I want to shoot films like Steven Spielberg: P S Mithran

The director of Irumbu Thirai and Sardar on five films that influenced his life and filmmaking choices.

Published: 16th November 2022 09:04 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th November 2022 09:04 AM   |  A+A-


By Express News Service

Anjathey (2008)
“Anjathey is the film that made me go, ‘That’s it, I need to be a filmmaker and make films like this.’ Yes, I had the aspiration to pursue filmmaking even before, but Anjathey gave me the final push. I vividly remember the opening shot that looks widely at the sky and three goons enter the frame. The camera begins to track them but we don’t register the movement because of the parallax effect, and then we see Ajmal doing push-ups. I was blown away by the shot and went, ‘Ennada padam idhu!’ Anjathey was a revelation in many ways, consisting of numerous mind-boggling shots. Be it the fight sequence focused on legs, the shot in which Narain realises the injured person he is carrying on his bike is dead, or the shot of a pole serving as a tool for time-lapse, the film is filled with shots that I can keep talking about for hours.”

Zodiac (2007)
“Zodiac looked at the investigative thriller genre from completely different lenses, through the prism of normality. The focus is as much on the mundane lives of these journalists as much on the violent murders they are investigating. The film steers clear of rhetoric and it lends only more gravity and effectiveness to the proceedings. From this film, David Fincher gave me the idea of how to shoot something ultra-real and still lend a cinematic quality to it. Two people sitting at their desks and skimming through documents is not a dramatic act but Fincher made even that look cinematic. You can say Zodiac served as a clear inspiration for many of the elements in the espionage portions of Sardar.” 

Schindler’s List (1993)
“The influence of Alfred Hitchcock in Steven Spielberg’s is palpable. For instance, in Spielberg’s films, some shots begin as a close-up and end as a wide shot, all in a single stretch. I want to shoot my films like Spielberg does, where there is a fluidity in the shots. Schindler’s List is perhaps his most calm and composed film in terms of the staging and it has many wonderful sequences, both with their superior visual quality and their strong emotional undercurrent. The scene towards the end where Oscar Schindler feels he could have saved more Jews from the death camp is absolutely beautiful. I think it has the best cinematography in Spielberg’s filmography. The idea to introduce real-life survivors in the end of the film served as an inspiration to do something similar in my Hero.”

The Prestige (2005)
“I remember being blown away by this film when I first watched it in the theatre and it remains a one-of-a-kind experience to date. I felt mentally stimulated while watching it and no other film before nor after this has even come close to this. It just made me keep thinking about it. And as someone who likes to think, and build bridges and structures in my mind, this film was an amazing experience. I think The Prestige is the film that impacted me the most in a movie theatre.”

Alien (1979) 
“Ridley Scott is my favourite filmmaker because each film of his feels distinct without any traces of his previous works. I just couldn’t believe that Thelma & Louise, Alien, Gladiator, Blade Runner, The Duelists, White Squall, Black Rain, A Good Year and Kingdom of Heaven are directed by the same filmmaker. I picked Alien from his filmography because right from the title formation, everything about this film is fantastic, making you wonder who the brain behind this creation is. I had a different film in my mind before watching it but it turned out to be something else, something more realistic. And this film’s villain has been a huge inspiration for my villains; a person who looks at great danger as great beauty.”

(As told to Ram Venkat Srikar)


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