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K. Balachander

On his return to cinema after five years with Paarthaley Paravasam
Paarthaley Paravasam is being publicised as your 100th film. But your TV serials have also been included in this list. A publicity stunt?
You can call it my 100th creation, not film.

Is success in TV easier to achieve?
In some ways. You don't have to deal with distributors.

Why return to cinema?
I am only coming home.

What's Paarthaley Paravasam about?
It deals with a couple's problems in marriage, divorce and reunion. But the the screenplay has the KB stamp.

Have you adapted to the new language of cinema?
I have adapted to it but still people expect something extra from a KB film and that is there in PP.

What do you say of the new crop of directors?
It really shows. Today, cinema has become time-pass both for filmmakers and audience.

Is Kamalahaasan your lucky mascot?
He hangs about the sets whenever I make a film. He wants to be part of my films in some way or the other. In PP he plays a guest role.

After Ek Duje Ke Liye, why haven't you had success with Bollywood?
I never liked the party-and-work culture of Bollywood. There's less work, more talk. I never fit in there. And yes, however great a film I make, they will label it a South Indian film.

You have had these supposedly strong woman characters. But aren't you patronising?
I gave centrality to women at a time when Tamil cinema was dominated by two patriarchs—mgr and Shivaji Ganesan. Even the great Savitri was there only as a pickle to go with. I have spoken on behalf of women.

But your feminism was limited to cinema. You never had women as assistant directors.
Here there are no women directors. They don't come forward to take up these roles. Why, our Parliament cannot get around to okaying 33 per cent reservation for women!

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AUTHORS: S. Anand
SUBSECTION: Interviews10 Questions
OUTLOOK: 19 November, 2001
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