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Films that Made Me - Anand Shankar: My fascination for cinema began with Jurassic Park- Cinema express

Films that Made Me - Anand Shankar: My fascination for cinema began with Jurassic Park

A biweekly column exploring the films that inspired, influenced and shaped the cinematic sensibilities of contemporary filmmakers

Published: 19th July 2022

Anand Shankar shares how three of his favourite films defined his filmmaking style 

Jurassic Park (1993)

Director: Steven Spielberg 

'The first time I was in the awe of the magic of cinema was while watching Jurassic Park in a theatre as a child. My fascination and love for the craft of filmmaking—flooded with questions about how they managed to bring it to life—began with Jurassic Park. I was as excited and amused as a kid visiting a theme park for the first time. I think this is a feeling many from my generation resonate with.

The scene where the main characters first encounter a Brachiosaurus (the vegetarian dinosaur) is absolutely stunning and we hadn’t seen anything like that on the big screen until then. To create a perished animal from scratch and present it realistically was awe-inspiring. Likewise, the sequence where the T-rex attacks the car was extremely thrilling. Then there’s a tense sequence in the climax that has the kids trapped in a kitchen; it was an experience that transcended the ‘wow’ factor. Jurassic Park remains an extraordinary memory.'

Indian (1995)

Director: Shankar

‘Many directors cite Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorcese or filmmakers known for making artistic films as their inspirations. I, however, am a mainstream guy and to me, Shankar sir’s films were a huge inspiration.

Indian, in that sense, was a perfect commercial film. It featured an actor I liked in a dual role and I enjoyed it to the core when I first watched it. On a personal note, regardless of how honest we all are, opting for bribery to ensure a particular job gets done is considered normal at times. For instance, the young Kamal, who leads a life like all of us, doesn’t understand that bribery is wrong until the appa Kamal points it out and goes against him. Indian addressed that normalisation of bribery. One of my biggest takeaways from Indian was how it is possible to communicate a heavy social message in a palatable, commercial package. Irrespective of the seriousness of the story, I feel you should keep your audience excited and this understanding was certainly sealed by Indian.' 

Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)

Director: James Cameron

'A typical Indian mainstream film often rests on the shoulders of a ‘hero’ and my fascination to glorify the hero as a larger-than-life personality came from Terminator 2: Judgement Day. “Hasta la vista, baby!” is one thing that has remained imprinted in my memory. I have always been attracted to films that are larger than life and those that provide an escape from reality. Authenticity and realism are fine, but personally, I am not inclined towards these elements as a filmmaker. Terminator, for instance, is not a human in the first place; he is made of metal and bullets don’t maim him. I found these ideas fascinating. And of course, the character of ‘Mercury Man’ is mind-boggling. 

I wondered why elders always scolded me for play-acting and coming up with imaginative games, while people like Cameron and Spielberg made flourishing careers out of innovative and out-of-the-box ideas. I realised that regardless of how crazy an idea sounds if you present it well, the audience will enjoy it. In fact, these were my inspirations to introduce the idea of an inhaler that gives superhuman strength, for a few minutes, in Iru Mugan. You see, these are things I do to satisfy myself as a filmmaker.'

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