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'We just have to give them a good film and they will give you the numbers'

December 16, 2022 12:57 IST

'Every film cannot do a business of Rs 200 crore.'

IMAGE: Abhishek Pathak, centre, with Shriya Saran, left, and Ajay Devgn on the sets of Drishyam 2. Photograph: Kind courtesy Abhishek Pathak/Instagram

Abhishek Pathak started out as a production assistant at 17, studied film-making at the New York Film Academy; at 21, he made a short film, Boond, which won the National Award; flagged off the superhit Pyaar Ka Punchnama franchise, along with Khuda Haafiz, as a producer. He is now is winning raves for directing Drishyam 2, which has grossed over Rs 200 crore (Rs 2 billion) at the box office and brought huge cheer in a drought year for Hindi films.

In a conversation with Senior Contributor Roshmila Bhattacharya, Abhishek reveals how he came to direct Drishyam 2 after Nishikant Kamat, who directed Drishyam, died.

"I had a certain vision for the film when I bought the rights and didn't want it to get lost in translation, so I stepped up."


A double century and counting. Feels good?

It does. The audience is loving Drishyam 2; they are coming to the theatres to watch it. It's a big achievement!

Despite the pre-release anticipation, did you expect such an overwhelming response?

Yes. That's why we held on to all the rights, including the global theatrical rights.

Yash Raj Films only distributed the film for us in the international market, and we partnered with them in India, because we were confident of the numbers.

IMAGE: Abhishek Pathak with his father Kumar Mangat and Ajay Devgn.Photograph: Kind courtesy Abhishek Pathak/Instagram

This despite the Malayalam original being available on OTT at the press of a button?

What you can watch on Amazon Prime is not a dubbed Hindi version but the Malayalam original with English subtitles.

There is a really small section of the audience in India who will watch a regional film with English subtitles.

Living in a metro city like Mumbai or Delhi, we assume that everyone reads Englishm but actually 90 per cent of our population speaks only Hindi.

Having lived Vijay Salgaonkar's journey, we knew they would want to know what happens to his family and him, and not be interested in seeing Georgekutty's story.

Given how well the film is doing, will the Hindi Drishyam 3 come out before the Malayalam one?

We will first have to crack an idea, then decide if we want to collaborate with the South makers or go the distance alone.

For now, we are happy living the success of Drishyam 2.

IMAGE: Abhishek Pathak with Ajay Devgn and the late Nishikant Kamat, who directed Drishyam. Photograph: Kind courtesy Abhishek Pathak/Instagram

How did you come to direct Drishyam 2?

I wasn't planning to.

But after losing Nishi sir (Nishikant Kamat, who directed Drishyam), when I was wondering who could direct Part 2, dad (producer-distributor Kumar Mangat Pathak) and my friend Luv (writer, producer, director Luv Ranjan) pushed me into picking up the reins.

When I demurred, they pointed out that this is my world and the thriller is a genre I like best.

I had a certain vision for the film when I bought the rights and didn't want it to get lost in translation, so I stepped up.

For me, that moment of deciding whether to direct it myself or not will always be an important part of Drishyam 2.

I was very clear I would need a couple of months to rewrite the original as we are not catering to the same audience.

The story is the same, but the screenplay, the treatment and the performances are very different.

You have known Ajay Devgn for a long time now. What is he like as an actor and a person?

Ajay sir is one of the most professional artists I have met, always punctual, very down-to-earth and humble, a family man.

He understands the character better than even the writer.

He only has to read the script to get the body language and tonality right.

And Tabu?

Sweet, nice, humble, talented, she lives the role of Meera Deshmukh.

IMAGE: Akshaye Khanna and Ajay Devgn in Drishyam 2.

You had a new entrant in Drishyam 2, Akshaye Khanna.

It was an author-backed role, written with him in mind.

We met him for a narration. He read the screenplay and the same evening, called to say he was doing the film.

Another fab actor who gets under the skin of the character.

He was so involved, had so many questions about his character's back story.

He wanted to know if IG Tarun Ahlawat was married, had children -- even though there is no reference to his family in the screenplay -- just to get a better understanding of his character.

Will the success of Drishyam 2 bring on additional pressure?

No, every film cannot do a business of Rs 200 crore.

The idea should not be to make a film that runs, but one that people would want to see.

It's wrong to say they (audiences) are no longer interested in coming to the theatres.

If they can go for lunches and dinners, and to malls, why will they not come to watch a film?

We just have to give them a good film and they will give you the numbers.