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Working to a professional script

``Producers line up at any hero whose last film is a hit and pay him a crore, sign him up for their next movie. Now, this chap will not give dates till he likes the story. After a while, he will get his own director to rewrite the story to suit his `image'. Now you tell me why that movie will not flop."

He is not what we expected to find. He's everything but a stereotype of what a producer in Kollywood is. Casually sporting jeans to go with a white shirt, he's ready for the interview at the designated time at his plush home on Boat Club Road, Chennai.

And he's a busy man. Self-admittedly, he has no time to simply socialise. ``Films are a creative process. They take all the time,'' Vikram Singh, the adventurous producer of 12B, tells Sudhish Kamath during the one and half hour long chat filled with anecdotes.

VIKRAM SINGH understands cinema. He is organised, works with a script and a schedule. What he does not understand is the film industry here.

``There were people who told me 12B didn't click because it is a youth movie, only for students. B and C centres wouldn't watch it. I think that if its a good film it should do well even in Timbuktoo. In America, it is simple to make a film. There is no weird theory there on `what would click'. Titanic, an English movie made in America, was liked and seen by more people in B and C than in A centres in India. So what happened to the `B and C will not understand' logic there,'' he asks.

And Vikram is further amused when producers tell him that their movies didn't do well because of September 11. ``They are seriously trying to tell me that B and C people didn't watch their movie because they were watching CNN's coverage. Or what kind of a movie have they made that people preferred watching TV,'' he laughs.

``Here many producers don't have a film background. Nor do they watch films. They don't understand films, but come up with their own theories on what sells. One youth movie does well, I have a queue of directors telling me ``Sir, youth subject''. Obviously, movies made on similar lines flop,'' Vikram Singh reasons.

He's appalled by the amount of mediocrity in our films today. ``There are actors who talk about their `image'. `I have an image. I am dark. I look like them. They react to it' is all rubbish. Arnold and Stallone have done comedy movies. And here where is the genre? When every movie has action, comedy, love story etc., where's the `image' in the movie,'' he asks.

There is no system in place, he laments.

``The industry runs on gossip. They say 12B left me in the doldrums and now I have gone broke. And here I am making a bigger film with none other than Priyadarshan, who has made 52 films before this, Shaam, the hottest hero around, India's best music director Harris Jeyaraj, four comedians in a full-length role--Vivek, Srinivasan, Innocent and Cochin Haniffa (all from the Malayalam film industry) and Trisha, who is the most happening debutante in Tamil film industry. Yes, I did lose money on 12B. But just a little. No regrets, we made a good film,'' says Vikram.

His forthcoming project with Priyadarshan is titled `Lesa Lesa' and the audio release is slated to happen early next month. ``The music for `Lesa Lesa' will clearly be the music of the year. Harris has done a stupendous job. For the first time here, I am releasing a `single' (multiple versions of the same song), a concept that's popular abroad. And guess what, it will be priced at twelve rupees. Ten days after that, I am releasing the audio with all the songs at a cheap rate. I won't make too much money. But I will ensure that pirates don't make any money,'' explains the man who introduced India to rock bands--the likes of Police and Jethro Tull before taking to theatre and then subsequently joined Boney Kapoor to produce films in the mid 90s.

Once `Lesa Lesa' is complete, Vikram Singh would get back to his stalled project `Achcham Thavir' starring Madhavan and Jyotika.

``We stalled it because we wanted to correct the script. We already shot 50 per cent of it. I could have gone ahead and completed it, released it and recovered investment too, but I believe that as a producer you have a responsibility to the audience and that you need to give it your best shot.''

``Thousands of people are going to watch it. Careers of at least 50 people depend on it. It has to be good. That's why not anybody can make a movie. It's not an easy job. It requires some amount of passion. I want to spend some more time on the script, correct it and improve it. Any American film goes through 6-7 rewrites. And here we don't have adequate writers or dialogue writers,'' Vikram laments.

``You can't leave anything to chance. Why I want to make a film is because I enjoy making films. And I want to make little money out of it, because of the time I spend on it''.

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