Director and actor Mysskin is known for his love for books and films by the masters. Here, he speaks about five films that he loves. “These films define who I am now and all my so-called success is dedicated to them,” he says.
Director: P Madhavan
This is the first movie that inspired me. When people talk about my films, they speak of Anjathey, and its structure is quite similar to Thanga Pathakkam. I saw Thanga Pathakkam about 10 to 15 times, and then wrote the plot line of Anjathey. I saw a lot of conflict in the wants and needs of the protagonist. A father is in a position where he must kill his son and I was stunned by the thought behind the film. As a scriptwriter, I find Mahendran sir (he wrote Thanga…) one of the greatest. With this script, he made Sivaji, an expressive actor, deliver a restrained performance. Thanga Pathakkam was a film that inspired me in every possible way.
A film which I appreciate for its music, performances and script is Thevar Magan. In my opinion, Bharathan is India’s best director. He is an artiste and this film is an artistic achievement. Kamal Haasan wrote it, and I consider it one of the greatest scripts written in Indian cinema.
The peculiar thing about the film is that with the character Sakthivel, you can notice Joseph Campbell’s ‘The Hero’s Journey’ written into the script. When he comes to the village, you see him jumping off the train dancing but when he leaves, he leaves as a saviour, humbled and refusing any attention, to board a train to serve his sentence. I’ve never seen such a script ever in Indian cinema. People saw it as a commercial film and never really appreciated it. Whenever I write, I try to etch out the journey of the protagonist like in Thevar Magan.
Director: Akira Kurosawa
This film spread my wings and taught me to fly. I consider Kurosawa as a Zen guru and I learnt a lot about filmmaking from Seven Samurai. I’ve seen it nearly a thousand times and would love to watch it a thousand times more. Whenever I hear people say they are troubled, I recommend this film to them. This film is like medicine; it helps remove the pain in your heart, it gives deep solace. It speaks of human ability, power, talent and limitation. If there are eight wonders of the world, the ninth would be Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai.
Director: Steven Spielberg
This is the real-life story of Oskar Schindler, who rescued 900 Jews from the Holocaust in Germany. For anyone interested in filmmaking, I would recommend only two films — Seven Samurai and Schindler’s List. Schindler’s is a cinematic feat, it stems from a place of failure, Steven Spielberg’s failure to win an Oscar for the film Close Encounters Of The Third Kind.
The film he lost to was Gandhi. At first, he didn’t like Gandhi because that’s the film that beat him, but he soon saw what a noble film it was. He realised that he became a filmmaker to tell stories of human struggle and emotion, especially what his parents had to endure, and Schindler’s List was a result of that. As a writer, I consider this movie a classic.
A Man Escaped
Director: Robert Bresson
I consider Bresson one of my greatest teachers; he continues to teach me even today through his films. Of his films, my favourite, is A Man Escaped. It also happens to be set in Auschwitz and is based on incidents that took place in France.