Posted by: Ranjith Sankar | June 17, 2011

KAGW Article

Only thing I wanted to do with my life was to make movies.I managed to make 2 so far.The first one “Passenger” was a hit and many thought it was a very special movie then.The second one “Arjunan Saakhsi” was a flop and most said I am a “one movie wonder”.Well I don’t know myself if I am one unless I make my next.So probably this is called mid life crisis for me.

I wrote the first draft of passenger in 2003.I never thought of directing it myself.The script was rejected by almost all leading film makers here as it was too risky to make it.I realised if I wanted to see passenger on screen i would need to direct it myself.

I wrote for television before.But that was more of a writers medium.I could do whatever i wanted within the limitations of a budget.Movie was totally different.It was and it had to be a directors medium.

I had realised that making passenger was the most important part of my life at that point of time.There seemed no point in living without making it or atleast be in the pursuit of making it.

I got an appointment with Mammutty to narrate the script.He loved the script and gave me confidence saying I was the best person to direct it.He said he can arrange me opportunities to learn direction.I spend the past 3 years visiting movie sets and watch other directors work using some of the contacts I had.It was tough days but what kept me going was the excitement of seeing passenger on screen some day.

I felt confident that I was ready to direct in 2007.I approached all the leading producers with the passenger script.Again no one was ready to make it, as it was a huge risk.So I had a script I believed in, but no producers, distributors, actors.. absolutely me alone. I knew I had to make a start somewhere. I remember it was during one of those sleepless nights I realised I could produce passenger myself.

Well I was not a multimillionaire to do it, but I could very well raise the amount from banks against my salary and against couple of properties I had bought by then. The best part was that my family supported me completely in it. They must have realised how important it was for me.

Mammutty was too busy to do the movie at that point of time.I couldn’t have waited longer.Also I had started feeling if the common man in sathyanathan would be overpowered by the megastar in him.I met sreenivasan with the script to play the role of Sathyanathan. I told him I will produce and direct the movie. He heard the script and said it was excellent. I asked him whether he would act as Sathyan. He smiled and said that he will not only act in this movie but will stand by me to make it. We parted after a chat for an hour.

It was busy next day for me, approaching banks for loans. Canara bank offered me 10 lakhs. It was not enough. I was driving to HDFC that I got a call from Sreenivasan. He asked whether I was particular that I produce passenger. He said it would be difficult for me to focus writing, directing and producing a first movie. He offered to arrange me a producer. I was pleasantly surprised. I was not alone anymore.

Rest was easy. The best part was that evryone who joined us in the project loved and believed in passenger as much or more than I did. We got each and every actor whom we wanted to every particular role. It was dream casting. You cant actually plan it. Its luck. It happens for some movies which are destined to have it.

Passenger was a commercial and critical success.There were several offers to make another movie.I felt I should wait for a script that excites me.Arjunan Sakshi was something I wanted to make since I was a student.I started feeling strongly that I should make it since I felt the issues that it discussed was more relevant now than a decade before.I completed the script and felt Prithviraj was the right actor to play the central role.

I met Prithvi with the script and he was very excited to do it.We made arjunan saakhi with same or even more passion than passenger.It was a big shock for me when it did not do well at the box office.I couldn’t do anything for a couple of months.I travelled extensively during the period to distract myself from its thoughts.Nothing was helpful.And one fine morning I realised the only way to come out of it was to work on another script.I need a dream to keep myself going all the time.

And now there is a dream.I am excited about writing it right now.I don’t know how audience are going to take it.I don’t want to be bothered about it since I don’t want to lose the excitement of creating it.

Hopefully you will get to see my 3rd movie some time soon.

(An article for KAGW magazine reproduced from some of the earlier blogs)

Advertisements

Responses

  1. Mashe,
    Thanks for sharing. അര്‍ജുനന്‍ സാക്ഷി ഒരു പക്ഷെ സാമ്പത്തികമായി പരാജയപ്പെട്ടിരിക്കാം..പക്ഷെ സിനിമ ഒരു സംവിധായകന്റെ കല ആണ് എന്നത് ഓര്‍മ്മിപ്പിക്കുന്ന ചില നല്ല സ്ഫുലിംഗങ്ങള്‍ ആ സിനിമയില്‍ ഉണ്ടായിരുന്നൂ..ഒരു പക്ഷെ താങ്കളിലെ തിരക്കഥകൃത്ത് കുറച്ച് പിന്നോട്ട് പോയി എന്ന് തോന്നുന്നൂ (ഗാലറിയില്‍ ഇരുന്നു എളുപ്പത്തില്‍ ചെയ്യാവുന്ന അഭിപ്രായ “പണി” യുടെ അസ്കിത ഉള്ളത് കൊണ്ട് പറഞ്ഞതാണ്.. കാര്യമാക്കേണ്ട !! 🙂 )ഒപ്പം പാസ്സഞ്ചര്‍ എന്ന മനോഹര ചിത്രം നല്‍കിയ (അമിത) പ്രതീക്ഷകള്‍, പ്രിഥ്വി യുടെ ഇമേജ് (ചില ആളുകള്‍ക്ക ഈ കക്ഷി യെ ഭയങ്കര ദേഷ്യമാണ്..മലയാളികള്‍ക്ക്‌ മറ്റുള്ളവരെ ‘അഹങ്കാരി” ആയി കാണുന്നത് ഇഷ്ടമല്ലെന്ന് തോന്നുന്നൂ..) ഒക്കെ കാരണം ആവാം പരാജയപ്പെട്ടത്‌..മാഷ്‌ വെയ്റ്റ്‌ ചെയ്യ്‌..ഈ സിനിമ ഒന്ന് ടി.വി. യില്‍ വരട്ടെ..ഒരു പാടു പേര്‍ നല്ല അഭിപ്രായവുമായി വിളിക്കും..പരാജയപ്പെട്ടതെങ്ങിനെ എന്ന് പരിതപിക്കും..

    പാസ്സഞ്ചര്‍ തീയേറ്ററില്‍ കണ്ട അന്ന് മുതല്‍ ഈ ബ്ലോഗ്‌ ഫോളോ ചെയ്യുന്ന ഒരാളാണ് ഈയുള്ളവന്‍..അത് കൊണ്ട് തന്നെ പറയട്ടെ, താങ്കളുടെ അടുത്ത സിനിമ മനോഹരമായ ഒന്നാവും (ക്രിട്ടിക്കലി / കമേര്‍ഷ്യലി) എന്ന് ഉറച്ച് വിശ്വസിക്കാന്‍ തന്നെയാണ് എനിക്കിഷ്ടം..

    “മെയ്‌ ഫ്ളവര്‍” എന്ന പേരില്‍ ഒരു പ്രണയ ചിത്രം എടുക്കുന്നതിനെ പറ്റി എവിടെയോ വായിച്ചു..മലയാളത്തില്‍ വളരെ അപൂര്‍വ്വമായേ പ്രണയ ചിത്രങ്ങള്‍ വരാറുള്ളൂ (പ്രണയം, എല്ലാ സിനിമകളിലും ഒരു തിന്‍ ലൈന്‍ ആയി ഉണ്ടെങ്കിലും..”ഫീല്‍” ചെയ്യുന്ന പ്രണയ ചിത്രങ്ങള്‍ കണ്ടിട്ടില്ല..)
    നല്ല ഒരു പ്രണയ ചിത്രം (വില്ലന്മാരില്ലാത്ത, വളച്ചുകെട്ടില്ലാത്ത, ലളിതമായ, ഇത്തിരി ലൈറ്റ്‌ ഹ്യൂമര്‍-തിരക്കഥ രചന റെഡിമെയ്ഡ് കുപ്പായം വാങ്ങുന്ന പോലെ അല്ല എന്ന അറിയാം..എന്നാലും !!! ) ഉള്ള ഒരു പ്രണയകാവ്യം പ്രതീക്ഷിക്കുന്നൂ..”മെയ്‌ ഫ്ളവര്‍” – നല്ല പേര്..ഒരു വിരഹവും, പ്രണയവും മണക്കുന്നൂ..

    എല്ലാ ആശംസകളും…

    -സിജിത്‌

    • Thanks sijith.I watched autograth yesterday.It was a good watch.

  2. yo..Keep gng..All the BEST

    • Thanks navneeth

  3. waiting for your next project and am sure it will b a click the screen…the audience are looking for something special and you know to some extent that what people wants…All the best…keep going with new projects…

    • thanks..hope so:)

  4. Hi Friend

    You got to believe that there is a whole lot of fans and movie lovers waiting for your next project announcement and the movie release. Heard the movie is titled “Mayflower” and its a musical starring Prithviraj. ALL THE BEST. Arjunan Sakshi was not a bad movie but i would say it was not very complete compared to Passenger. But still, a good movie with a message. Somehow it did not click as expected. Deep inside, you know you can do it again.

    So please come out from that writer’s block (or whatever you call it ). Forget the audience, Forget the last 2 movies, Just focus on the subject and script and then rest will follow friend.

    Whatever be the movie, whoever is starring, i will be watching your movie FDFS 🙂

    • Thanks neoh.WIll try:)

  5. Hi,
    I was quite surprised to find that you have a blog.
    I LOVED both Passenger and Arjunan Sakshi. I think both have incredible cinematic flair and craft. Please dont get disappointed and stop trying.
    We need more film makers like you.

    • Thanks jina.

  6. It is true that a writer can win over the mental block only by writing more… all waiting for your next movie…

    • Thanks salil.

  7. hi..,
    its realy nice to know about your new project.
    Proud of film makers like you, who thinks apart from a business cinema..
    Be there to be a part of new movement..

    hope may flower can bring a spring season in theaters..

    • Well i hope the same dilleep:)

  8. ALL THE BEST FOR THE NEXT VENTURE………..

    • Thanks binoy.

  9. Dear Ranjith,

    It is movies like the ones you have crafted that form the slim hope for the Malayalam Film Industry. However, you will need to approach this outlet of your passion for the films, like a business so that you can succeed.

    I am an experienced management consultant in the USA and looking from outside in, I would like to share my perspective with you. I hope it is useful to you.

    1. As in any business, you will have to look at the value proposition to your consumer/costumer and rethink how you plan to deliver your product (film) to them with your operating model. Consider your value-proposition first:
    • Which segments/demographics of the customer base are you targeting for your films? How can you align your films to those target market-segments? How can you listen to your consumer and align your films (product) to your costumer using social marketing?
    • Consider you and your film as a brand. Your brand speaks to the consumer/customer a performance story and an emotional story. Branding is a means to gain traction with your consumer, only if you pursue it diligently. Yours is a new brand in a market where the old brands will have to fight for relevance (not vice-versa).
    • Keep your consumer/customer first always. Do not underestimate their intelligence or contribution or proximity to you. They will need to decide to use their disposable income on a premium consumer experience that is delivered through your film. Use that premium consumer experience with your film as your competitive advantage. Define your go-to-market strategy for your films from outside in, as opposed to from the inside out.

    I am just beginning to scratch the surface of how you can transform our Malayalam film industry one film at a time. You will have to look at every component of the business model and be innovative about your approach. Look at your value-chain (development, pre-production, principal production, post-production, marketing, distribution, exhibition), cost model, organization (team), revenue stream, etc.

    Please continue to think out of the box – literally.

    What I mean is that you should consider the global film industry best-practices as your frame of reference. In a global industry that is going through globalization, convergence, digitization and business innovation, your business potential should be compared and pitched with global film industry leaders and not with that of the dismal state-of-affairs in our Malayalam (or for that matter Indian) film industry. That is only way we can pull ourselves out of the dismal state-of-affairs our industry is in. Let us begin by daring ourselves to call a spade, a spade.

    We have Malayalis (for that matter Indians) all over the world, that are part of your consumer-base. We would all like to see movies from Kerala (India) that we can be proud of, rather than cringe when we see them. By the way, a rather large consumer base, we always decide to spend our disposable income on movies from Hollywood and from other film industries that are from all over the world, all the time. The movies that come out of our Malayalam (or Bollywood or Tollywood or Kollywood) film industries are a waste of time, leave alone of any value for the money spend. It is a shame, because the Indian film industry produces close to 1000 films a year – with Hindi 17%, Tamil 16%, Telugu 14%; Kannada 11%; Malayalam 8%, Bengali 9%, Marathi 9%, Bhojpuri 5%, Gujarati 5%, Other 6%. And yet, not even 10% of them break-even, leave alone make any profit. No doubt that we have the potential, but our industry has lot of room for improvements where it matters – in our development, execution and delivery.

    This may not be the right forum for such detailed findings or recommendations. If you are interested, please reach out to me via my email address – knowledgepro@msn.com

    I sincerely wish the best for you and our Malayalam film industry.

    Best regards,

    Sajeev

    • So kind of u to write such a big note sajeev.Defenitely will talk more.

    • Hi Ranjith,

      I hope all is well at your end. We have a long weekend here in the USA – July 4th is Independence Day here.

      I did not hear from you since you responded to my comment on June 22nd. Please reach out on my email address when you get a chance.

      Best regards,

      Sajeev

  10. Don’t feel bad in the failure of ‘Arjunan Sakshi’ in the box office. It was one of the few good malayalam movies released this year. It’s sad that people are only cheering for masala movies these days. And it takes a great effort to put a good movie like Arjunan Sakshi.

    I sincerely wish that your next movie will be a great success and i hope you maintain the consistency which defines a good director. We enjoyed travelling in your ‘Passenger’ and liked ‘Arjunan Sakshi…

    All the best and do keep writing 🙂

    • Thanks Parameshwaran

  11. Sure sajeev.U can reach me at ranjithsankar@gmail.com

  12. I have watched both of your works which are awesome. Both are great in its own ways. I loved Passenger for its unique out of the box script which didn’t have any usual commercial elements. Its very rare to get characters like “Sathyanathan” which changed my lifecourse in a better way.
    It was great to see Arjunan Sakshi, thank god it released in chennai. It was a great movie too but the only part that I didnt like is the usual slow motion shots for the lead character. Otherwise its was a wonderful work I loved throughout.

    Good Luck for your Project 🙂 Waiting for the May flower to blossom soon….

    • thanks koushik

  13. all d best ranjithetta………..u’ll b bck wid a bang……….pinne lead actorsinte likebility ennathu oru filminte successinu inevitabilanu……plz dnt forget dat….

    • thanks anu..i havent decided on my lead actor.hope u will all like him once i do.

  14. Dear Ranjith,

    Am a ‘marunadan malayalee’, who doesnt get to see the malayalam movies much in theaters over here in US. I saw your both films through net. I should say, If I was in Kerala or rather India, I would have surely seen your movies multiple times in theaters. You have really given people like me a nostalgic feeling of not being in Kerala during these wonderful times, when people like you are creating such good movies and we feel very bad in not being there to support your movies. You have become one of my favourite directors and especially for the young generation. Appreciate your dedication and hardwork. Please never stop creating more interesting, bold and thought provoking movies like these. Its people like you who give us confidence and hope for us to come back to our home land irrespective of slow growth and corruption.

    From a humble well wisher.
    Thanks for making us proud.
    Regards,
    Tony Isacc

    • Thanks Tony.U made my day:)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: