The director opens up on Edhiri, his segment in Navarasa, Netflix's second anthology in Tamil, slated to release on August 6.
Director Bejoy Nambiar, who has been having a long association with veteran filmmaker Mani Ratnam, is elated and has pinned high hopes on Edhiri, which the latter is presenting along with Jayendra Panchapakesan, as part of Navarasa, the anthology produced by Netflix, which will release on August 6. He has one more reason to smile as the story of his segment, which is based on the rasa, compassion, is written by the legend himself. Bejoy, who has co-written its screenplay along with Arpita Chatterjee, believes he has done justice to the rasa he has made. He talks to OTTplay in detail about Edhiri, the importance of music in the film, the avenues OTT platforms have offered for filmmakers and actors, his journey over the years and the one thing he wants to do once the pandemic settles down. Excerpts from the interview...
Edhiri has powerhouse performers like Prakash Raj, Revathi and Vijay Sethupathi. Could you elaborate on how the project took off and what made all these talented actors come on board?
During the initial stage of Navarasa, when Mani sir and Jayendra sir were setting up the whole project, I was invited to come on board and I got to chose the emotion I wanted to make. When we were discussing various ideas, he came up with something and asked me if I would be interested in making a film on that. I felt his story would be apt for me to do justice to the particular emotion (compassion) I had chosen to make. Later, Arpita and I started developing the screenplay. Apart from the fact that the anthology is done for a noble cause, all these actors came on board because they resonated with the emotion of the story. They were more than happy to be part of an interesting initiative like this.
How crucial is music composer Govind Vasantha's contribution to the film? The track Yaadho brings together Govind and singer Chinmayi for a project featuring Vijay Sethupathi after the stupendous success of 96. What can audience and music lovers look forward to?
I have been jamming with Govind for many years now. He has always contributed immensely for my projects; he is important to me as much as music is important for my stories. For Edhiri, our plan was to have a minimalistic score. We were keen to have a haunting melody, though. Govind came up with a theme music even before seeing the rushes; he had only listened to the story. When we got Chinmayi to sing the song, I didn't realize it was a coming together of sorts for the trio of 96. I think audience had high expectations since the announcement of their names in the project. I am extremely happy about the responses I have been receiving. I personally loved Yaadho as I felt the track blended well with the film's mood.
What do you think are the liberties filmmakers and actors enjoy with the influx of OTT platforms?
The advent of various OTT platforms has provided more avenues to both filmmakers and actors. Till recently, our options were limited, but today, we have more opportunities with regard to narrating different kinds of stories. It is a healthy trend as these platforms have provided a liberated space for filmmakers and actors.
With more stars and big ticket flicks going the OTT way, do you think theatres will continue to attract audiences like earlier times?
I'm one of those people who still believes that cinema belongs to movie halls. Though it's true that we have been consuming the OTT content more on phones, iPads and TVs for more than an year, the joy of watching films on the big screen is unparalleled. I think people will definitely go back to theatres once the pandemic settles down.
What according to you are the challenges for filmmakers in terms of pleasing movie buffs during a time when they are exposed to content from across the globe?
I think the audience has been exposed to great content in different languages in the recent times. It is natural that filmmakers here will be compared with the best ones from across the world. It is a big pressure for content makers here to impress the audience and to match their expectations. But the fact is, we get only a fraction of the budget in which some of them make films or shows.
Going forward, do you think the concept of stardom will be a thing of the past?
No, I don't think so. The phenomenon of stardom is here to stay, no matter what. I don't see a possibility of the concept fading away in the near future.
How do you think you have evolved as a filmmaker over the years in terms of handling characters and experimenting with different genres?
I don't have a tangible parameter to evaluate how I have been evolving as a filmmaker since my debut film, but I think I have evolved a lot considering the body of work I have attempted over the years. But I think it is the audience who should primarily be able to say it.
What are the few things you would like to do if the world becomes free of corona or if the situation becomes better than the current phase we are in?
The first thing which comes to my mind is travelling. I think I will definitely have to travel a lot.
You have made films in Hindi, Tamil and Malayalam. Would you be interested in making films in a different language?
I'm content with what I have been doing; I think making films in these many languages itself is quite a lot. Attempting a film in an unexplored language depends on the story. If the story demands, I don't mind doing movies in any language.