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Akshay’s comedy is Priyadarshan’s contribution

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Priyadarshan — the man who made laugh-out-loud comedies like Hera Pheri and Bhagam Bhag, alongside dramas like Virasat and Bhool Bhulaiyaa — was in town early this week to shoot an ad film. t2 caught up with him at Hyatt Regency...

You’ve always said that Calcutta is a city close to your heart...

After my school, for two months I lived in Calcutta. I came back after a long time with Shah Rukh (Khan) for the first IPL. I really love Calcutta for many reasons. They say there are many similarities between Bengalis and Malayalees... fish to gossip to literature to communism. I love the way the Bengali language sounds. I have watched all (Satyajit) Ray, Mrinal Sen and Tapan Sinha films. I have done 88 films in Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Hindi and I want to do a Bengali film now. Jeet (actor) has offered me a film. Most probably I will accept it but I am just looking for the right subject.

You apparently wanted to study at Santiniketan...

There are certain dreams that never happened. One was being a part of Santiniketan and Visva-Bharati. Then, I wanted to be in the Pune film institute (FTII), but that also didn’t happen as my father said that cinema was not a profession.

Your National Award-winning film Kanjivaram is a tribute to Satyajit Ray. Who have been your filmmaking influences?

I am a huge fan of David Lean and the other is definitely Satyajit Ray. I’ve always loved Ray. I have never felt that his films are arty films, I’ve always felt them to be as gripping as commercial films.

Your last few films haven’t done well commercially. Does that bother you?

No, no! After 88 films in five languages, there is no pressure. Basically, I do Hindi films because it gives me better money. Otherwise, I enjoy making Malayalam films because it’s so real and it gives a lot of job satisfaction.

How has making films in Bollywood changed since you made your first Hindi film Gardish in 1993?

A lot of people tell me that I brought discipline to Bollywood. Earlier, films used to take three years to finish. But after I came in, films started getting finished in four to six months. I can proudly say that another contribution of mine is Akshay Kumar and comedy films.

Akshay Kumar and Paresh Rawal have been a fixture in most of your films...

When I cast them, people made fun of me: ‘Are you making a comedy film with Suniel Shetty who is a macho hero, Akshay Kumar who is an action hero and Paresh Rawal who is a villain?’ But then it worked because the comedy films I make don’t depend on actors. That’s why films like Malamaal Weekly became big hits even without stars.

You write scripts and direct films. Which is more difficult: the writing or the execution?

The most challenging part is writing the screenplay. Execution is always easy. But once the screenplay fails, however well you execute the film... doesn’t work. The screenplay is the spine of filmmaking.

What can we expect from you next?

I am trying to make a very big film in the south with Mohanlal. It’s a period film on a true story of Kunjali Marakkar. He was a braveheart. In March, I will start a Hindi film with Akshay. It won’t be a comedy, it will be set against the backdrop of AIDS.... I had made a mistake by making serious films like Aakrosh and Tezz. I will try humour again.

our priyan comedy picks

Hera Pheri
This black comedy featuring Akshay, Suniel and Paresh has become cult over the years.

Garam Masala
Priyan was in his elements in this Akshay-John Abraham comedy about two philandering men.

Hungama
The comedy of errors had some laugh-out-loud sequences, courtesy an
in-form Paresh Rawal.

Hulchul
Priyan’s trademark comedy and the presence of stars like Akshaye Khanna and Kareena Kapoor made this a fun watch.

Bhagam Bhag
The combination of Akshay, Paresh and Govinda made us go ROFL.

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