Indian film director Susi Ganeshan’s first Hindi language movie Shortcut Romeo, which premiered at Cannes and will be released next month, is a Hindi language Bollywood remake of his 2006 romantic thriller Tamil film Thiruttu Payale, one of the highest-grossing Tamil films of that year and winner of the Tamilnadu State Government Award for best film.
At a press gathering yesterday at midtown Manhattan’s Tulsi Restaurant, Ganeshan addressed several differences between the two versions, starting with, Why a remake in the first place?
Noting a current trend for remakes in Indian cinema, Ganeshan pointed to the vast Bollywood marketplace—and audience for Bolly films–compared with that of Tamil language films. He then related the challenges faced by a director who decides to remake one of his own films.
To distinguish Shortcut Romeo from Thiruttu Payale, Ganeshan first chose a different location, setting it in Kenya, of all places, instead of India and Australia. His reasoning was that Kenya provided a location unexposed to Indian filmgoers, who have now journeyed just about everywhere else in the world on screen.
“I filmed in Melbourne for the previous film [Thiruttu Payale], and don’t want to go to a place I previously used,” he explained. “As a creator, I get bored if I copy my own stuff.”
When shooting Shortcut Romeo, Ganeshan likewise faced a “dilemma” in differentiating the camera shots from the Tamil original. “There must be a small change [at least],” he said, moving a water glass on the table where he sat a few inches to illustrate changing camera position and angle.
On an even more fundamental plane, he noted that it was “tough learning Hindi,” as his “mother tongue” is Tamil.
Hence, it was also tough “finding an exact match” in Hindi for the original Tamil title, with Shortcut Romeo serving to evoke the search among the generation represented by the film’s characters for shortcuts to money, fame and success.
Yet Ganeshan does not feel that language is a major barrier in making films.
“The only barrier,” he said, “is [achieving the right] performance, and feel.”
“Feel” was especially important when it came to the music for Shortcut Romeo, which was composed by hit Bollywood composer Himesh Reshammiya.
“He’s a more popular music director than anyone in [Tamil-speaking] South India, and I needed the right music director for the different musical structure of Bollywood,” said Ganeshan. “I explained to him, ‘This is what I want,’ and he gave me a number of options to choose from. We came up with the correct mix of melody songs—which I always love—and fast-paced, peppy dance numbers.”
He singled out the soundtrack’s “Khali Salam Dua,” a melodic romantic ballad sung by Mohit Chauhan, as did Bollywood newcomer Pooja Gupta, the 2007 Miss India Universe, who has a key role in Shortcut Romeo and was also present at Tulsi.
“It’s very meaningful music, subtle and mellow, with the beat of the soul,” said Gupta. “It touches your heart.”
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