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The inscrutable director

Filmmaker Chandra Siddharth plans a crossover of a different kind


MUCH WATER and whiskey have flown under his belt since Chandra Siddharth's first movie - The Inscrutable Americans. In his five-year hiatus, a lot has changed: Birth of `Crossover Cinema' as a new genre, and more mass around his midriff being the most significant developments.

It is quite a task to get the painfully shy director talk about him, he prefers not to - and that makes him all the more inscrutable. Anyhow, Chandra Siddharth is back doing what he is best at - making another crossover.

"I am working on this movie that should be ready around this time, next year. The story is of three Indian families who've been based in the U.S for the last three generations," he says. Tight-lipped about the cast and crew of the film, all that Chandra lets slip is that, "although Hinglish, a lot of freshness will be infused into the script and it will be a distraction from the regular line of crossover flicks."

Coming from a director who flew out his nest, went to Hollywood and made The Inscrutable Americans at a time when `crossover' was yet to be coined, there is little uncertainty about his claims.

"I am working on a few Telugu projects too," adds the filmmaker, who is known to have launched several new faces, who in a while, shot to stardom. Few are aware that music director R.P. Patnaik, comedian Sunil, actress Laya and writer Trivikram debuted with Chandra Siddharth's Aunuantu Kaaduantu, which was put on ice later. Even Raja's ride to fame was through Appudu Appudu by the same director.

Not many are also aware that Raguveer Yadav's first brush with Telugu cinema was with Chandra Siddharth's production, Nirantaram. "The FTII was the co-producer of this movie that received rave reviews on its release in 1995," he recalls. About the glut of good movies in present times, he says, "The Indian audience has matured intellectually over the years. No more can one give them stuff that is redolent of the same storyline, and that is the reason we find a lot of movies bombing at the B.O.

A lot of experimentation is happening in the industry at present, but unless there is freshness in the formula the mediocrity in movies will continue."

Describing the "oft-overused" term `crossover' - a result of the ongoing experimentation that Chandra mentions - the director says, "With the multiplex scene hotting up in the city, there's a lot of promise for such films. But one should bear in mind that films belonging to this genre are usually not remembered for long, and only making a film in English does not make it easier to cross.

A succinct script that keeps the global audience in mind, and keeps the quintessential Indianness intact qualifies for a crossover. But to be a crossover, the film has to have a sustainable quality to actually cross trans-national barriers and win hearts."

And what is the example of a `good crossover', The Inscrutable Americans? "Well, Monsoon Wedding and Bend it like Beckham are not bad examples either," grins the director. Almost in the same breath, he mentions the recent planetary crossover.

"Honestly, I am looking forward to the profound impact of Venus in my next crossover," Chandra signs off with tongue firmly in his cheek.

SOUVIK CHOWDHURY

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