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Abhishek Pathak: "We were pretty sure Drishyam 2 would work"

This interview was first published in The Telegraph by the same author.

Director Abhishek Pathak is processing the overwhelming response to Drishyam 2, starring Ajay Devgn, Tabu, and Akshaye Khanna, which is in its third week at the theatres. In a candid conversation, Abhishek talks about his vision for Drishyam 2, what he has learnt from Ajay Devgn over the years, exploring the unexplored aspects of films and filmmaking, and the possibility of Drishyam 3.

How does it feel to give your first big hit as a director?

It always feels good, whether it’s your first film or second, third or fourth. A hit film for an ardent filmmaker is always a good feeling. That’s what we look for. We make films for the audience and when they come to watch the film in theatres in huge numbers, it’s a win-win for all.

When you produced Drishyam seven years ago, did you ever think you would direct its sequel someday?

Never. Even when the Malayalam Drishyam 2 was announced and when I saw the film, I didn’t plan to direct the film. When the question came up of who would direct the film, my dad (Kumar Mangat Pathak) told me to give it a thought. It was a big responsibility. The Malayalam film as well as Nishi Sir (late director Nishikant Kamat) had set a big benchmark. I took my time and then thought let me do it because as a producer I had a certain vision for the film. And if that doesn’t get translated to the director, then it might not be the film I was thinking of. So, I said yes to directing the film.

So, what was your vision for the sequel?

The first thing that I wanted to do a lot was to work on screenplay writing. What we loved about the Malayalam sequel were the story and climax. But I wanted to set the film in a certain mood and pace for the Hindi audience. Also, when we make thrillers, we usually don’t focus on visual storytelling and sound. So, that’s what we did in this film; the treatment of visuals, colour palette, how the film was to be shot, and the sound.

We were clear that we wanted a very good BGM (background music). A thriller needs a good BGM. There’s so much scope for BGM in thrillers to create the mood and mystery about the whole world. That’s what we tried to do and people are loving it.

Even in horror, there’s a lot of scope for it. In India, we do put up songs and all. But I think if you treat BGM like songs as you do for many commercial films, you can really create magic. People should connect with something that they hear while watching the film.

How did you approach directing actors who had already played the same characters seven years ago?

When the actors read the script of the sequel, they loved it. They liked the humour and how we got Gaitonde back with some other characters and the way we had designed the film in the writing itself. They have seen me as a producer, and they have seen me winning a National Award for a short film, so they had an idea about what I would bring to the film. They showed trust in me and I think I delivered pretty well for them. It’s been a good journey working with such brilliant actors.

The audience seems to have participated wholeheartedly in Vijay Salgaonkar’s quest to protect his family. Has the ‘common man got the better of the system’ angle worked best for the film?

Everyone connected with Vijay Salgaonkar and his family’s journey in part one. So, they were looking forward to part two. It’s an underdog story. People don’t know that this character could do something that they were thinking. And suddenly when he does it, people clap for it. He (Vijay) won when nobody thought he would win, which we all love in cinema. Be it Lagaan or any other film like that, it’s a victory for the audience. They love the underdog winning and we delivered it to them with beautiful twists and turns.


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