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Director Siddique on working with Mohanlal in 'Big Brother', and balancing content and budget in cinema

Siddique (left) and Mohanlal   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Siddique, along with Lal with whom he directed many hits, is regarded as one of the trendsetters of comedy in Malayalam cinema.

After making his entry into movies from the mimicry stage, Siddique, who made his directorial début with Ramji Rao Speaking in 1989, has made his presence felt in Tamil and Hindi as well. The filmmaker is now ready with Mohanlal-starrer Big Brother that releases next week.

In an interview with FridayReview, Siddique opens up on his stint as a filmmaker and why he prefers commercial cinema to art-house films. Excerpts...

Your early comedies such as Ramji Rao Speaking, In Harihar Nagar, Godfather, Vietnam Colony and Hitler continue to appeal to film buffs...

To be honest, we never imagined that our films would go on to appeal to a new generation of viewers as well. I feel the attention to detail helps viewers find something new each time they watch the film.

Director Siddique

Director Siddique   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Your stories usually start on a humorous note and then turn serious...

If you take a closer look, the storylines are actually all serious. It’s just that the treatment is different with varying doses of humour. For instance, Ramji Rao Speaking is based on a kidnapping, In Harihar Nagar is a murder mystery and Godfather is a love story in the ‘Romeo and Juliet’ mould.

How would you evaluate the evolution of comedies in Malayalam cinema?

Malayalam has a rich heritage in terms of comedy. Our literature had geniuses such as Kunchan Nambiar. But comedies were not really a successful genre until movies such as Nadodikkattu brought in a difference. From then on, more comedies were made in tune with the social conditions and the mindset of that period.

After Vietnam Colony (1992) and Ladies and Gentleman (2013), you are teaming up with Mohanalal again. What changes do you see in the actor?

Mohanlal’s growth as an actor has been phenomenal. On a commercial level too, the stature of his movies has reached new heights from the time we associated with each other. Expectations are huge now. Big Brother will live up to it.

Hitler was about an older brother who is overprotective of his sisters. How different is Big Brother?

For that matter, even Chronic Bachelor was about a brother’s affection for his sister. Big Brother is different from those stories. The character played by Mohanlal is the saviour of a family but that is the only similarity with the previous films.

Siddique (right) and Mohanlal at the sets of Big Brother

Siddique (right) and Mohanlal at the sets of Big Brother   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

As one grows older, is it more challenging to create stories that connect with the viewers of the time?

It’s never easy and requires thorough research and observation. The milieu we live in keeps changing and so do the viewers, which means the treatment has to be topical. Having said that, basic storylines and cinematic grammar, by and large, remain the same.

Is there an attempt by filmmakers to make movies that appeal to viewers in other languages too, considering the profits to be made from remakes?

Not from my side. I make stories only for Malayalam. But I believe that my stories have an outlook that has made it acceptable in other languages as well. The strength of a plot can take it beyond boundaries. For instance, Bodyguard became a huge success when it was remade in Tamil and Hindi.

How do you see the shift in focus from content to crore clubs and big budgets?

Nowadays, it is a fact that the value of a movie is often gauged by the numbers that the movie attracts than the content. I feel that while making a movie, the filmmaker has to be sure whether it is a commercial or an offbeat one and also keep in mind the target audience.

What’s your take on awards ?

Godfather was considered for the National awards in the best popular film category. But the jury decided not to give the award that year. After that, I usually don’t send my movies for awards.

Are younger actors reluctant to work with senior filmmakers?

Yes. By doing so, the younger crop of actors is not using the chance to explore a different terrain with the experienced lot.

They don’t realise that they too may face a similar rejection at a later stage. There is also an orchestrated campaign on social media against movies made by senior technicians.

Looking back at your former association with Lal, which came to known as the ‘Siddique-Lal’ duo...

I have only fond memories about our association. We have benefited from working as a team and we took the decision to go on our own at the right time.

You have attained success making comedies. Is there a pressure to stick to a pattern?

I don’t think about all of that. My attempt has been to narrate the best story at that point of time. I believe I have done the same with Big Brother too.

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Printable version | Dec 8, 2021 12:19:18 AM |

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