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Bejoy Nambiar: ‘I am influenced by Mani Ratnam’s style’

Filmmaker Bejoy Nambiar on Thursday said he grew up watching Mani Ratnam’s films and the director has had a significant influence on him.

Best known for Shaitan and David, Nambiar said he has assisted Ratnam on multiple projects, including Ponniyin Selvan.

“I’m definitely influenced by his style and storytelling. I try not to get too influenced and incorporate his things (in my films). But that’s my school and I’ve learnt from him, so somehow subconsciously it finds its way, it’s great. It’s my homage to him,” the Kochi-born filmmaker told reporters here at the press conference of OTT series Kaala.

Nambiar was asked about his association with Ratnam and how he has continued to assist the Dil Se filmmaker despite being an established name now.

“I still assist him and I’ll assist him on his next film as well. He is one of the reasons why I got into filmmaking. I’ve grown up watching his films… I don’t think we can ever stop learning, when I have access to a mentor and master like him, I always look for an opportunity to go back and learn,” he said.

Bejoy Nambiar, who has directed Madhuri Dixit Nene-headlined Hindi series The Fame Game and a Tamil original series Sweet Kaaram Coffee, said the experience of working on OTT shows is different from making films.

“It has been a long journey. I’ve done some other (OTT) shows before as a director but that was my testing phase because I’m not used to this format. I’ve only made feature films. I was trying to figure out how long format works, what kind of challenges you face.”

But directing Kaala for Disney+Hotstar felt like venturing into a new territory, he said.

“It was a new turf for me, and nothing prepared me for what entailed Kaala. This show took almost three years to make. There were writers, a creative team from Hotstar, T-series team, my team, so this show has been a massive collaborative effort, there’s an army behind me for this show.”

Billed as an edge-of-the-seat crime thriller, Kaala follows the story of an Intelligence Bureau (IB) officer and a game of power.

Nambiar is known for making dark crime thriller movies like Wazir, and Taish and he said he is drawn towards such stories.

“As a director, I’m drawn to certain kinds of stories, it is not that I would like to restrict myself to do only that. I’m also trying to explore other areas. I’ve done a dysfunctional marriage story, in which no one dies, then I did a film for ZEE called Dobaara, I make these kinds of films,” he added.

Kaala features an ensemble cast of Avinash Tiwary, Rohan Vinod Mehra, Nivetha Pethuraj, Taher Shabbir and Hiten Tejwani.

Also Read | Hiten Tejwani on transitioning to OTT from TV: ‘Wanted to break good looking, positive boy image’

Tiwary said after collaborating with Nambiar for a music video, “Khoya Khoya Chand” from the director’s movie Shaitan, he wanted to be directed by him.

“Over the years, there were some instances when we came close to working with each other. One day, he called me for this (show) and said ‘You will have a great opportunity to perform’. When the story came to me, it touched me, also it is a very engaging thriller,” he added.

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Hiten Tejwani said he is grateful to Nambiar for offering him a different kind of a role in Kaala.

“Bejoy always wanted me to do something different and I was happy that he offered me something different. For an actor it is a good thing if they get to experiment. People have seen me as a good looking, very positive boy. Everybody has shown me that way, but to break that image and show something else is what got me hooked with this show,” he said.

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Kaala, produced by Nambiar, along with T-Series’ Bhushan Kumar and Krishan Kumar, is set to release on September 15 on Disney Plus Hotstar.

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