If M Night Shyamalan were to describe himself, it would be as "the highest paid writer in Hollywood today".
The writer-director has, he points out, helmed two of only three Hollywood movies in recent memory to have stayed on top of the box office charts for six whole weeks: The Sixth Sense, and Signs, with the third being James Cameron's Titanic.
Back in India after a nine and a half year absence, the Philadelphia-based director is busy promoting his next film, The Happening, which will release worldwide Friday, June 13. Appropriate, that date -- "My earlier films all had scary scenes, but this is the first scary movie I have made," the director, known only by his self-awarded middle name 'Night', told a media conference at the Taj Rendezvous, in Mumbai, last evening.
The film marks a departure for the director, who had earlier famously cited creative differences with the "suits at Disney" and walked out on that production house. For the first time, Night will work with an Indian producer -- Ronnie Screwala and UTV Motion Pictures, which is underwriting half the estimated $57 million budget for The Happening.
Night is notoriously reluctant to talk of his movies, prefering the surprises to remain just that. Typically, he was unwilling to discuss the storyline of his latest, but he did provide a clue: "At the core of this film, there is one question: What if you knew you were going to die? What if you knew you had only one minute to live? The breast-beating, the looking for a way to escape -- all that stuff is over; you KNOW you will die, you have one minute of life left. What would you do, what would you say to your partner?"
The answer to that, and other mysteries layered within this film, will unfold Friday the 13th (of June); meanwhile, through these video clips, we present a peek at a film-maker who is as articulate before the cameras as he is when writing for the camera.
Why Shyamalan loves the supernatural
Shyamalan's take on Indian cinema
Shyamalan on his earlier films
Text: Prem Panicker | Video: Rajesh Karkera