Mumbai: The success of “Naatu Naatu” at the Oscars proves there is no need for Indian filmmakers to “pander” to western audiences, says filmmaker Shekhar Kapur.
There is something special in the way movies are made in India, said the “Mr India” director, who successfully branched out to Hollywood with the Oscar-nominated period drama “Elizabeth” in 1998, “The Four Feathers” in 2002 and “Elizabeth: The Golden Age”.
“People overseas are recognizing that there is something very special about what they do in India. Otherwise, if they didn’t think there was something special in what we do in India, then why would they get attracted to ‘RRR’? It’s a celebration, a mythic over-the-top, melodramatic celebration of cinema and they loved it.
“‘RRR’ success has proven and opened the eyes of a lot of people in India saying, ‘you don’t have to pander to them, you just do what you do, as brilliantly as you can, which is what ‘RRR’ is,” Kapur told PTI in an interview.
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He also praised the Oscar win of “The Elephant Whisperers” and the nomination to Shaunak Sen’s “All That Breathes”, which lost the Documentary Feature Oscar to “Navalny”.
“It is (India’s presence globally) increasing. I don’t think that winning is as fundamentally important as being nominated. Because winning is okay. We should applaud every film that got nominated because the whole body of people said we loved this film. Then winning is like, okay, which way does the world go that time? We should applaud ‘All That Breathes’ also. It’s a beautiful film,” the filmmaker said.
Kapur credited the rise of streaming platforms for popularising good actors and real stories. He cited the example of Manoj Bajpayee, with whom he collaborated on 1994 film “Bandit Queen”, and said the actor has become a top star, courtesy OTT platforms.
“I think people in India and filmmakers are coming into their own. I think Netflix and Amazon have allowed writers to come out and tell real stories. People like Manoj Bajpayee have become big stars just because they are allowed to come in and tell real stories — “The Family Man” and other things that I watch all the time,” the director said.
“That’s one big thing that has helped Indian cinema come out of just being a Pali Hill film (an affluent residential area in Bandra)… So, that’s happening,” he added.
Kapur praised Rajamouli, saying he is in awe of the Telugu filmmaker’s work, who has made a mark with movies like “Eega”, “Baahubali”, and “RRR”.
He said it was the plotline of “Eega” that first caught his attention and he was curious to understand how the South filmmaker created this world.
Starring Kichcha Sudeepa, Nani, Samantha Ruth Prabhu, the 2012 fantasy action film “Eega” about a man, who reincarnates as a fly and decides to avenge his death.
“I have been fascinated with SS Rajamouli, as a director, for a long time. I saw a film called ‘Eega’, on the fly, here is a man who made a whole feature film on the revenge of a fly and made it entertaining, and successful, who’s this guy? How does he do it?,” the 77-year-old filmmaker said.
“So, I called him one day and we kept talking here and there, he was very humble. And then one day I said, ‘I want to come and talk to you, I want to see how you are. I want to see what you think’. So, I went to meet him and then we spent 2-3 days together. And one day, we will do something together,” he added.
Kapur further shared that after watching Rajamouli’s two-part epic action film “Baahubali”, he met him to understand the director’s style of storytelling.
The “Masoom” director said both he and Rajamouli have become good friends now.
“I went as one filmmaker, to another to see what makes his mind tick, what makes him think (that way). I went after I saw ‘Baahubali’ and I said, ‘oh my God, this guy is amazing’,” he said.
“The problem in Mumbai is that directors don’t talk to each other that much and when I went to the South, they just welcomed each other with open arms. It was such a satisfying experience to just sit and chat, go to his studio, meet his people, talk about storytelling, how it works. He’s become a very good friend now,” he added.
Kapur is awaiting the release of his latest directorial venture “What’s Love Got to Do with It”.
The British romantic comedy movie starring Shabana Azmi, Emma Thompson, Sajal Ali, Shazad Latif, and Lily James will be released in theatres on March 17 by PVR Pictures.