Writer-director Amal Neerad has every reason to feel deliriously happy, as his latest Malayalam release Anwar has begun its run with whopping initials.
The film starring Prithviraj, Prakash Raj and Mamta Mohandas handles the sensitive issue of Islamic terrorism. The director has succeeded in packaging it as a highly engrossing film.
In a candid interview, exclusively for rediff.com, Amal talks about Anwar and more. Excerpts:
Anwar had one of the best initial collections in Malayalam ever. Were you expecting such a response?
Anwar has made more money than films like Endhiran did on the first day in Kerala. Of course, we did expect a good opening considering the expectations that the viewers had about a film starring Prithviraj as the hero and me as the director.
But then Anwar, which is a commercial entertainer, had to compete with the likes of Endhiran which was reportedly made with an Rs 162 crore budget. Imagine, we have spent almost Rs 158 crore less [smiles]. But the response has been nothing less than fabulous. The reports from every centre including remote centers have been fantastic.
How did you come up with Anwar?
The basic idea came to me during the September 11 attacks in the US. Later, such things affected us all much more when the Mumbai attacks happened. I thought of the innocent victims. That is how Anwar came about.
How different is Anwar from your earlier films Big B and Sagar Alias Jackie-Reloaded?
The earlier two were "cinema-cinemas", while Anwar is more realistic [laughs]. Now I don't know if that is a convincing answer to your question.
Does that mean Anwar has a more genuine storyline?
See, we have been going behind the so-called films with storylines and may be due to the great focus on that, the young generation refuses to go to the theatres to watch conventional dramas. Instead, they have shifted their attention to other languages. What I am saying is as important as how I am saying it. I agree that some part of the storyline here has been dealt with in the past in various other films like Infernal Affairs, The Departed, Traitor, Sathya or Pokkiri.
Some say Anwar has been inspired by Traitor?Frankly, I hadn't even seen Traitor when I went to meet Prithviraj for the first time with the story idea of Anwar. I thought of the plot when I saw Ram Gopal Varma's film Sathya. The protagonist, Sathya, goes to jail and comes out as Don Bhiku Mhatre's confidant. In the story, Sathya's past events in his life has not been dealt with. But I tried to make a story out of it.
Like, what if he had a secret enmity with Bhiku and while joining his gang, actually his aim was to take on the don as well. These thoughts were in my mind while the story of Anwar was being developed. In that way, the story could have been inspired from films like Sathya or Pokkiri more than Traitor [smiles].
How different was the experience of directing the three big stars of Malayalam cinema -- Mammootty, Mohanlal and Prithviraj -- in your three films?All three are brilliant actors. Mammootty and Mohanlal are legends already and Prithviraj is, let's say, a legend in the making. Even at this young age, he is hugely experienced and successful.
It was wonderful working with Mammootty and Mohanlal. Since Prithviraj is a youngster, working with him was even easier as I could vibe really well and make him work harder [laughs].
Looks like Anwar is going to be a super hit going by the initial responses to it. How do you feel?
Obviously, I am delighted. Everyone says this is my best film and I feel happy to hear that as well.
There have been talks that Prakash Raj had a rather brief role in the film. Was the character conceived so originally?
Yes, it was written in this way itself. In fact that is the reason why we wanted Prakash Raj to do the role. It is only because Prakash Raj is doing it that the character creates the impact that we wanted. He has done a brilliant job in Anwar.
Have you started thinking about your next film?
Let me sit back and watch the response to Anwar for now. I will think about my next film some time later.
SOURCE : http://movies.rediff.com/slide-show/2010/oct/18/slide-show-1-south-interview-with-writer-director-amal-neerad.htm
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