'Malamaal...' is Priyadarshan's tribute to Hrishikesh Mukherjee

Mar 10, 2006 Subhash K. Jha

Mumbai, March 11 (IANS) Director Priyadarshan says he is paying a tribute to well-known filmmaker Hrishikesh Mukherjee in his new film.

"'Malamaal Weekly' is my tribute to one of my favourite directors, Hrishikesh Mukherjee. I have always been a great fan of Hrishida," Priyadarshan told IANS.

"'Hungama' was a comedy of errors. 'Hera Pheri' was a comedy of poverty. 'Hulchal' was a family comedy. 'Garam Masala' was a comedy targeted at youngsters. Now 'Malamaal Weekly' is my first real Indian comedy.

"This is the first time I'm not doing a remake. There isn't a bit of artificiality this time."

In his new film, the prolific Priyadarshan pays homage to not only Hrishikesh Mukherjee but also novelist R.K. Narayan.

"While making the film I had one clear visual picture of novelist R.K. Narayan's fictional south Indian town Malgudi from 'Malgudi Days'," says Priyadarshan.

Luckily, art director Sabu Cyril constructed a whole set that lived up to this vision.

"He had earlier erected a village set for my 'Virasat'. This time he has done an equally good job on the outskirts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala."

Speaking about the two enormously talented leading men of the film, Paresh Rawal and Om Puri, he laughs, "They are like Pran and Ashok Kumar in Brij Sadanah's 'Victoria No. 203'.

"Like Navin Nischol and Saira Banu in 'Victoria No. 203', there's a romantic sub-plot with Riteish Deshmukh and Reema Sen. But I admit Paresh and Om are the heroes of 'Malamaal Weekly'. And also full credit to Rajpal Yadav who's playing the villain."

After Akshay Kumar and John Abraham in "Garam Masala", it's Om and Paresh doing the Tom & Jerry act for Priyadarshan. "My job is made half-difficult when working with actors like Om and Paresh. I don't have to guide them."

The director admits there was a healthy rivalry between the two talented actors.

"The rivalry was certainly there, and quite understandable. And we all laughed over it. There was a definite edge of competitiveness between Om and Paresh. It was very healthy but it was very, very fierce.

"One could see Om and Paresh's determination to outdo each other. But you know what? The maturity with which they handled their rivalry makes their togetherness on screen look very positive."

He stops to look at the film's prospects. "I'm not bothered about the success or failure of 'Malamaal Weekly'. I am very sure I have made a very cute film.

"I have rarely felt so proud after completing a film. My earlier films took away my sense of achievement because I had made them before. This time I am not remaking my own film. It makes me feel very good."

Priyadarshan thinks people are in for a good time. "I'm hoping they'll laugh fully. 'Malamaal Weekly' isn't a slapstick or a thriller. The comedy is treated in a realistic way.

"Yet it has all the ingredients of a commercial film. It all depends on how many people will come on the first day," Priyadarshan crosses his fingers about the lack of conventional stars at the helm of the film.

"Only word of mouth can help 'Malamaal Weekly'. There's no Salman (Khan) or Shah Rukh (Khan). And I hope my reputation helps," says he.

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