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    Working with Varma made me focused: Jijy Philip

    [Interview by Prashant K. Nanda]
    Monday, August 22, 2005
    His directorial debut "My Wife''s Murder" has just hit the box-office, but 29-year-old Jijy Philip is already on to his next film - again with Ram Gopal Varma.

    "I have been working with Varma for the last five years and the only thing we discuss is films. It''s work, work and work. I must admit that my association with him has made me focused," Philip, a former TV journalist, told IANS here.
    The director, who has assisted Varma in much applauded films like "Jungle", "Company", "Road" and "Bhoot", is now busy preparing for his next venture, "Shock". Varma will produce the film.
    "I have learnt that to make a project successful one needs to be clear about one's plan. Direction is not only about the number of films done but also about being sure of your work.
    "The association has also taught me to understand the emotion of the characters and choose the casting accordingly."
    The commerce graduate said in spite of all this, Varma never tries to interfere. "We used to work to the best of our ability without any intervention. It's all about looking at the subject a little differently."
    Speaking about his experience of making "My Wife's Murder", which stars Anil Kapoor, he said the preparation was one of the biggest challenges as it was his debut film.
    "Definitely, the film was a challenge for me and the final draft of the script was prepared after working on it for six months. The film that is on view today is the 12th draft of the original script.
    "The script was good, but I along with my script writer tried to delve deep into the mind of Ravi Patwardhan, the protagonist. Both of us worked on all kinds of psychological details possible and tried to incorporate them into the film," said Philip who switched to filmmaking from TV journalism.
    "I enjoyed my two years' career in journalism. But that has nothing to do with my present life. There is no point looking back and the effort is to do more films and understand the medium."

    Do you think there would be protests against the film's theme of spousal killing?

    The Telugu version did spark off protests. But the difference between the Telugu and Hindi versions is that in the former the husband purposely planned his wife's death. The whole tagline - 'Ever wished your wife was dead?' - got the moralists uptight. The Hindi version is very different. Here the husband accidentally kills the wife.

    You had earlier planned to release two versions of the same story.

    "Ghalti Se" and "Jaan Boojh Ke" were like two sides of the coin. I thought two endings for the same story was an idea that had never been done before. But finally we abandoned it. The idea of doing the film is to show the whole traumatic emotional journey the husband goes through after he kills his wife.

    It looks like yet another film from your 'factory'.

    Don't be so hasty in dismissing it just because I haven't directed "My Wife's Murder". I feel it's worthy of enormous eyeballing as my own "Sarkar". It's the first production where the story idea is my own.

    Did you ever get murderous thoughts about your wife?

    That was too long ago. When I conceived the story, I wasn't married. So the idea was completely original. Forget about killing one's wife, one does wish many times that one weren't married. It's to do with being nagged, incessantly told what to do and what not to do. No one likes that.

    Anil Kapoor is your partner in producing "My Wife's Murder".

    When I first went to meet him to narrate the story, he immediately wanted to produce it. We plan to produce more films together.

    "My Wife's Murder" is being pitched against Suneel Darshan's "Barsaat".

    I know nothing about "Barsaat". I don't think two films or even three affect the box office. But I like to see women getting drenched in the rain. So to that extent I like "Barsaat". But if the women in rain are accompanied by a family drama then, sorry, that isn't my scene.

    Does "My Wife's Murder" have women in the rain?

    It isn't that kind of a film. It's got a different feel and flavor. It's a film that goes beyond sex and the bed... straight into the head.

    Why did you cast Suchitra and Nandana Sen in the lead?

    Because they looked like the characters to me. I met Suchitra through her husband Shekhar Kapur who's a close friend of mine. I saw she had a strong personality. I remember she had called me after "Daud" and said it was a horrible film. That's when I decided I'd one day take revenge on her by casting her in one of my films. Nandana was my director Jijy Philip's choice. I think he saw her in a commercial.

    Where does Jijy come from?

    He assisted me in "Bhoot". He used to work in a TV channel. He came to interview me, joined me as an assistant and never went back to his work. One day I narrated my story idea and he decided to work on it for three months.

    Why would I want to see a small thriller from your production house after seeing the big "Sarkar"?

    I don't think cinema is big or small. It's just good or bad. I feel the emotional hook-line of "My Wife's Murder" and the sudden eruption of violence between a married couple are things everyone would identify with. And the way Jijy has shot the film is truly international.

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