Sriram Raghavan, who has received a positive response from the audience and critics alike for his just released thriller "Andhadhun", says he should be making more films to find his signature because otherwise he feels like a debutant in each of his films.
Raghavan, who has made films like "Johnny Gaddaar", "Ek Hasina Thi", "Agent Vinod" and "Badlapur", told IANS: "I should make more films to find my signature I guess... I make such less number of films, and that too (with a) gap of years, that every time I gear up to direct a film, it feels like a debut film.
"Really, I am not joking. I asked my assistant director, 'Should I say roll sound, camera and action or roll camera, sound and action'" quipped the Film and Television Institute of India graduate.
"As a filmmaker, I want to bring some value, some thought in the mind of my audience. When I embark on the journey of storytelling, I am an explorer," he added.
From Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Urmila Matondkar, Dharmendra to Varun Dhawan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Ayushmann Khurrana -- Raghavan has worked with a lot of stars. But what's unique is that he presents them in a very different way in his films.
Does he make a conscious effort to do it?
"When I saw Varun, I found that he has such a vibrant energy, and is a young chap who has the passion to do something... He has so much enthusiasm. I thought how exciting it would be to take him out of that 'being energetic' comfort zone, and turning him into a chap who is just of the opposite nature," Raghavan said.
He believes such an idea also challenges actors to do more and discover their ability as performers.
"I remember how, in the beginning, Varun used to go over-the-top on emotional scenes, and then I used to direct him to do exactly the opposite of what he just did," Raghavan said, breaking into laughter.
Asked if roping in actors like Varun, Tabu and Ayushmann adds commercial value to a niche project, Raghavan, most of whose films are thrillers, said: "Not all the projects can be done by stars."
Citing the example of a critically acclaimed film like "Mukti Bhawan", he said: "That was such a gem, but can you imagine a Bollywood superstar narrating any character of that film? No, that film demanded those talents, those faces to make it a piece of art. In 'Andhadhun', I needed to cast Tabu, Ayushmann, Radhika and everyone in the film."
"Yes, looking at their body of work, their involvement, took the film into a more commercial zone but it was not forceful," he added.
Raghavan does not take the pressure of box office numbers.
Considering that the representation of female characters is changing in the Indian film industry, does he keep it in mind as a filmmaker to play a catalyst in the conversation around women empowerment?
"I do not think that when I write a female character, I intend to reflect my thoughts on gender equality, but I always make sure that my female character is not decorative, they are human, they are good, bad, complex and close to reality. My women characters should not exist only to play the 'love interest' of a male character.
"My idea is to write a story where every character is well etched out, irrespective of their gender. Because they all are human beings and stories are on the situation and human mind."