Samayangalil, which has been selected to be premiered at Golden Globes. ?
Sila Samayangalil is an AIDS awareness film. It has been made straight from the heart, like my earlier Kancheevaram. The film tells the story of eight characters coming from different walks of life at a pathology lab early in the morning to give their blood for an AIDS test. The anxiety and fear they undergo waiting for the results which come out in the evening is what the 92 minutes film will highlight.
The film has an array of fine actors like Prakash Raj, Nasser, Sriya Reddy, Asokh Selvan and others with background music by Ilayaraja, production design by Sabu Cyril and camera by Samir Thahir. The film will be premiered at Golden Globes in LA on 6 October.
What went wrong with your marriage with Lissy and the messy divorce that followed?
So far I had kept my silence on the matter. But after the divorce was granted last Friday, Lissy made some nasty remarks, which was not in good spirit. I guess after living in the same house for 24 years, we were on different pages. Anyway, my two children are with me and I feel life should go on as I'm now feeling more relieved and a lot more relaxed.