Priyadarshan still continues with the method of selecting actors on the basis of the script, says Madhur Tankha

An old fashioned filmmaker, he still continues with the method of selecting actors on the basis of the script. Priyadarshan says he selected the lead actor of his upcoming film “ Rangrezz” because he looked the age.

The upcoming film, starring Jackky Bhagnani in the lead, is about four lower middle class boys whose lives criss-cross.

“After youngsters pass out of college, they are a vulnerable lot. I would say it is a volatile time for the youth. During this time, they have a lot of dreams and ambitions. But their dreams can go haywire. They can become terrorists or police officers. It all depends on what kind of friends they have,” says the ace filmmaker. “Rangrezz” is about youngsters who could either be from the streets of Delhi or Mumbai. They enjoy bonding with their family members and are traditional to the core. They are not influenced by Western values and culture.

In real life, he admits that middle class values are fast eroding. “This is what the film is about… The four friends can give their lives for each other. ‘ Rangrezz’ is about love, success, violence and emotions. I have tried to be as realistic as possible. Instead of a studio, I have filmed predominantly on actual locations.”

To get his mannerism right, Jackky, who grew up in the lap of luxury, stayed for a month in a middle class locality in Mumbai. It was important because he had to portray a lower middle class Maharashtrian character Rishi Deshpande.

Priyadarshan instructed him to observe how the locals interacted so that he could imitate their speaking style and behaviour.

Jackky mingled with the locals and even played cricket and soccer with them.

Apart from Mumbai, the film has been shot in Mysore and some towns of Uttar Pradesh.

Priyadarshan, who switched from Malayalam cinema to Hindi cinema with consummate ease, admits there is a huge difference between the kind of films produced in Bollywood and South India.

“Culture-wise, South Indian films are completely different from Hindi films. While re-making a Hindi film from my earlier South Indian movie, I have to rewrite the script. Forty per cent of the script has to be rewritten because in the South, we have a conservative society. Even work-wise the film industry down South right from actors to the cameraman and the rest of the crew are thoroughly disciplined. Our territory is small so we have to be mindful of time and resources. This is not the case in Hindi cinema. It has a wider audience across the country. People associated with the Hindi film industry have of late started working in a more disciplined manner.”

South Indian films, particularly Malayalam, are realistic films. “They do not revolve only around the stars. Hindi films are more for the masses and less for the elite.”

For Priyadarshan the story plays a crucial role in giving the film a good launching pad and the selection of actors comes secondary.

With commercially viable projects like “ Bhool Bhulaaiya” and “ Malaamal Weekly ” under his belt, Priyadarshan has been more fortunate than other South Indian filmmakers who ventured into Hindi film territory.

But Priyadarshan dismisses such comments in his typical happy-go-lucky style by saying with deadpan expression: “I am just plain lucky. Of the 87 films I have made so far, 33 are in Hindi.”

Priyadarshan’s next release is a Malyalam film. “My script for an Akshay Kumar-starrer film is ready. It has always been a pleasure to work with Akshay. This film like my previous productions will be lapped up by the middle class.”

The filmmaker is unhappy that his critically acclaimed film “ Billu” or “ Billu Barber ” was not a commercial success.

“The problem is that sensible films do not get good response at the box office. The audience expected the film to be a typical Shah Rukh Khan movie. When they did not find those elements which are normally seen in his film they were disappointed.”

Though Irrfan Khan played with aplomb the role of a reticent barber and the charismatic Shah Rukh Khan, whose production house financed the film, did his best to entertain the audience with his starry mannerism and dialogue-delivery, “ Billu” ended up as an average film.