How did you come on board as the director of The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir?
I got a call from the producer Luc Bossi and he said that they were adapting the book The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who Got Trapped in an Ikea Wardrobe (written by Romain Puertolas). Dhanush was approached for the lead role and because of my background as a comedian, the producer felt that I lived in that world of comedy. Some of my movies have a feel-good quality like this movie. They sent me the book and the script, and I loved the story. I traveled to Chennai to meet Dhanush in 2017 and we talked about the story, the way we can work together.
Did your trip to India also involve traveling and understanding Indians?
When I came to meet Dhanush, I also tried to find the right location for the movie. Initially, we thought of shooting in Jodhpur. Later, I thought Mumbai worked better after I visited the Worli neighborhood. I loved its small alleys and houses. The character, when he’s young, lives in Worli. As he grows older, he discovers all of Mumbai and then he sets out for the world.
Dhanush’s character keeps traveling from one place to the other. Was it difficult to tackle so much traveling during the shoot?
It was important for me to make the audience experience that journey. Visually each one of these cultures needed to have a great impact on the lead character as well as on the audience. It became more of a game. Each time we were in a new sequence, we had a different colour scheme and aesthetics. We also had a different type of music. The approach of how we shot a particular scene was influenced by where we were. In Mumbai, we have a lot of vibrant colours. When we are in England, the colours are all faded.
The movie also touches upon the subject of immigration, which is a major issue at the moment.
It’s not a political movie because it’s a fable, a metaphor. It is a comedy but it says something very important to me. It says that if we consider immigrants to be simply another version of ourselves, we will live in a better world. We will have more love for them.
After this, will you be inspired to do more work in India?
I love the shooting process here. I love the culture and working with the actors here. India has a lot of energy. The people here seem very happy. It seems like a great place to live in. It’s very different from my hometown in Canada. I would love to work with Dhanush again. He’s a great actor and dancer. His greatest quality is that he makes the audience care about his character. You talk to people about Dhanush and their eyes light up.