The other day I was reading a rather ho-hum review of the new Steve Martin movie Shopgirl when this sentence caught my eye:

Tweely narrated by Martin (not as Ray), directed with a dose of barbiturates by Anand Tucker, underscored with a plaintive cello and piano, this is among the most noneventful romantic triangles ever committed to celluloid.

It appears that Shopgirl, that seemingly whitest of whitebread romantic dramedies, was directed by an international jetsetter with desi roots:

Tucker, the son of an Indian father and German mother who was born in Thailand, grew up in Hong Kong and has lived in London since he was 18.

Rediff features a recent interview with the director, who is probably best known for directing the art-house hit Hilary and Jackie.  Tucker (his father changed his last name from Thakkar) has also been tapped to direct a big-budget adaptation of The Golden Compass, the first book in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy.

You are making a big jump from a comparatively small film like Shopgirl to the Golden Compass in the Pullman series. Are you worried about the change of pace?

Not at all. And I also know that the new film is basically a story about a little girl who’s looking for her family. I see the Golden Compass as yet another film that is full of emotions and life’s trials. And in that sense, it is not unlike the two movies I have directed.

Budget-wise, this is going to be a big film, isn’t it?

It could cost about $100 million, more than two times the budget of my previous two films. But then again what interests me about it is that it is still a story filled with emotions.

How did you get the project, given there was intense competition?

Persistence. I had a detailed treatment, with even sketches, and I approached New Line [the producers] with it. I have been lobbying and pitching this film even as I have been working on Shopgirl and other projects that did not come through.

How long have you been trying to get this film project?

Ever since the book came out, about 10 years ago. From the day I read the book, I have been passionate about it and now it feels like forever. I knew exactly how I was going to adapt the story, with its magic, witches and adventures, for the big screen. [link]

Tucker decided he wanted to become a filmmaker after seeing Taxi Driver for the first time.  Hopefully the rather mixed reviews he’s been receiving for Shopgirl won’t inspire any Bicklesque behavior on his part.

4 thoughts on “Shopguy

  1. THE GOLDEN COMPASS is probably one of my favorite comtemporary books, along with rest of the trilogy, THE SUBTLE KNIFE and THE AMBER SPYGLASS and I am always so dismayed to see how little-known the series seems to be. For those of you who love high fantasy AND physics AND theology, it’s a must-read. I am just finishing THE AMBER SPYGLASS for the second time and now I have to read PARADISE LOST again. (Pullman’s HIS DARK MATERIALS trilogy is a creative response to Milton.)

    It’ll be interesting to see Tucker’s vision for the series.

  2. just saw the end of an ad for this– hadn’t seen one before– and sure enough, bold enough for me to notice, “Anand Tucker”. well DONE, young pledge Ads. inevitably, someone would’ve sent in a tip about this in a few weeks– you’re so on top of things. :D

  3. Rani, wouldn’t you consider the HIS DARK MATERIALS trilogy to be a response to C. S. Lewis as well? I know at least a few readers who loved the Narnia books as children but grew uncomfortable upon discovering the Christian allegory…

    I particularly enjoyed the Gnostic feel of HIS DARK MATERIALS, but I recall reading that the producers planned to tone down the movies to make them more palatable to the Right.

  4. Shaad,

    Hmmm…. I see what you are saying.

    Pullman abhors the Narnia stories. His major beef with them: “ItÂ’s not the presence of Christian doctrine I object to so much as the absence of Christian virtue. The highest virtue, we have on the authority of the New Testament itself, is love, and yet you find not a trace of that in the books.” He also has made much comment on the final scene regarding Susan in the last battle. (A great rebuttal can < a href=””>be found here, though.)

    Re: the movies. Yes, I read the movies are being changed to appeal to a wider, more reverent, audience. Instead of The Authority being God/the Church, apparently they’ve changed it to a corporation. There was much bru-ha-ha about how the movie makers “took God out” of the books and that they wouldn’t stand without it, but Pullman is OK with the script, from what I’ve read.