M. Night Shyamalan can’t stop shocking the world

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In 1999, a 29-year-old filmmaker—born in Mahe, Puducherry to two doctors: a Malayali father and a Tamil mother—suddenly emerged as Hollywood’s hottest talent. A wild card they hadn’t seen in years, as A-listers from across the city claimed to work with him… all because of one line of dialogue.

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“I look dead.”

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And with the famous words Haley Joel Osment said in them. The sixth sense, Manoj Niliattu ‘M Night’ Shyamalan had well and truly arrived. The truth is, he was always going to be a star, ever since he made about 50 home movies at a young age or when he made his first film, a semi-autobiographical drama. Praying with anger While at New York University (NYU) (perhaps his most influential film).

Soon, the Indian-American established himself as one of the leading cinematic voices of his generation – particularly in the horror/thriller genre – with films like Signs, Village And of course, the legendary Astral 177 trilogy ( unbreakable, Distribution And Glass) which brought him international fame and success.

M. Night Shyamalan presents his next feature film 'Knock at the Cabin'

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M. Night Shyamalan presents his next feature film ‘Knock at the Cabin’. Photo credit: AFP

There have been misfires, and there have been high-profile ones. Lady in the water And The Last AirbenderFor example – but Shyamalan’s greatest strength was his willingness to experiment, and by insisting on that, so he kept coming back.

Three years ago, he started working as a showrunner. servent (created by Tony Basgelp), a psychological horror series right up his alley that has since emerged as his biggest coup. Starring Lauren Ambrose, Neil Tiger Free, Rupert Grint and Toby Cable, the show is a combination of “a gothic novel, a black comedy and an allegorical drama laced with supernatural suspense” now entering its fourth and final season. Has been, after a young man. A grieving couple after a tragedy threatens to derail their marriage until a mysterious force enters their home.

Next, he also has an apocalyptic horror film. Knock in the cabin.— A family of three vacationing in a remote cabin is suddenly taken hostage by four strangers — including actors such as Dave Bautista, Jonathan Groff, Ben Aldridge, Nicky Amuka Byrd and Rupert Grint (Joe Shyamalan’s (seems to be a favorite).

Speaking to us on a Zoom video call, Shyamalan joined us for an exclusive interview to discuss the end of the Apple TV+ show, how his daughter Aishna can follow in his footsteps, and as The filmmaker recalls her legacy.

Excerpts from the interview:

When you have a show like ‘Servant’ that is a critical and commercial success, and not a limited story, how do you decide to end it? Especially when you have the support of fans and a streaming platform that wants to continue funding the project?

That’s a really good question, and I have a complicated answer. I like this format, but the one flaw is that you keep telling the story until people are sick of watching it, and then it will die a natural death.

A still from 'Servant'

A still from ‘Servant’

It (the project) would go away because you would just keep trying to tell the same story, and we didn’t want that. I always knew when I started with Apple, it was going to end. serventWhether it’s three or five or six seasons. It was very important to me that we finished the story and had something to focus on.

Is it difficult for a filmmaker making big-budget films for the screen to balance those ambitions with this kind of long-running show?

Since I also make films, it is complicated for me to do both at the same time. It is not easy to put in the time during evenings and weekends trying to do this. I’m taking every step you hear on the screen and mixing it with the mixers, and on every note of the score, I’m saying, ‘No, a little louder, a little softer.’

I am Doing so is not something I delegate. So it’s a very time-consuming process, but I’m sure people watching these hundreds of little decisions feel it. So while I’m committed to the story we’re telling, it’s hard to do that for so long.

A still from 'Servant'

A still from ‘Servant’

It takes two years to make a film. I am a different person at the end of two years! I am ready to tell a different story. It was four or five years into the show, and I really loved it, but there came a point where I was wondering where the story was going to go. So I let the characters tell me when the story ended for them.

But obviously, my team and everyone at Apple was like, ‘Come on, what are we doing? Let’s go, let’s go!’ And we would have – if I hadn’t been tired or I’d thought about it organically. If I didn’t decide to do a second season for the right reasons, the story wouldn’t work, and you could tell; I don’t think I could live with myself if I did.

It’s been three decades since your debut film – ‘Praying With Anger’ came out in 1992 – and since then, you’ve emerged from this talent in Hollywood to become a world-renowned Indian filmmaker. How do you see the last 30 years?

It is very interesting that it has been 30 years since my first film. Over the years, America and other countries around the world have adopted me in different ways. America adopted me because I lived there. Other countries see me as an immigrant who came to America and succeeded. So when I go to Spain, Mexico or Japan, they embrace me for that aspect as well as my cinematic style, which is influenced by European or Japanese or Korean cinema.

Shyamalan directs Abigail Breslin in Signs (2002).

Shyamalan directing Abigail Breslin in ‘Signs’ (2002).

When you look at my films, the aesthetics are not exactly 100% American. They are going in a different way, and their interests are slightly different. So you can tell it’s a global voice telling these stories, and it’s appealed and resonated for 30 years.

Do you have any idea why there aren’t other Indian filmmakers in Hollywood who have followed you and made an impact?

I’m surprised there aren’t more people – from the kind of background I am – who have grown up and are telling stories to the world. I’m not sure why the filmmaking community in India is so strong that if you’re from India, you keep making films there? I can’t believe it

But perhaps, the next generation is already there to take over the mantle. Your daughter Aishna assisted you in the thriller ‘Old’, and also directed episodes of ‘Nooker’…

When we talk about Ashana, I’m obviously biased, but I’m sure she’s someone you and I will be talking about five to eight years from now. She will be a great story teller the world knows. She grew up in a house of art, and there’s this kind of mix of cultures and perspectives, but a woman. So his voice will have an added uniqueness and beauty.

M. Night Shyamalan, center, and daughters Silica Shyamalan, left, and Ishani Shyamalan attend the 'Servant' Season 4 premiere on Apple+ TV

M. Night Shyamalan, center, and daughters Sulica Shyamalan, left, and Ishani Shyamalan attend the Apple+ TV ‘Servant’ Season 4 premiere | Photo credit: AP

Rupert Grint has been one of the stars of ‘The Servant’. The series is really a second coming for him since he played Ron Weasley in the ‘Harry Potter’ films. Now you have also cast him in your next horror project ‘Knock at the Cabin’. I saw an interview earlier where you called him a “unicorn.” Can you talk about this equation?

Rupert is absolutely fantastic. You know, there was some talk about me. Harry Potter film in the day ( Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone before Chris Columbus took over). So I met Rupert when he was just a kid, and it’s been a pleasure to work with him now as an adult. servent And Knock in the cabin.

He’s the kindest person, so professional, and he’s really found his voice now as a mature actor. What I mean when I say he’s a unicorn is that he has this wicked sense of humor, and an access to pathos – so pure, almost childlike – that’s at the heart of most comedy. It looks amazing when I give it a hint. It’s like when I direct a child, it’s right in their face. He is an incredibly pure soul and it comes across on screen. I love his direction and he is an entertainer. It was a wonderful thing to bring him into the family and I would love to continue working with him.

Season four of Servant is currently streaming on Apple TV+ and Knock at the Cabin in theaters on February 3rd.

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