Interview Govind Menon, producer of Hiss s, opens up about the film

D irector and film buff Govind Menon turns producer with Hisss . In an interview (e-mail and phone), the director of films such as Khwahish , Danger and Bachke Rehana Re Baba, talks about his latest film that has been directed by Jennifer Lynch. A great admirer of Stanley Kubrick and David Lynch, Govind says their ability to defy genres and make films that were trendsetters remains unique.

He feels that Hisss , which combines the myth of the Nagin with the nail-biting suspense of a thriller, is also a trendsetter. The Mallika Sherawat-starrer has a dubbed version in Malayalam. Shot extensively in the city and Thekkady, the film, a new version of the Hindi Nagin , has special effects by Robert Kurtzman who had worked in films like Predators, Vanilla Sky, Spy Kids and Hulk.

Over to Govind…

What is the story of Hisss?

It's about an American who dares to trespass on the snake goddess' sacred territory and kidnap her mate, with the intention of blackmailing her into surrendering the Nagmani (the stone of immortality) in exchange for her mate's life. She takes human form and leaves a trail of dead bodies filled with huge amounts of cobra venom, presenting a perplexing case for Detective Gupta (Irrfan Khan). And the chase is on. Hisss is the sound of vengeance…

The cast is an interesting mix of Bollwyood stars…

Mallika Sherawat plays the Nagin while Irrfan Khan is Vikram Gupta, the detective who is trying to solve the mysterious murders. Divya Dutta dons the role of his wife, Maya Gupta. Lakshmi Bai has been cast as Maji (Maya's Mother). Jeff Doucette (George States) and Raman Trikha (detective Navin) also feature in the film. I introduced the myth to Jennifer who was fascinated by it. She did a great deal of research on the topic and the film has been written and directed by Jennifer.

How did Jennifer come on board the film? Was she able to identify with the film and its theme?

I met Jennifer in Los Angeles after a writer friend, Trent Haaga, recommended her to me after seeing a preview of her last film, Surveillance. I watched the film and thought she had great potential and pitched her the idea. She was instantly hooked and I signed her on to write and direct it.

Hisss has been touted as a thriller with a mythical twist to it.

It's about female empowerment, the supernatural; it's a superhero genre-bender!

What is the relevance of such a film to contemporary viewers?

The West has Spiderman, Batman, Catwoman, vampires, werewolves and mermaids, we have the Nagin, and to our contemporary viewers it's as relevant as these characters are to their Western counterparts. All of them have been a part of pop culture for over half a century. In fact our character has been around since the Indus Valley Civilisation and continues to be worshipped.

What is Mallika's take on the film?

She's thrilled with her challenging and rewarding part, and dedicated over a year of her time to the film. She feels she was born to play this part.

What genre of film is Hisss?

It's really a genre-bender – It's a thriller, a supernatural film, an intense love story and an epic action adventure film.

Your next film….?

It's called Love, Barack and we have completed the shooting in Los Angeles and it stars Brian J. White, Ruby Dee, Jerry Bednob, Loretta Devine and Mallika. It's a romantic comedy set in the world of American politics. Two people who are campaign managers of the opposing candidates (Barack Obama and John McCain) fall in love a month before the elections and all hell breaks loose.

SARASWATHY NAGARAJAN

The West has Spiderman, Batman, Catwoman, Vampires, Werewolves and Mermaids, we have the Nagin, and to our viewers, it's as relevant as these characters Govind Menon

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