CHAT Director Siddique has struck gold in Bollywood with his Hindi debut Bodyguard

Siddique comes smiling into the beautiful white-themed drawing room in his newly built house on the outskirts of Kochi, on the banks of Kadambrayar. He has been at home since the release of Bodyguard , his directorial debut in Hindi.

“I was not there for the premiere. Yes, there were many calls to say it was doing very well both in India and overseas. I usually never go for the releases of any of my movies. The crowds scare me,” he says.

So, what's the difference being a successful director in the South (he has directed movies in Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu) and in Bollywood? “For the same efforts taken, one gets so much more adulation and remuneration in Bollywood than in a regional language. That surprises me,” he says. In Malayalam, Bodyguard had Nayantara and Dileep playing the lead. In Tamil, ( Kaavalan ) it was a boost to Vijay's career. Both did somewhat well, but the Hindi version is breaking all records. How?

“Each version, though a remake, had only the storyline as a common factor. Almost everything else was different, the locations, the situations and the moods. I made the lead character's real life characteristics stand out. For instance, Dileep's character has more of comedy, Vijay's character is more romantic in Tamil, and Salman's character is one that suits his body. While in the first two versions, the hero was forced to become bodyguards, in Hindi, that's Salman's profession. This way, I was able to trim the length of the movie in Hindi, as the incidents that led to them turning into bodyguards could be cut.”

A special year

The year 2011 will be special to Siddique, for both Kaavalan and the Hindi Bodyguard released this year. Kaavalan was released on January 15, and he started shooting for the Hindi version the very next day. The Telugu and Kannada versions will have only the story credited to him. “I have done my best in the Hindi version, and I don't think I can improve it,” says the director, who started his career as a mimicry artiste.

Having assisted director Fazil for a few years, he says Fazil used to make his assistants don small roles in his movies to make them understand the plight of the actor. “How useful this was, I came to realise later.” He turned independent in the Malayalam film industry, with the story of Pappan, Priyappetta Pappan . While this film with a blend of comedy and death did not go down well with the audience, his Mohanlal-starrer Nadodikkattu , made people sit up and take notice.

He teamed up with his friend Lal later and they had a saga of success with their joint directorial ventures such as Ramji Rao Speaking , Godfather and Mannar Mathai Speaking . While Lal moved on to produce and act in films, Siddique continued with direction. His Hitler , Friends , Chronic Bachelor , were all big hits.

Simple style of direction

“I will continue to be a director,” he says. Siddique's style of direction is simple. “I don't act out the scenes. Why should I do so to seasoned actors such as Salman or Kareena? I let them emote while giving them the correct situation.”

Siddique is getting ready to go to Bollywood next week.

“Four big banners have offered me movies, but nothing has been decided. I do have the kernel of my next story ready, but I will have to meet them.”

Will Malayalam and Tamil filmdom be able to afford him now? “Of course, I have a project with Mohanlal, which he is producing soon,” says Siddique.

PREMA MANMADHAN

I don't act out the scenes to seasoned actors. I let them emote while giving them the correct situation

More In: METRO PLUS | FEATURES