Peter Chan draws on Bollywood for musical Perhaps Love


Mumbai: "When I thought of making a musical, the first thing that came to my mind was Bollywood", said Peter Chan on selecting Farah Khan as choreographer for his musical Perhaps Love. The film was showcased at IFFI-Goa, 2008. The Jury Chairperson said, "It was a decision on first sight, no questions about it."
Chan said that he is not a student of Indian cinema but he has been exposed to it and he thought of drawing on it for this musical. He expressed his admiration for the way India has been able to keep its tradition. He said that the depth of tradition is evident in the difficulties that Hollywood is facing in making inroads in the Indian film landscape. "In China, people cannot speak English but they like Hollywood movies. In India people speak English but they like Indian films," the director commented.
Speaking at a press conference, Chan said that portrayal of love for him is that of love lost. He said love is not an interesting thing for a film. Falling in and falling out hold more interest for a filmmaker, he said. He added, "I am too old for ‘falling in’ so I concentrate on falling out."
Elaborating on Perhaps Love the director said that the musical format gave him a larger canvas to explore emotions at a more over-the-top level, reminiscent of the old Hollywood. "Musical gives me a stagy background which gives me more freedom to get away with anything," he added.
On his film Warlord, the opening film of the festival, Chan said that in the backdrop of a war-torn world he tried to delineate some grey characters. "It is seen as an anti war movie but I look at it more as a loss-of-innocence movie," said the director. About the war scenes and choreography in the movie Chan said that violence in Chinese films is beautiful which hides the reality of it. Stylized presentation of violence takes away the horror of it and in Warlords he made conscious efforts to project the raw version of violence.
On being asked about his experience as the head of jury, Chan said that films in the competition section are an eclectic mix of movies ranging from melodrama to horror. "We had very interesting five days watching them, and we had unanimous picks," said the director, adroitly steering clear from giving away any secrets.
The director found his experience of making films in Hollywood ‘not very pleasant’ because in a studio system the director is not very important. While in the Asian system there will not be a film if the director does not decide to make it. In Hollywood you are responsible to a committee and it is all very political, said the director.
He said that making a film for the Mainland China market gives a bigger canvas than the restricted city-based experience that Hong Kong provides. But at the same time there are censorship restrictions. He added that period films are safe, but conveying more modern issues of today’s social life can bring in the restrictions.
As a response to decline in the number of films, eight to 10 times over the last 15 years, the director has taken to co-production on the lines of some of the European filmmakers. One fallout of this approach has been that dialogue-driven films are not encouraged as they have local appeal and are not suitable for multiple cultural context that co-production entails.
He said that filmmaking is about heart not techniques. Techniques come later when you have to challenge yourself. You can assemble great technicians to take care of technical aspect but the core remains the idea and the story, the director concluded.