From Shaitaan to David, Solo and his last release Taish, filmmaker Bejoy Nambiar has a penchant towards making dark, gritty thrillers. But his upcoming film Edhiri, which is a part of Navrasa, an anthology which will soon be streaming on Netflix, is in a genre which the filmmaker has never attempted before. Presented and produced by Mani Ratnam, Navrasa will see a collaboration between some of the most prominent directors, who have made nine short films based on the nine ‘rasas’.
Nambiar points out that he was one of the first directors to come on board, “Mani sir told me which is the emotion I’d like to choose and make a film on. I’d just finished making a film on rage so my immediate reaction was to take up the emotion of anger. I was coming out of Taish which dealt with anger so it was a knee jerk reaction," he says, adding, “Two days later, I got a call that Arvind Swami had taken anger (laughs). In a way I am happy it didn’t work out. I decided to take up compassion which was diametrically opposite to anger. I think it helped me explore something that I had not attempted in the past and bring me out of my comfort zone. It gave me the confidence to explore and pursue these kind of stories in the future."
Edhiri is written by Ratnam, something that the filmmaker feels was like a big icing on the cake, “I have been working with Madras Talkies and Mani (Ratnam) sir from the time I started my career, but I have never worked with him in the capacity of producer and director so this was really special for me. What made it more special was the fact that this is a story which is written by him so it couldn’t get better than that."
Ask him if he felt an additional pressure and Nambiar says, “I was fortunate to work with Amitabh (Bachchan) in Wazir. During that time I realised if I allow myself to feel the pressure, I won’t be able to function. It was similar with Navrasa. My priority was to do justice to the script because that would also mean that I’d do justice to his vision. Also, I take the entire screenplay apart and we kept making many drafts and he jumped on the bandwagon with me. And I love the fact that he was so collaborative as he had another eight filmmakers to deal with. I consider myself fortunate to be a part of this project which has some of the best talents."
Nambiar’s film will see a stellar cast of Revathy, Prakash Raj and Vijay Sethupathi. The filmmaker says that it was his decision to choose these actors, “All three actors wanted to be a part of this initiative and when I approached them, they promptly agreed. I guess I duly attributed to the fact all three actors connected to the story. I bounced off many names to Mani sir but never did he have to pick up the call and speak on behalf of me."
According to the filmmaker it is unbelievable what they have done to the script, “They are all generous actors. The kind of experience and expertise that they bring along, just elevates the entire film. It was such a pleasure working with all of them. We shot the entire film in four days and in the end, I was wondering why couldn’t I shoot with them for a longer duration."
The filmmaker reveals that part from acting, Sethupathi has also contributed to the film as a dialogue writer, “The original dialogue draft was done by writer called M K Mani and my associate Vignesh Shrikant but not many know that we did an entire overhaul and the last draft was written by Vijay Sethupathi. I spent a week jamming with Vijay for his role and I started enjoying the process so much that we discussed all the scenes. He started giving me options of dialogues for every scene. I really liked the idea and I started recording and writing the points that he was sharing. He also came up with couple of ideas for the screenplay which was not a part of the initial script. So it was really an enriching experience and helped me shape the film better."
Nambiar’s filmography also indicates a penchant for making multi-starrer films, which, the actor says is not easy to pull off, “There are various reasons including the fact that not many actors are comfortable with two and three hero films. Apart from the comedy genre, convincing producers for an ensemble especially isn’t easy. Also, as storytellers, we need to explore stories which require more actors to come together.”
In an earlier interview, Nambiar had mentioned that it is tough to convince producers and actors to be a part of the stories he want to say and one of the reason he points out is the commercial success, “Even though most of my films have been appreciated by the audience, got critical acclaim and decent box office success, but I guess it hasn’t met the commercial success that I believe most producers would look at. If I had a Rs 100 crore film to my name, it would be easy to convince the producers for my next project."
He agrees that it is sad reality that the standing of a filmmaker is measured by the commercial success of a film. “I have accepted the reality. I’ll keep fighting. At least I am making the films that I want to make. When I look around, I see so many filmmakers succumb to the pressure and do something that they aren’t comfortable with. I want to be creatively satisfied and be happy with what I do."