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'I want to take risks'

Subhash K Jha | August 05, 2003 11:15 IST

Prawaal Raman (left) directs Sanjay Kapoor in Darna Mana HaiThe director of Darna Mana Hai is exceedingly media shy.

Twenty-seven-year-old Prawaal Raman laughs uncomfortably, "I was asked to do interviews. But I declined politely. I am not trying to be mysterious just because I have made a chiller. I think it is premature, if not outright immature, for a newcomer to shoot his mouth off even before his creative effort has been released. In any case, Varma Corporation did enough to promote Darna Mana Hai."

Producer Ram Gopal Varma confessed the film was entirely Raman's baby; there were no inputs from him. Raman smiles, "I'm lucky and happy with the way Darna Mana Hai has been received. It is doing very well at [urban] multiplexes. We were targeting the film at a certain section of the audience -- the young, urban India -- and they saw and liked the film. This is a film with attitude and has found an attitude to match."

The six-story format of the film -- with a huge starcast that includes Vivek Oberoi, Nana Patekar, Sohail Khan, Sameera Reddy, Antara Mali, Raghuvir Yadav, Revathy, Aftab Shivdasani, Isha Koppikar, Saif Ali Khan and Boman Irani -- has the audience amused and bewildered. "That was Ramuji's idea. I found it very exciting. These are original stories put together by me, Ramuji and our three screenwriters. Maybe I do have a twisted mind. How else would I have made a film like Darna Mana Hai?" asks the debutant filmmaker.

It is difficult to make him talk about himself. "D
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arna Mana Hai
is the only film to my credit. Beyond that, no one is interested in me, not even me. I have no past history. I am not related to any of the great filmmakers. I didn't have any burning desire to be a filmmaker when I was a child. I only have favourite films, not filmmakers. I love [Russian filmmaker Andrei] Tarkovsky, Guru Dutt and Ritwik Ghatak. I look up to Ram Gopal Varma for his attitude."

"Many new filmmakers love to romanticise their journey," he adds. "I don't find anything romantic about my journey. I am not an interesting person. But I think I can tell interesting stories. In school, I would cook up a lot of stories. That's when the germ for Darna Mana Hai must have been planted in my mind. I ran away from classes to watch films."

Raman was warned not to experiment with form in his first film. "I was told if I failed I would be wiped off the  moviemaking map. But it was a risk worth taking. And I want to take risks again. That is why I look up to Ram Gopal Varma. I identify with his mindset."

Critics were unhappy with the gruesome climax of Darna Mana Hai. Raman says he is happy with the entire film. "The climax was needed. The main story which formed the climax held the other stories together. Darna Mana Hai is a complete fantasy. And the climax had to abide by the rules of horror."

Was the climax a homage to M Night Shyamalan's films? Raman laughs, "Not at all. My grandmother told me stories about spirits. The copyright belongs to my grandmother," he says, tongue-in-cheek. "No point in looking for messages there. I had stories to tell, and I did. I can tell a story about apples and cigarettes with the same ease.

What was it likeVivek Oberoi and Nana Patekar in Darna Mana Hai directing such a huge cast in his very first film? Raman smiles, "We knew we were going to work with known faces. But the USP of Darna Mana Hai wasn't the stars, it was the concept. The stars just happened to be there. I suppose we could have worked with new faces if we wanted to. The idea was to work with good actors. That they were known faces added to the project's commercial viability. We were pretty sure about whom we wanted. I suggested names and Ramuji approached them. After that, it was my job to extract the performances I wanted from them. As a director, I knew my job. My actors trusted me. It was smooth sailing."

He refuses to comment on the segment and actor that he enjoyed the most. "I like every story. I didn't like the story about the woman who is scared of apples, though. I feel it wasn't executed properly."

Raman is now busy with his next project: "Ramuji is making a sequel to Darna Mana Hai. I am not directing it. I have been busy with my next project, Ghaayab, which starts on August 10. The protagonist of Ghaayab is a missing person. He will be played by Tusshar Kapoor. It will also star Rekhaji, Om Puri and Antara Mali. I am looking forward to directing this assorted set of actors. It is an intense love story with black humour. It will be different from Darna Mana Hai. For one, it will have one story and one ending. But it won't be a conventional film."

Prawal plans to complete Ghaayab by November. Any plans to move out of Varma's camp? "I plan to stick around till he is useful to me, and I to him," he shoots back, sounding quite like his mentor. "I am an employee at the Varma Corporation. And I am trying to implement the company's creative policies. One thing is for sure. I will be a filmmaker all my life."

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