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Unlike Senna and Amy Winehouse, Maradona's struggles are internal

PTI     October 11, 2019

By Radhika Sharma New Delhi, Oct 11 (PTI) Indian-origin British filmmaker Asif Kapadia says he didn't want to make another documentary after his BAFTA-winning "Senna" on late Brazilian motor-racing champion Ayrton Senna. The director, whose "Diego Maradona" on the legendary Argentinian footballer released Friday, said it is "accidental" that he ended up doing a trilogy of sorts on child geniuses, second being "Amy on the late British singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse. "When I did 'Senna' in 2010, it was a one off. I've been making feature films previously, so 'Senna' was like sport and a good opportunity coming along so I thought it'd be nice to do something different. "It was a challenge in a way to come up with a new way of telling the story. That's what I thought was interesting about it, this idea of not having interviews and making it a documentary but in the style of a feature film. It was a big hit. It did really well everywhere. And then I thought, 'Okay, that's it. I'm never going to make another one',” Kapadia told PTI in an interview. Then "Amy" happened, which earned him an Academy Award for best documentary feature in 2016, along with best documentary BAFTA and Grammy for best music film. London-based Kapadia said the documentary on Winehouse, who died at age 27 due to alcohol poisoning, was like telling the story of somebody that could have lived on his street in Camden, where he lived for 10 years. "I didn't want to do another sport film. I got offered a lot and I said no to them all including 'Maradona' after 'Senna'. Then 'Amy' comes along. I'm from North London, that became more personal as a film about where I'm from." "Diego Maradona" is a film on a subject who is alive and focuses on the Argentine football legend's turbulent and triumphant seven-year stint with Italian professional football club Societa Sportiva Calcio (SSC) Napoli, which he joined in 1984 for a then record fee. The director, a passionate football fan, lived with the idea of the film for 25 years, from the time he was a film student and read a book on him. It was almost like doing a gangster film, Kapadia said, in a hat-tip to one of his heroes, director Martin Scorsese. "Diego Maradona", distributed by PVR Pictures in India, captures the life and times of the genius through his triumphs and tribulations of the 1980s and early 1990s. It was a period during which Maradona saw great highs, including Argentina's 1986 World Cup victory, and lows, which included messy run-ins with authority. Kapadia, 47, said Amy and Senna had obvious kind of external rivals. With Maradona, the battle was "internal". Before he interviewed the legend, he was warned by many people that he was going to talk to one of the biggest liars in the world – for football is a game of the mind. The director interviewed Maradona for four to five times with the footage of nine hours and witnessed the two halves of his personality -- 'Diego' and 'Maradona' emerge. “It was always like 'What's the reason he's doing this stuff? Whenever we talked to people and did research, it was that nobody makes this guy do anything. It is all him. "A lot of people of alluded to it during the research and interviews. There was his personal trainer, one of the key characters in the film, who during my interview with him, kind of literally split it. It's almost like he is bipolar or has split personality. There's this character Diego, then there's this character Maradona.” Diego was a sweet guy, who loves to talk and hang around, but Maradona was the persona he created to deal with journalists, fame, and the kind of ego, which Kapadia thought "could be interesting". "It suddenly made sense of who he was," he said. The filmmaker said when the audience hears Maradona’s voice in the film, it is from the interviews that he did with him. Kapadia believes he got the veteran to dig deeper and talk about things he'd never spoken about. "My job was to try and get him to deal with some of the difficult things. He doesn't look back. He doesn't have any regrets. He doesn't ever feel like he's ever made a mistake. It's like the rest of the world is wrong. "In the film, I deal with a section of his life when he was playing in Italy, which for me is the most important part of his life which forms him, where he becomes the best player in the world, where he becomes this kind of iconic figure, but it's also where all of his personal problems begin." The issue with his previous documentaries, he said, was the estate or family were interested in seeing the film before it released. But it's never expected with Maradona, who is yet to see the film. "As the guy is still alive you would assume he and his people would want to see the film, but it's the opposite. And that's classic Diego Maradona, he will always do the opposite of everything you expect." The documentary premiered at Out of Competition at the 72nd Cannes Film Festival in the legend's absence and because Maradona was always on the opposite side of the world, there was only so much that could be done. Before its debut in India, the film released in Argentina on direct TV, the director said, adding Maradona might have seen it. "We may see his reaction on Instagram and he will be commenting on it probably quite soon," he said. Next, Kapadia said he is going to do something "completely different". Last year, it was announced that Kapadia and filmmaker Ridley Scott are teaming up to adapt Yuval Noah Harari's international best-seller "Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind". "I don't know yet. I'm reading and thinking. I'm kind of putting a few things together, but I'm not planning to jump into something straight away. "Back to another (feature) movie again, it's been a while. There's something going on. I mean, it's too early. It's still in the middle of stuff right now." PTI RDS BK BK

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