Critical appreciation be damned. Priyadarshan wants to make films for the masses. Even if it’s about the construction mafia (Khatta Meetha with Akshay Kumar and Trisha) or the stigma attached to inter-caste marriages(untitled film with Ajay Devgn, Bipasha Basu and Akshaye Khanna) Priyan will speak in the language of the common man.
And why not? De Dana Dan is a big hit even in Pakistan where it’s running to packed houses in a theatre with shows from 9 am to 2 am. Priyan says the romantic rain song with Akshay and Katrina which had been edited for reasons of length will be restored in the prints from Saturday.
Now after the warm reception accorded to De Dana Dan even the film on AIDS with Aamir Khan which was meant to be a stark song less look at the subject will be presented by Priyan in a way that’s palatable to the public.
”And why not?” Priyan shoots back. ”Films are meant to generate a mass reaction. No point in making a film with one of the biggest stars of the country which only a handful of people want to watch.”
The critical response to Priyadarshan’s new comedy has left the prolific director feeling disillusioned with the critics and hell-bent on pursuing the commercial idiom.
”Some of them have commented on how massy it is. Others have said they couldn’t follow the plot. Even my driver was able to follow what was going on.”
Taking a deep breath Priyan says, ”I’ve never made films for critics. Even my so-called artistic ones like Kaala Paani and Kanchivaram for a mass audience. Today commercial success is more important for the survival of our film industry than ever before. Don’t critics want films to do well? Don’t they want the industry to make money so the movie business can get back on its feet? If audiences want to watch happy films who is going to stop them?”
Priyan says he’ll continue to make the films that connect with the audience. ”I’m a film buff. I understand world cinema. I know about Fellini, Ray and Godard. And Satyajit Ray is one of my favourite directors. But I also understand about the film market. We can’t make the films that audiences don’t come to see.”
So what would Priyan’s future equation with his creativity be? ”Very simple. I will make the films I believe in. I’ve attained success in arthouse and mass cinema. I’ll make what comes naturally to me. Not the films that critics want me to make. I believe in every frame of De Dana Dan. If some critics haven’t liked it at least they should’ve the grace to admit the common man loves it. Say, you don’t like. But don’t make up your mind for the masses, please!”
Without losing his cool Priyan says, ”I don’t claim to be a great filmmaker. But please take a long hard look at my body of work. Just see how many of my films have connected with the audience. Don’t dismiss De Dana Dan just because it doesn’t match your sensibility.”