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Noted cinematographer-director Santosh Sivan has just wrapped up his Malayalam film, Ananthabhadram. His other venture, Mistress of Spices, was recently premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. Starring Aishwarya Rai, the film is directed by Paul Meyeda Berges, husband to Gurinda Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham, Bride And Prejudice).

In an exclusive interview to, Sivan gives us a sneak peek into Mistress of Spices.

You made Navarasa at the Koovangam festival in Villupuram without a proper script but everything was well organised for Mistress Of Spices. How different was the experience?

When they ask you to shoot a film abroad, they may be doing it because they feel you can add something more to it than someone from there. As Mistress Of Spices is all about the world of spices inside a shop, they must have thought it good to have someone used to these things. It was a challenge to create a whole world inside a shop though.

The shooting was very organised. It was nice to have all the artistes sitting together for a script reading. Everyone was aware of what would be shot each day. I like the idea of sync shooting because it's fantastic to work in silence.

Considering everything was planned in advance, what about creativity?

In such an atmosphere, you can't take too much time for creative pursuits, but it can surely be done. Whatever you like to do, you can convey it in advance, and they will make amendments for it.

Is working abroad the ultimate dream of every technician and actor?

I don't think so. It is like learning more. When you are working in a place like London, you have new equipment. You also work with big labs, which you always thought were fantastic. But when I made a comparative study of that and Prasad (in Chennai), I found that there was nothing we didn't have. Maybe their labs are a little more clean!

In the case of Mistress Of Spices, I was shooting with a director I knew well. I was happy to do something for him, especially because it was not a typical Hindi film where you have songs, fights, etc. The film was trying to explore the challenges in a shop, which I found interesting.

Interview: Shobha Warrier
Design: Uday Kuckian

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