By IndiaFM News Bureau
Manoj Nelliattu "SHAH-ma-lawn …better known as M Night, the Indian
American Scriptwriter -Director, is a guy with an uncanny Sixth Sense
which has helped him to break into the Unbreakable. With Alfred
Hitchcock as his inspiration and ‘twist in a tale’ in his genre, he’s hit all the
right Signs in his first ever Sci fi only by following his idol Steven
Haling from The Village of Pondicherry, India, and since long nursing
the film making dream, M Night has today made it real big in US and
created a recognizable niche in Hollywood for himself. His last film Lady in
the water may not have done well with the critics but his attitude and motto
to always be courageous and original can be seen with his latest venture, as
he ties up with UTV and Ronnie Screwaala for his forthcoming film
So get hooked and booked as IndiaFM gets up close and personal
with M Night Shyamalan.
What made you go for an Indian Production house for your next
I always had a desire of mine to do something in India. My first movie
after college was also shot in India. And I wanted to stay connected to
India not only by my films but also career wise. Whenever I do any new
film of think of a new script I always ponder if we can do the opening
sequence in India or if we can do the premier in India. This collaboration
with UTV is a perfect opportunity to connect well with India. I have a huge
fan base in other countries like Italy and France who keep telling me how
amazing The Village was and applaud my work. I want to cultivate a
relationship with Indian people.
How has your experience of working with International studios been?
I have been working with diverse studios and each of them has been
special with regards to the film. Like Warner brothers are best for typically
boy oriented movies where as Fox is more into Sci Fi and Global movies.
While working with these studios there is a complete independent spirit that
is seen between us.
How did the association with Ronnie Screwvala happen?
Ronnie is someone who wants success for everyone. His movies have
been favorites of my children. After hearing about Ronnie from my agents I
had called him to Philadelphia to spend a day with me. While he was here
for a meeting I went to meet him like a family person with my two small
girls and wife over a brunch. We meet more like family then like
You spoke about your Indian connection. Are you casting Indian
actors in this movie?
I always try to cast ethnically diverse people in my movies. So for
example The Village was a different movie and therefore it was difficult to
cast someone of Indian origin in that movie, as I need to keep in mind my
global perspective. As my movies are watched by global audience and they
need to relate with the character. But if hopefully I find a good place, I shall
definitely do that.
What are the advantages of co producing according to you?
Choosing the partner I chose, I can really say that Ronnie and I get to
own the movie. Also in this case, the risk is half in co-production for the
studio as a result they invest into 20 movies thereby reducing the risk if the
movie fails to make it commercially.
What is the storyline for this movie?
It is paranoia movie for 90 minutes with its link based in 1960’s,
something innocuous that will make you wonder about what will happen
ahead. It is related to a family in apocalyptic event, invasion of body
snatchers. Well that’s the template with heavy suspense and thriller.
You are known as the next Spielberg. Is it a motivation factor for
I know Steven and he has been very supportive. But when I think who
I am, I relate best with a writer who closes his doors and writes his story. I
am a director who adapts screen plays. And for that matter I relate best
with Agatha Christie, someone who is making more and more stories.
Steven is my hero and also one who got me in movies. My pattern of
movies may be repeated but I don’t make movies for money. But after a
movie opens, it is suffocated by its brothers and sisters. It’s only after
some time that it is allowed to meet its brothers and sisters.
There is a rising period for any movie and therefore each decision that
you make is very important from the movie’s commercial success.
Which is you favorite India movie.
Well, I don’t really watch too much of Hindi movies, though my wife
Important aspects that you kept in your mind while writing this script
Well the story is global and locations are global. In a crude way it is a big
movie that happens and will do well in India and outside US. I do tend to
ask people about what they like and what they would want to watch.
How did Fox Studios work out?
Well I told them that they need to finance the movie. You see there is a
balancing act that you need to do when you are working with the studios. If
you don’t tell them your terms then they will tell you their terms, at the
same time you need to make them feel that it is their baby. So that they
ensure that the movies reaches the best theatres and is well distributed
across also in terms of marketing.
Has there ever been a disagreement between you and the studio over
I won’t go ahead with the script if the studio doesn’t like even a single
page in the script. In my experience with studios there was only one bad
conversation I had with a studio and I still love that studio. I am still in
touch with the studio but at that time we parted our way on a good note. I
would be more than open to work with them in the future. Though it was
blown out of proportion. I won’t make a movie if the studio is not
convinced about my rationale. For that matter it was wonderful working
with Warner brothers, they are the best creative people in the world. In the
end, you need to find the right match, the right courtship since you make a
variety of movies. My experience with studio across has been ideal and
they have always let me have my will in making the movie.
If the equation has been ideal, why change and get some other studio
No, the industry model is different. You make 20 movies and co
produce all of them. If I get the third party like I chose to have Ronnie then
the model gives more creative freedom to all involved and hence there can
be a variety of movies.
Is this how you get your finance in the future?
I don’t have the right to bring in my partner if I am working on a movie
like Silence of the Lambs. In that case it is a book and I have to work with
the ones they choose to involve.
Have you decided on the cast for this movie?
Well, I just had lunch with one of the actors yesterday and I guess in a
couple of weeks it will be decided on the cast.
What do you think of Indian actors?
You mean Indian Actors or Bollywood actors.
Well, I am curious about the language they use and I tend to get very
emotional while watching the movies. There is pushing pushing and then
they stop and then again they push push push … (Laughs) I would love to
shoot a small movie with a supernatural theme with Bollywood actors.
I would love to shoot a small movie with a supernatural theme with
Which is you favorite Bollywood movie?
The one in which you have the guy who comes in every movie
Amitabh Bachchan or Shahrukh Khan?
Shahrukh Khan I guess, the scene in which he catches her hand…
Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham?
Kuch Kuch Hota Hai with Shahrukh Khan and Kajol
Well I don’t know the name but I shall definitely find out. The lady is
very human in that movie with her expressions
Who is your favorite actor?
Shahrukh Khan is great and he reminds me of Mel Gibson. He has a
good body and passion for acting. But I think Kajol is very poignant and is
a very good actress at portraying humanity and emotions.
What do you think about Ronnie’s films like Rang de Basanti?
Well I haven’t seen them but if he sends across then I shall definitely
Why are all your movies revolving around the same theme and what is
it about shooting in Philadelphia?
(Laughs) I was at a museum and looking at different artifacts and many
of them reflect the same art again and again but it seems to be very
beautiful. Similarly look at Agatha Christie’s books they are all the same.
On an artistic front I have 8 ideas for movies but they all are very different
from each other.
Philadelphia is my home and I always try to work around in here so
that I can give time to my family. I don’t want to miss out on my girls’ first
skating lesson. You know I wanna be there with them when their tooth falls
and be excited about it. And tell them hey its cool the thing has fallen.
For me exterior London is away from family. If I write exterior
London I need to be there to control and being there means away from my
family. But if I write exterior Philadelphia then I can stay here and be with
them. I am doing a film with Paramount where the film has been shot in
different locations. It was only after my wife and my seven year old kid
told me I always wanted to do a Marshal Arts movie and forced me to take
it up. I have offers to do huge movies but I haven’t taken any because I
wanna be here with my girls and my wife.
Philadelphia is my home and I always try to work around in here so
that I can give time to my family
How have you taken failure after your last movie?
I won’t phrase it the way you did. Actually, it was an entire confluence
that affected the commercial success of the film. And I love that movie so
you better be careful cos I will quote every book that has failed.
Don’t judge movies from commercial success, this is an artistic
venture and will be risky. On a personal note it’s my job to be brave and I
have been brave.
Will you be here for the premier of the movie?
(Laughs) Well Ronnie will definitely want me to be there and yes I shall