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09. I dont want instant success
     By Smitha Sadanandan, The Hindu, 28th June 2002

As the Himalayan snow melts, deep down in the Kumaon Valley, the myth of Bokshu spins a web of intrigue and black magic. Shyamaprasad has just returned from the Himalayas, where he had been shooting "Bokshu, the Myth", his film in English. The director is busy wrapping up the international project, which will be released across four countries.

The foreigners in the cast comprise British actors Steven Berkoff and David Millbern, and American stage actress Heather Prete. The Indian cast includes Nandana Sen, daughter of Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, Irfan Khan, Harish Patel and Vineeth. "The film is based on "Mriganthak", a Hindi novel by Gangaprasad Vimal, which has been translated into Malayalam, "Vyaghram", Paul Zachariah suggested it could be adapted to the screen.

The novel is in the format of a journal and we have modified it into a more dramatic form."

The script for the film has been written by Shyamaprasad, along with Sashi Warrier and Richard Stanley, Jaled, a village in the Himalayas, is where the myth of Bokshu is unveiled. The story centers on two American anthropologists who come in search of their lost professor and the adventures they encounter. Torben Forseberg cranks the camera, while Thota Tharani is the production designer. Kumaon, popularized by Jim Corbett's stories on man eater tigers and leopards, lends to the film an air of mystery. The natives of Kumaon valley believe in black magic and this superstition has been woven into the theme of the film.

Why did he take a break after "Agnisakshi?" "I was making serials and decided to continue until I found a script that will fascinate me with its potential for visual exploration."

Ask him about his dream project and he says, "I had planned a film on O V Vijayan's novel, "Khazakinte Ithihasam". But since I was committed to this project, I decided to wait until next year to begin work. I had spent two years in a lifetime is pretty long. I had to ensure that the film was good."

It would be hypocritical, he says, were he to make films that he did not believe in. "I know there will always be people who can appreciate an honest work, even if the film does not fit into the commercial mould." Ask him about his favourite directors and films, and he replies, "This can be a pretty long list. My Indian favourite is Satyajit Ray's Apu trilogy. Then there's Benegal. Among
Hollywood film makers, there's Woody Allen, Coppolla… I like the 'dark humor' in western films."

Any regrets in life? "Yes. An Old Bhagavathar from Kalpathy would come to teach me and my brother music. But I would speak off to play cricket. I wish I had learnt classical music. I missed out on a very good opportunity."

So what does Shyamaprasad do to fulfill this earnest desire? "I'm composing music these days using computer software. I'm learning more about music, because it is one of the most important components in a film."

Was film making a dream he cherished? "Not exactly. Back in school and in college, I used to write plays. As I wasn't keen on stage performances, I would be entrusted with the costumes and stage settings."

He graduated in theatre arts and did his masters in media production at the University of Hull, U. K. Back in Kerala, he served with Doordarshan and graduated to making serials and then films.

He says he is in search of a "resonance" in films that will reach out to a "discerning audience" across the globe. "I do not believe in making films for the sake of money or instant success."
 
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