Ek Thi Daayan director Kannan Iyer, who has taken off on a holiday after the release of his film, agrees with critics who feel the second half of the movie has gone wrong.
"Commercial considerations may have coloured the second movement of the storytelling," says the soft-spoken director, who has waited 10 years to make his debut. "To me, the core story in Ek Thi Daayan is the relationship between the children and their stepmother, who they think might be a witch. I was not interested in the horror or the supernatural elements per se. It was the inherent drama in the theme that interested me.”
Kannan can’t stop praising the two child stars Visshesh Tiwari and Sara Arjun, who play a pivotal role in the film. “Pavan Malhotra and Konkona Sen Sharma, who played their parents, would have their jaws drop when they would see the kids perform. It’s amazing how much talent there is among today’s youngsters,” he says.
Kannan claims his delayed directorial debut is due to the lack of writing talent in the film industry.
“Though early in my career, I’ve been credited with co-writing Ram Gopal Varma’s Daud, I am not really a writer," he says. "It was the lack of writing resources that delayed my journey into direction. My producer Vishal Bhardwaj and I finally found a story that we both liked. It was a one-page story by Mukul Sharma about two kids using a lift to descend to the ground floor which they thought was hell. Vishal wanted to build on that theme to incorporate the idea of witches in a contemporary setting.”
Kannan now wants more writers to come forward, so he can focus on his next film. “We desperately need writing resources. Screenplays need to be developed the way they are by Hollywood studios -- at a leisurely pace before they are put on screen. Unfortunately, in India, we cannot afford to spend time and money developing screenplays.
“I’d like to see more writing talent come forward. But for that sort of indulgence, my first film as a director has to do well. Unfortunately, Ek Thi Daayan is not showing the kind of numbers at the box office that would give me the leverage to invite writing talent into my ambit of activity.”
He promises that he will not plunge into another film until he is sure of the writing. "I waited to make my first film. I can wait again,” he signs off.