Monday, May 16, 2011

The ingredients for a box office hit


(As told to Shevlin Sebastian)

Just after the release of my latest film, ‘Chinatown’, I met a US-based Malayali, Valsan, in Kochi, He said, “I have a lot of tension in my life. So I go to see a film to relax. That is why I liked your film, because I could laugh to my heart's content.” For me, hearing something like this is not something new. Over the years, many people have told me that they watch a film to laugh out aloud.

So, a comic touch is vital for a film to do well. But that does not mean that if a film does not have any funny moments, it will not be a hit. The second element is a family drama. The attachments and conflicts between family members can bring tears to the eyes of the audience. One reason why my film, ‘Punjabi House’ became a big hit was because of the melodrama inherent in it.

Other attributes for a hit film: every scene should look good and be interesting. A love scene should be done in a beautiful setting, like on the top of a hill, surrounded by greenery. However, a romantic moment can also be shot in a vegetable market, provided the location looks good.

I find it strange that nearly all conspiracy scenes in Malayalam films are shot in a godown. Two criminals plotting a murder can be shown doing that in a rubber estate or a farmhouse.

Good colour is also vital. In my hit film, ‘Thenkasipattanam’, in every scene, I used the colour yellow. As a result, the viewer felt a sense of continuity. Of course, for a film to do well, there are other important components, like good music and songs, and the presence of superstars.

But I have a secret way on how to identify whether a film will be a hit or not.

There are many glands in the human body. These include the pituitary, the adrenal, and the tear glands. When viewing a film, it is imperative that one or two glands must work. Most probably, it will be the adrenal or the tear glands. If a gland is inactive, the film will not be a hit. After I finish a script and read it, if none of my glands work, I have to go back and rework it.

This might sound fanciful, but, believe me, it is a foolproof method.

(Malayalam film director Mecartin, in collaboration with Rafi, has had several blockbuster hits under the name of Rafi-Mecartin)

(The New Indian Express, Chennai and Delhi)

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