First it was a hugely well-received documentary on the legendary Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman. Now Indian filmmaker Dheeraj Akolkar, who has assisted Bollywood filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali in the past, is sweeping the western world with his docu-drama on Norwegian artist and painter Edvard Munch.
The film entitled Let The Scream Be Heard premiered in Oslo on October 23, and premiered in Mexico City the next day. It now opens in Prague and Mexico on the eve of Munch's 150th birth anniversary on December 12.
After Bergman, what prompted Dheeraj to take on the life of Munch?
"Rune Trondsen and Stein-Roger Bull of Nordic Stories had the idea of making a film to mark the 150th birth anniversary of Edvard Munch. They had suggested this to the Jubilee Team (Munch's 150 folowers) as well as to the Munch Museum and the National Museum.
"They were looking for an international director, as they felt that a fresh perspective on a subject so close to the Norwegians was needed. They had contacted a few directors before they asked me," said Akolkar.
He said "when they offered me the film and I was definitely interested".
"They invited me to visit Oslo specially to look at the Munch paintings. By the time I was in front of the third or the fourth art work, I knew I wanted to do this I knew that I could do this well."
Two tough films on two super-iconic artistes. Which was tougher?
"Liv & Ingmar and Let the Scream be Heard, each had its own challenges. But Let the Scream... was definitely tougher for a number of reasons. I had worked and meditated on Liv & Ingmar for two and a half years before the film started, so I had ample time to envisage, develop and work around the rough edges.
"When it finally started, I was extremely confident of what was right for the film and then Liv Ullman (Bergman's soulmate) was in front of the camera. With Let the Scream... this was not the case.
"I was offered the film when Liv & Ingmar had not even ended. We had ten months to finish the film. I was entering a national and universal treasure with a film on Edvard Munch, this was supposed to be the official 150th Year jubilee film. On the top of everything else, Edvard Munch was not alive to tell his story on camera."
Akolkar also has Bollywood plans.
"There is an Indian film based on a very important story. The script is fully developed and I have been meeting some people in Mumbai and waiting for a couple of more responses. When the time is right, it will begin. That's my faith. Or better to say, when it begins, will be the right time for it," he said.