Thor Ragnarok director Taika Waititi on what helming a big-budget Marvel superhero flick is like — India Exclusive
Taika Waititi on how he went from directing smaller films to a Marvel extravaganza like Thor Ragnarok
Taika Waititi is a man so full of energy that it often spills out in his mannerisms — his expressions, gestures, body language. It's a task for him to be entirely still for even a few seconds. Every sentence of his is laced with humour — perhaps because of his background as a comedian. At 42, his salt-and-pepper stubble makes him a favourite among female fans and you'll usually find him impeccably styled.
For Taika — nominated for an Oscar for a short film in 2005 — Thor Ragnarok was his first brush with superheroes. So what prompted him to direct a superhero film? "I think the reason was exactly that I had never done such a film before. Because in that case, it’s guaranteed that it would be unique! Who has attempted a movie before where superheroes like Hulk and Thor sit on a bed and talk about their feelings. I am sure such a scene would have never existed before!” he told Firstpost in an exclusive conversation.
Much has been said about the scenes from Thor Ragnarok that were improvised on the sets, but who better than Taika to throw light on how the actual process occurred? “The script was always a suggestion to actors," he explained. "There are certain character points that are essential to hit while directing a film. My method was like okay, we have to have to have this one and this one and how you get between those two is entirely up to you.”
Directing a film for the Marvel banner could be a daunting task for anyone who has absolutely no background in having directed films where the use of the green screen abounds. Taika admits that he did feel the pressure while directing Thor. He also confesses that he became a part of the film industry by mistake, so “I don’t feel that it’s really my job”. In the same vein he adds that this sentiment has also given him the freedom to do what he feels like. About his future of filmmaking career, he said, "I am going to keep doing the most risky things that I can because I want to play with fire. I want to see how close could I get to destroying my career. It's only in such cases that the magic happens. I was challenged all the time during the making of this film.”
The free flowing humour that punctuates the third edition of Thor also comes from Taika’s own experiences with cinema. He rues the fact that the cinema being churned out currently has not much to offer in terms of making cinegoers smile. “There are so many serious movies at the moment and there are also depressing movies. I don’t see people leaving the cinema smiling anymore and that’s a reminder of how horrible the world is. I still remember how excited and happy I used to feel seeing films like Back To The Future and stuff. The only thing we said after the film got over was that it was fun and it was a great movie and this is what we want from films. Everyone should feel that they did go on a cool adventure with lots of jokes.”
Taika acknowledges that humour was integral Thor Ragnarok. “Yup, there was a conscious effort to put every colour known to mankind in this film. The aim was to make this movie into a big, lovable, funny, enjoyable fest and then punch the audience straight in their faces.” The film's music is another cool point in its favour, featuring the likes of Led Zeppelin, Joe Harnell, Magic Sword and the theme music of the earlier Thor films. Ask him about the fact that once the film releases people will definitely compare the music quotient of Thor Ragnarok to Guardians Of The Galaxy, and he turns defensive. “I get the comparison but in all my other films too I have used pop songs and songs from the '70s and '80s. This is one movie where I didn’t use music from that era. Also before GOTG, I would say there were two hundred thousand other movies that have used similar music. It’s a fine comparison to make because the GOTG movie was great,” Taika said, chuckling.
By this time, Taika's restlessness is apparent, so we squeeze in a last few questions. Will he get back to his roots of small budget films after this extravaganza? “No I don’t see much point going back to smaller films. I am a big director now," Taika replied, deadpan. "I have forgotten those little people I knew and the only way for me up. But yes, it would be nice going back to the old stuff.” And would he be open to directing an Indian film? “I go with the cash," he responded, laughing. "I just follow the money."
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