Bharat Bala is confident that his upcoming Dhanush-starrer Maryan will strike a chord with audiences across the world as it is about the human will to survive. Udhav Naig catches up with the filmmaker.
It is hard to miss the index cards stuck on the wall inside Bharat Bala’s office. I ask him if those belong to his yet-to-be-released Dhanush-starrer Maryan. He answers in the affirmative.
Widely used in the West, index cards are nothing but a two to three line description of every scene in the screenplay that screenwriters use to keep track of their narrative. “I like to use index cards when I write my screenplays. It helps me,” he says.
“I have always wondered why Tamil films aren’t made for a global audience,” he says, adding, “A number of films made in countries such as Japan, Brazil, Europe and America are immensely popular. How are they able to connect with audiences around the world? Perhaps the key is to adopt global narrative strategies to attract a wider audience.”
How does Maryan, a Tamil film featuring a regional star like Dhanush, fit into his way of thinking? “The film is about the human will to survive, which, I believe, will strike a chord with audiences anywhere in the world,” he says. A film about the struggles of a poor migrant Tamil worker in a foreign country is perhaps not something that could potentially fill the coffers in Tamil Nadu. How did he manage to bring a big star like Dhanush on board this project? “I think Dhanush was waiting for a film that would challenge him as an actor. Once I narrated the script, he was sold on it,” he says, adding, “The same goes for the producer as well, who, I must say, is always looking to invest in new ideas.” But while reaching out to global audiences, isn’t there a possibility of ignoring the sensibilities of local audiences? “The film is culturally rooted in Tamil Nadu,” he says categorically, before going on to add, “A film made within a cultural milieu should first work in that market. Otherwise, what’s the point?”
Ask him about his other ambitious film The 19 Step which was supposed to star Kamal Haasan and the Japanese star Tadanobu Asano, and he says, “The Indo-Japanese venture failed to take off due to creative differences. I will definitely do it sometime in future.” What’s next for this filmmaker? “I will pick one script from the five I have developed, just like how I did for Maryan a year back, and I will see if it holds my attention,” he smiles.