Talented and versatile Rupesh Paul is an Indian film director, screenwriter and poet from Kerala. Currently, the man is in news for creating a lot of buzz with his new movie Saint Dracula 3D. Tellychakkar.com entered into a candid chat with Rupesh. Excerpts…
Your film does a revisionist take on the Dracula myth and was sent to the Oscars. What prompted you, as an Indian director, to probe the life and lusts of the Prince of Wallachia, a theme that appears far removed from our culture and roots?
First of all, ‘Saint Dracula 3D’ is an experimental film which defies all the conventional stereotypes of ‘Dracula’ being the archetypal vampire. As for me, ‘Dracula’ is the most widely misinterpreted characters of literature that has been purposely projected as the epitome of horror. When you take world cinema, there have been almost 217 films based on the theme of ‘Dracula’ as the blood sucking vampire. Surprisingly, most of which are B grade flicks (with exceptions like ‘Nosferatu’ by F.W Munrau) which are only meant to gross money in the name of horror. We even have films of this genre coming from places like Pakistan, Turkey etc.
There has been any number of accomplished Dracula films abroad. What made you think you could add anything to the legend?
What I am trying to project through my movie is the image of Dracula as a fervent lover. I strongly believe that the villainous image of Dracula is the part and parcel of a cunningly organized campaign to malign the original attributes of the character. So in an endeavour to comprehend and capture the historical facets of Dracula, I had started following the footsteps of the greatest historical figure of Romania, the Prince of Wallachia. The 15th century warrior prince had fought several gruesome wars to save the Church from perishing but in course of time and history became the blood thirsty vampire of the myths and folklores. I wanted to highlight this savior image and proclaim that Dracula was never a devil’s worshipper who is against God or Catholicism. ‘Saint Dracula’ is a humble attempt to delve deeply into the multi – dimensionalities of the title character. It is essentially a poetic tale of love and passion with which I can personally relate. I would like to consider ‘Dracula’ as a saint who worshipped love rather than a sinner who sucked blood out of the virgins. The movie is an artistic experiment rather than a commercial venture.
You've also done a film deconstructing the smile of Mona Lisa. What makes you pick such esoteric sensuous subjects?
‘The Secret Diaries of Monalisa’ is another movie which is born out of pure aesthetic temperament. Like everybody else, I am also intrigued by Monalisa’s smile. While researching about the theme, I have found that there are thousands of theories about Monalisa’s smile. All these have come out of the government funded researches done by the so called ‘intellects’ of the developed countries. None of the theories seem to be authentic or real. From this curiosity arouse the idea of tracing the truth behind the smile. Interestingly, I had got a beautiful script and screenplay for the film. While shooting with a small budget, the theme had outgrown our expectation and demanded a large canvas. Unfortunately, the film is shelved because of insufficient funds. It can be resurrected, if we get an enthusiast who can finance this unique endeavour.
Saint Dracula went to the Oscars. Were you seriously hopeful of being shortlisted?
Talking about the Oscar nomination, to get shortlisted in the preliminary list is not a great achievement. If you follow the mandatory technical and aesthetic qualifications, you can get enlisted. An accurate dealing while filing the application can also be helpful in getting nominated. We consider this just as a first step for more perfection and planning in the future.
And now it's Kamasutra, and that too in 3D. How faithful have you been to the original Kamasutra text? Are we going to witness a sexual revolution unfold through your film? How explicit is the content?
For me, ‘Kamasutra 3D’ is an opportunity to present my own outlook of beauty and its manifestations. The movie is an audacious attempt to deal with the inherent sensuality of the human species with reference to Vatsyayana’s Kamasutra. Essentially, the movie is a saga of love which verges on sexuality. The theme demands an excessive amount of nudity as the text itself deals with an extensive catalogue of sexual positions. With all respect to Indian culture and tradition, no compromise will be done on the explicit nature of the content. The movie is sure to cross all the false barriers set in our moral and value systems.
Did you select Sherlyn Chopra for the lead in Kamasutra because she was the only Indian actress willing to go all the way?
Sherlyn Chopra is, for sure, is the most convenient choice as she was totally willing to perform without any compromise. We had approached several leading ladies of Bollywood but they all agreed to do just 80% of the scenes. We were quite sure that we need someone who has a 100/200% acceptance. Sherlyn perfectly fitted the slot. She is someone who doesn’t have inhibitions and easy to work with. As we started the shoot, she had turned out to be really talented and co-operative. She also has the earthy look which is required for the character.
If you have taken the nudity and the love-making in Kamasutra to their logical conclusion, do you think the censor board would allow you to get away with it?
As nudity is not forbidden by the law, I am not at all bothered about the censorBboard or the moral police. My policy is to face it as it comes without compromising on the aesthetic value of the work.
What did you think of Mira Nair's Kamasutra?
Mira Nair’s ‘Kamasutra’ was a beautiful movie though it didn’t do justice to the title. It also uses actresses of foreign origin to play the lead roles. To our credit, we use only Indian actors to do total justice to regional flavor of the film.
One of your earlier films which understandably never got past the censors, was entitled The Temptation Between My Legs. Is your cinema fixated on sexual themes? Do you seek to unravel the conundrum of copulation through films which underscore the gender equation?
To be frank, the whole idea of censorboard itself is unnecessary. The audience has the right enjoy the content as it is presented. A creative piece will lose its originality with imposed omissions. Talking about the sexual orientation of my films, I certainly feel that it’s not an accusation to do quality works in a known field rather than venturing into something completely new.
How successful would you consider your cinema to be in terms of mass appeal? Do you get the audience that you want?
Usually my kind of films are not mass pullers but I can assure you that ‘Kamasutra 3D’ will be a paisa vasool film in terms of the commercial calculation. At the same time, it will never disappoint serious movie goers; rather it will be a feast to the eyes of those who love the aesthetics of cinema.
Why has Kamasutra been shot in the 3D format? Is it to make the love-making and nudity more vivid?
3D appears the best format to portray classic erotica, but it was hardly experimented till recently. It had remained as a tool to give the biggest jolt in horror movies. In the film, we are trying to give an extra dimension to the sexual positions described in the ancient treatise on the art of love, through the 3D format.
What sort of release are you planning for Kamasutra?
We plan to premiere the movie on 13 May 13 the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. The commercial release has not yet been planned. 60% of the presales have also been completed.