Om Raut, whose film Adipurush takes on the mighty task of reviving the Ramayana on screen, talks about his idea of cinema and more, in an interview with G20.

Learning about the nation’s history is important for Indian audiences today and filmmakers should take care to stay true to it while making movies, believes director Om Raut, whose upcoming magnum opus Adipurush, starring Prabhas and Saif Ali Khan, takes on the mighty task of reviving the Ramayana on screen. Although the film, scheduled for a big release in 3D in 2022, has already landed itself in a sticky spot due to Saif’s comments on the portrayal of Ravana, Raut says that looking for controversies before even watching the film is not the right way of approaching things. Excerpts from an exclusive interview with him:
Q. You have made films on Lokmanya Tilak and Tanhaji and now you are about to make one on the story of Lord Rama. Is Indian history and mythology going to be your trademark area for films?
A. Mythology is not a word I would use for the Ramayana as I believe it is our history. Moreover, no filmmaker wants to be categorised. What is exciting for me is the core of the story. Personally, historical narratives excite me. They were told to me as a child by my grandparents and I want to tell those stories as I understand them further to as many people as I can.
Q. Do you think such historical narratives and heroic figures are important for audiences today?
A. A hundred percent. The pride and personality of our nation and culture is built upon our great Indian history. What we can learn from history goes towards character building for everyone. And cinema is a lovely medium to talk about all this. I believe it is my responsibility as a filmmaker.
Q. Filmmakers often attract criticism for taking creative licenses to increase the entertainment quotient of their films and distorting facts in the process. What is your take on that?
A. Creative or cinematic liberties are misunderstood by some filmmakers and sometimes defined in incorrect ways in our country. However, for each such instance, I can name twenty films which do report history as it was. Cinematic or creative liberties should be taken only to enhance certain emotions, while keeping intact the sanctity of the characters and the historical event. Anything beyond that is simply a distortion of history, not creativity.
Q. Are you worried about Adipurush attracting controversies?
A. Each movie is special for a filmmaker and thinking of any controversies first is the incorrect way of looking at a film. I like to stay away from such negativity.
Q. What is usually your approach to a movie as a director?
A. My process as a director is to dream, breathe and live the project. It is like sitting for an exam, except you are the one who is setting up the questions and answering them too. So, you are also the one who decides how difficult the project is to work on. It is also about the dedication and passion of the team. Even as I speak right now, there are a hundred people working on the film.
Q. What do you look for in your actors? Any particular actors you would like to see in your next film?
A. The choice of actors depends on the characters. I try to find the closest match, someone who would best represent the character when it is translated from paper to celluloid. Fortunately, I have always gotten the best actors for the script. Right now, I’m in for the long haul – Adipurush is expected to release by August 2022 – so I cannot afford to think of future projects at the time. Moreover, it is also for the actors to decide if they want to work with me!
Q. You had made your debut as a child actor in the movie Karamati Coat. Any plans of going back to acting?
A. No, no plans of that at the moment. Making cinema is what I want to do — staying behind the scenes and the camera is my job right now. And I’m looking forward to making some good films.