Siddique: The pan-Indian Director
His recent film, Bodyguard has gone places. Unni Nair talks to the director himself and finds out what worked.
Siddique began his directorial career in 1989, directing Ramjirao Speaking along with his friend Lal. The film was a surprise hit and continues to be a favourite of all Malayalees. It was a trendsetter too and the Siddique-Lal duo went on delivering hits, including In Harihar Nagar, Godfather, Kabooliwala etc. Later, Siddique chose to go solo and directed several hit films such as Friends, Hitler and Chronic Bachelor. He also directed the Tamil remakes of his films Friends and Hitler and also had directed an original Tamil film Sadhu Miranda. Now, he is all set to conquer Bollywood too. Although some of his earlier films have been remade in Hindi, this time he is all set to direct the Hindi remake of his latest film Bodyguard in Malayalam and Kaavalan in Tamil. Bodyguard, which had Dileep and Nayanthara in key roles, didn't turn out to be a huge hit and Kaavalan, the Tamil version with Vijay and Asin in the lead is doing well at box-office. The Hindi remake of the film has Salman Khan and Kareena Kapoor donning the lead. Siddique is also going to direct the Telugu version.
Siddique who is currently shooting for the Hindi version of Bodyguard in a telephonic conversation with Southscope, tells how the film has appealed to the audience of various languages and his Hindi debut.
Are you happy with the response from the audience for your Tamil film Kaavalan?
It's going great. The responses are all good; the film is getting appreciated too. It's now hailed as Vijay's comeback film. At present I am in Pune, shooting for the Hindi version of Bodyguard. Titled The Bodyguard, it has Salman Khan and Kareena Kapoor in the lead roles. Shoot began immediately after the Tamil version, Kaavalan, was released.
Though Bodyguard didn't do well at the box office, Kaavalan is going smooth.
Yes, I am happy. I knew that Kaavalan would be a hit. In fact Bodyguard should also have been a hit.
What do you think would have gone wrong with Bodyguard?
As for my films, starting with Ramjirao Speaking, most of them wouldn't have a great opening. But word-of- mouth publicity would work out and very soon people would throng the theatres and the films would become blockbusters. Marketing, means a lot for such films. With Bodyguard, things were different. The film had a good beginning, but then nothing much was done as regards promotion, from the producer's side. All that was done was from my side. A producer's job doesn't end with just funding the making of a movie. He has to stand by the film at all stages, even after release and help in promotions and all. Then only would things work in favour of it. This didn't happen and Bodyguard didn't do as well as was expected. Moreover, there were other issues brewing up against me and Dileep, especially regarding the trade bodies related strife and all. That too worked against the film.
And then you tried to test your luck in Tamil with the remake, isn't it?
Not exactly! The subject was initially meant to be made as a Tamil film, with Vijay, even before his Vettaikaaran. But then, things didn't work out and the producer from Malayalam approached me and so I began the Malayalam film.
What is the basic difference between the Malayalam version and the Tamil one?
The image that the lead stars have has demanded lots of differences to be brought in. Dileep, who played the hero, has a guy-nextdoor image. The character he played was hence a bit timid and admires people who are bold and heroic. But Vijay has a different kind of an image. He is a mass hero who fights, dances, sings and romances in a different way. The character therefore had to be louder and bolder. I worked it out that way.
In the Hindi version, with someone like Salman Khan in the lead, you will have to change it all once again. Is it?
Yes, definitely. The Hindi version is different, one that suits a wider audience and also the image that Salman Khan has. It's going to be made on a totally different canvas.
What about the Telugu version? Who is doing the lead? And when would it begin?
It's yet to be finalised. Let me first wrap up the Hindi version. Anyway, the Telugu version would be made without any doubt.
What prompted you to make this film in different languages?
It's definitely the subject of the film. It's got some kind of a pan-Indian appeal. Emotional elements work almost the same way all over India. In fact the film has a story with universal appeal, to be precise. My other films like Ramjirao Speaking and Godfather, were remade in Hindi much later after it was made in Malayalam and they clicked with the audience.
Your films were earlier remade in Hindi too, but you didn't direct them. Did you ever feel that you could have done that better?
That's something which every filmmaker may feel. It's not just remakes, sometimes I'd feel that I could have done my own films in a better way if I were doing them all over once again. That's natural. But I am happy that my films were remade in Hindi and were good too.