INDIAN EXPRESS interview by Kamani Mathai.
First a journalist with 'The Guardian'. Then a novelist in 1973
with 'The Marriage'. Then came a string of nine fiction and two
non-fiction books. And a multiple-award winning movie, 'The Square
Circle', also listed among the Time magazine's-top ten movies
of the year in 1997.
Not to mention a 28 minute film. With Timeri Murari, it seems
like there's more than only one thing going. 'The Only Thing',
the title of his latest film, had its origin in the American saying,
' 'Winning isn't everything. It's the only thing." It has
an all Madras Players cast with Karthik Kumar, P C Ramakrishnan
and Bhagyam Narayanan in the lead roles. Murari also makes an
appearance in the film, Hitchcock style.
The story is about a corrupt politician (P C Ram) who fakes his
own death to escape investigation and Anil finds the ill-gotten
money in his bank account. He then leads the high life.
His almost Stoic to Epicurean conversion begins with his name
(now Adam), his clothes (jazzy-snazzy red jacket from 'veshti'),
friends (from statues of Ganesha to the bad boys and the 'girls
just wanna have fun' types) and apartment (carpet-less floor to
upholstered diwan, air conditioner- everything he needed to make
his 'shudh' Brahmin papa shriek).
"The story is vaguely based on a true story. On a very real
Indian politician. So that covers a whole gamut of sins."
Murari had four other story ideas, but this one was selected over
the others. One of them was about three girls trying to find the
right man (rejected because he knew he'd have "problems shooting
that one in India"). Another, a comedy, was about how gossip
spreads through masseurs ("I knew I'd have problems with
this one too. Who is going to let me film them half-naked and
Shot in and around his house, 'The Only Thing' took just six days
to shoot, Murari having made the film "basically to keep
his name in the record books".
'The Only Thing' was scripted, produced and directed by me. Actually,
the other reason I made 'The Only Thing' was to see if I could
Direct, because he has a full-length movie in mind. "Don't
want to say too much about it because you tend to jinx something
when you talk about it. Let's just say it is about a person trying
to discover himself. He has found out that his mother hasn't told
him evening. Especially about who his father is. It will be set
in India." This too will have an original screenplay. '
So right now, for Timeri Murari, it is direction that has taken
over, while novels seem to have taken a back seat. For a while,