The filmmaker has been collating all the feedback coming his way to find out what could have been done better.
Filmmaker-actor MG Srinivas’ Ghost hit theatres a fortnight ago. The Shivarajkumar-led heist thriller had a decent opening, despite the heavy onslaught of biggies from other languages, like, Leo, Bhagavanth Kesari, Tiger Nageswara Rao and Ganpath. Ghost, as far as Srini is concerned, has made enough money at the box office and the producer is a happy man. That’s mission accomplished. But far from basking in the glory of this success, Srinivas has his ear firmly on the ground, keeping track of what audiences liked or didn’t about his film, which he believes will help him put together an even better product when he begins working on the proposed sequel and spin-off movie on the character Dalavayi. The filmmaker is candid in acknowledging that the feedback he’s got had its fair share of criticism and that he’s been collating specifics about things that went wrong or could have been better. OTTplay caught up with the filmmaker for a quick tete-a-tete on his learnings after the release of Ghost.
So, what have you been hearing from audiences about Ghost?
The response to Ghost has largely been positive, but there’s a section that did not connect with the subject. That was to be expected. Thankfully, no one pointed out that I went wrong with any part of the execution. However, there have been suggestions on how some portions could have been done better. One of the common comments I heard was that the plot points in the first half should have been developed and explained better. Since the film is just over two hours long, the narrative was fast paced, which some audiences said meant that it made it difficult for them to grasp certain elements. I’ve been told that a slightly slower pace would have benefitted the first half, and, by extension, the rest of it too.
The non-linear structure, in which we cut to flashbacks and then to present day and then to another time period, and so on and so forth, was an issue that was highlighted. Movie goers in the B & C centres, especially family audiences who went to single-screen theatres, said that this was confusing. Family audiences tend to go for movies expecting a certain pattern of entertainment, with emotion, drama, song and dance, etc. When they then watch a film that breaks that pattern, it becomes difficult for them to wrap their heads around it. I have been speaking to exhibitors also to find out the pulse of the audience and what they think of the film and the response has been fairly standard. For instance, the film is doing extraordinarily well in a centre like Mysuru, but that’s not the case in, say, Chamarajnagar because of this issue. Audiences there are not understanding the film, which, truth be told, I find a little befuddling, because Ghost is quite a straightforward film.
While I was editing the film, I must have shown it to at least 50 people in my close circles, most of who tend to be brutally honest in their feedback. Not one said that they didn’t understand the film. So, when some audiences said that they did not understand the screenplay I was taken by surprise. I have not made a complicated or confusing film. My personal observation at some of these single-screen theatres with family audiences was that they tend to get distracted – it could be a phone call, or a child interrupting with a question or hankering for a snack. By the time they attend to that and return to pay attention to the film, they would have missed crucial elements that connect the narrative. Then, of course, they will not understand why certain things unfold.
Will this influence his story-telling of Ghost 2 or the proposed Dalavayi spin-off?
See, I am paying heed to all the feedback and filtering it for elements that will be helpful going forward. I know I have not made a flawless film. I will take into account what people liked and didn’t. Not even in our wildest dreams did we think that the Dalavayi character will click with audiences and that we’d have to do a spin-off. But then, I am not going to tailor my story-telling to suit audiences who did not understand Ghost. It defeats the whole purpose of trying to do something different. Also, if I had been the lead actor of Ghost, my approach would have been more realistic. I can’t do that with an actor of Shivarajkumar’s stature; it needs the right amount of elevations. People go for a Shivarajkumar film to enjoy such moments. Having said that, I have not given much thought to Ghost 2 just yet. There is a larger picture in my mind of how to connect the Ghost and Birbal franchises, but the finer details are yet to be ironed out. There are several unanswered questions about certain characters in the film, like Archana Jois’ father, the informant in the prison, or Jayaram sir’s Chengappa - is he going to sit back and let Anand/Ghost take on Dalavayi’s son? Even Anupam Kher’s character needs more definition. All of that will come into play in future movies.
What is the road ahead looking like?
I will start Birbal 2 sometime in February and aim to wrap it up by say July-August. Thereafter, it will be Dalavayi and Ghost 2, in that order, but there is also a film that I will direct for Shivarajkumar’s production house. We are in the process of figuring that out.
Dalavayi as a full-fledged film was not on your radar. Audiences liked the attitude and swag of the little that they got to see of him in Ghost and want more. But therein lies a problem – Dalavayi is all evil with no shred of goodness in him; something that Shivarajkumar audiences will expect in his roles…
That’s an interesting thought. Shivarajkumar’s gangster films have always had him as a crusader, picking up weapons for a cause. There’s a good about the bad stuff he does, whether it was Om, Jogi. Mufti/Bhairathi Ranagal. Dalavayi does not have a moral compass like that and that is something that I will have to address.