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Casting a magic spell

"Magic Magic", a 3D film, was released last month all over the country. The director Jose Punnoose talks about the film's box office success and the complexities involved in making it, in an interview to SANGEETH KURIAN.



Jose Punnoose and Suraj Balajee (third from left) with the animal trainers. The dog Barkley is also seen.

WHEN NAVODAYA Studio released India's first 3D film "My Dear Kuttichathan" in 1984, it was a rare experience for filmgoers. Watching a three dimensional film held the audience spellbound. Nearly two decades later, the studio has once again attempted to recreate the magic with its latest venture "Magic Magic." The movie, directed by Jose Punnoose, youngest son of M. C. Punnoose (better known as Appachan), founder, Navodaya Studio, was released last month across 100 centres all over the country. In an interview, Punnoose talks about the film's box-office performance and the complexities involved in making a 3D film. Excerpts:

Are you happy with the film's box-office performance?

The movie has been a commercial success. But yes, I admit it has not become a major hit like "My Dear Kuttichathan".

Is this because the movie was intended for children?

When Kuttichathan was released, there were complaints about it being a horror movie and children getting scared. So our decision to tone down the theme in the latest venture was deliberate. Moreover, "Magic Magic" is not just for kids, it's for anybody who's young at heart!

"My Dear Kuttichathan" was directed by your brother Jijo, and you were essentially into production. How did the director's mantle fall on you?

I came up with the storyline of "Magic Magic" 18 years ago; we even made attempts to produce the movie first in 1985 and later in 1996. However, due to various reasons, the movie failed to take off. Since I was associated with the project right from the beginning, the director's mantle also fell on me.

How difficult is it to produce a 3D film?

Quite difficult, executing a 3D film takes a lot of time. For instance, if you are working with 100 kilowatts of light for an ordinary film, a 3D film needs at least 350 kilowatts. As a result, when a conventional movie can be completed in 50 days, a 3D movie takes a minimum of 140 days. The cost is also twice that of a conventional movie. But then, production is only 25 per cent of the job. The remaining is exhibition. This is highly labour intensive.

Since most of the cinemas in our country are not equipped for a 3D projection, we have to deploy our staff to change the screens overnight to silver coated plastic ones, install special lenses in projectors and align it.

Besides, we have to clean and sterilise the 3D glasses after each use. (Navodaya has manufactured 1million glasses for the purpose.) Fortunately, we have an army of people who have been working with us right from the `My Dear Kuttichathan' days.

Did you give them any training before the release of the movie?

Yes, we trained them for a month in a cinema with 3D facilities and later asked them to screen the movie on their own.

Seventy per cent of "Magic Magic" is based in America. Is there any reason for this U.S. angle?

The story is about an Indian kid taken to the U.S. against his wishes by his father. So when he runs away from his father's house, I wanted him to be in a place where he would be totally lost.

It took nearly 20 years to come up with your second 3D venture; will it take another 20 years for the third one?

(Laughs) Certainly not, in fact, following the release of "Magic Magic", a couple of production houses based in Mumbai have expressed their willingness for joint ventures. Besides, we are also planning to bring out another in a couple of years.

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