I would never presume to understand Indian culture: Director Ron Howard (IANS Interview)

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Singapore, Oct 16 (IANS) Academy Award-winning director Ron Howard, who has worked with Indian actor Irrfan Khan in “Inferno”, says he would love to offer his “outsider” sensibilities to an Indian project provided he feels he can add value to it.

Asked if he would consider doing an Indian movie or a film set in India, Howard told IANS: “I certainly would if I have the opportunity, but (only) if I thought that I have learnt enough to offer something.”

He added: “I wouldn’t want to make a movie where I feel that an Indian director would be better because they will understand the movie in a more nuanced way. But if I can make a movie with an Indian character and Indian team where my outsider’s sensibilities would be of value and would bring something to the film, then I would take on the challenge.”

Howard, who has come a long way in showbiz from being a child star in “The Andy Griffith Show” to becoming a globally-acclaimed director, also said: “I would never presume to understand Indian culture in that intimate personal way and that’s the way I would approach it.”

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IANS caught up with Howard during a media event organised by Sony Pictures Entertainment here.

The director feels that sometimes the story — irrespective of any country or any particular industry — has more value, if seen and framed on to the camera from an outsider’s view.

“Some of the best movies about America have been made by people who were not born and raised in America and are not American… ‘Brokeback Mountain’ is entirely an American movie, and that is made by Ang Lee. He has not lived there for many years, but he definitely has American sensibilities.

“‘Midnight Cowboy’ is one of the best movies about America made in the 1960s and it was made by an English guy, John Schlesinger. So, sometimes an outsider’s point of view can actually offer some inside truth. But sometimes it is not appropriate. I would be very careful about that,” said the 62-year-old.

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Howard was noticed as a child artiste in “The Andy Griffith Show”, and then went on to do “Happy Days”, “The Music Man”, “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father”, “The Shootist” and “Grand Theft Auto”.

He also carved a niche for himself in Hollywood as a director with films like “Cocoon”, “Apollo 13”, “A Beautiful Mind”, “The Da Vinci Code” and “Angels & Demons”. Now, he has come back with his vision in “Inferno”, which is the third movie adaptation in Dan Brown’s series of Robert Langdon books.

With the film, which released in India on Friday, Howard reunited with Oscar-winning star Tom Hanks, and also got Irrfan on board. In “Inferno”, Langdon is seen trying to save the world from a virus which is seen as a cure to over-population.

Asked how Irrfan came into the picture, Howard credits his daughter Bryce Dallas Howard for lobbying for him.

“I said to our casting director that I don’t want to be focused on the way the character is described in the book. I want to think about the most interesting collection of international actors to really bring in a really fascinating human element to the cast.

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“And Irrfan’s name showed up on the list and I am a fan of his and my daughter Bryce — who worked with him in ‘Jurassic World’ — said that he was great to work with and is a tremendous talent,” he said.

Howard added that he is “pleased with the decision to depart from the literal understanding of the character”.

What about coming to India?

“My wife (Cheryl) has been to India a couple of times and loves it. But I have not got the opportunity yet,” he said and added that he will be very disappointed if he doesn’t make it to India “in the next couple of years”.

(The writer’s trip was at the invitation of Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) India. Sugandha Rawal can be contacted at [email protected])



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