Hisss has opened to mixed reviews and while the name Jennifer Lynch is associated with the film, the director has come out to claim that Hisss is not her film. But how can it be, you ask. After all, she did direct the film. According to the director, Hisss was “taken away” from her the minute she finished shooting. Director of the critically acclaimed Boxing Helena, has always praised India and despite this debacle that is now Hisss, continues to maintain that India is a country she adores. BollySpice talks to the commended director in an exclusive candid interview. Lynch explains her Hisss versus the Hisss that is currently playing in cinemas and exposes how she was clearly cheated of her film.
Hisss has released and is already under fire. You’ve come out and claimed that the Hisss that has been released is not yours. How does that make sense?
A film is made three times. Once in the writing, again in the shooting, and a third and final time in post-production. Hisss was my film for the first two stages. I wrote and shot a love story based on the Nagin legend. Having been removed from the project in the final stage, I cannot claim ownership of what has been released.
Are you completely disowning Hisss now?
I own in my heart the moments on theHisss set. I own and cherish the moments and exchanges with the actors and crew. I own forever the joy of being in India with so many people so hungry to tell a story. I do not, however, know nor own the film that has been released. I am glad to hear that it seems to be doing well at the box office, but I can’t take any credit for that.
What exactly transpired from the minute the film ended and when it went to the editing table?
The film was wrapped with much celebration, and I returned to the U.S. to await the arrival of the footage for post production.
Why did you leave the film and project after directing it?
I did not leave the film. The film was taken away in the edit.
How different is the Hisss we are now seeing to what you had originally directed?
I cannot say for certain, as I have not seen the released film. I can tell you that what I originally directed were performances that were truly special and offered a glimpse of a legend in today’s world, honoring what it is to believe in something.
Who took away the film from you during the editing stages?
After viewing my assembly of the footage, the producers asked that I not return to the edit.
Apparently you had intended for the film to be a “love story”, but it is now a Horror film. How and when did the film change?
The love story I wrote and shot contained several horror scenes. Again, having not seen it, apparently it was decided to steer more towards horror in the edit and post.
In initial interviews, you’ve said the film was meant to be a modern take on the popular legend of the “Nagin” but the film promoted sex more than anything. Did you plan for the film to be a “sleaze fest” as it has turned out to be?
Sleaze fest. Goodness, no. This legend is so beautiful. Mallika [Sherawat] is a beautiful woman. Sensual. A physical representation of feminine beauty and strength. I wanted to be sensual, yes. Sexual, yes. Not sleazy. Not cheap…never.
Why didn’t you go to the press when the film was taken away from you? What made you wait?
I was devastated by the loss of something so close to me. Running to the press was the last thing on my mind. I suppose I was hoping everything would work out for the best. I was trying to stay grateful for the experience, not live in the resentment. It wasn’t until a week ago that the press contacted me.
How was it working with Mallika Sherawat during the making of the film? How much does she have to play with what has transpired with the film?
Mallika was always a professional. I think that in the footage I shot, she had the grace and evocative qualities of the finest film actresses.
I know you haven’t seen the final product but from what you know, what has changed in the film and how different is it from your vision?
Telling stories is a magical and ultimately difficult thing to do. I can only say that I would much rather be defending a film I made than a film constructed without me that I haven’t seen.
Would such an incident have happened in Hollywood? And do you feel some resentment towards the Indian film industry after what has happened?
Incidents like this happen all of the time. Filmmakers often clash with the hard bottom line. I feel no resentment towards the Indian film industry.
Has anyone from the cast come forward and display their regret as to what has happened?
What would you like to tell audiences?
I’d like to tell audiences, in film, the intention, purely, is to tell stories. To thrill, seduce and to scare. There is joy and hope, escapism and fantasy in cinema. It is not law. It is not curing cancer. It is entertainment. Movies are wonderful, but this one is not mine.