Adi Shankar on Hollywood Sexism vs. The Female Expendables

The Voices Gemma Arterton Ryan Reynolds

CraveOnline: It’s cool that you’ve embraced that mentality by making movies, which really are… I mean, every representation, every use of symbolism, is maybe not a “lie” but it’s not the baldfaced truth, right?

Adi Shankar: Mm-hmm. Movies are about perspective. That’s really what art is. Art is about perspective, right? Which is a weird thing. Look at painting. Take movies out of the equation for a second, look at [painting]. If you were to paint… let’s say you’re sitting there and some world leader is sitting in front of you, and you paint a very accurate… it almost looks like a photograph of that world leader. People go, “Oh, that’s art? No. That’s a portrait.” Right?

Now if you draw that guy the way you see him – let’s say with devil horns or a halo on, whatever – then like, man, this is the lengths to which I’m viewing reality. Then people go, “Man, that was art! That’s awesome.” So art is really just about reinterpreting the consciousness. Art is making conversation pieces.


“If you have the power to pick up the phone and get your phone call answered, that’s Level 1.”


That’s interesting in the context of The Voices in particular, because that’s really what the movie is all about.

One hundred percent.

The lens through which we look at everything. That’s why I think it may be my favorite film that you’ve produced, actually.

Thank you.

Well, tell me about The Voices. How did this one come about? Was it brought to you by Marjane Satrapi or did it come out a different way?

No, actually it was a screenplay that’s been floating around for years. It was actually one of the first scripts I ever read… not, “ever read,” but it was a screenplay that I really liked a lot. And yeah, one day I woke up and I was like, “I feel like I have… the power now. Yeah! I could make The Voices!

What is that like, realizing that you have the power to green light a movie? Does that come with a lot of responsibility or do you think it’s important to take chances?

You don’t really have the power to green light a movie. What you do have is the power to get people to listen to you. You don’t have the power to green light a movie, ever. 

Right. Okay, poor choice of words.

No one does. But if you have the power to pick up the phone and get your phone call answered, that’s Level 1. Then Level 2 is the power to pick up the phone and get the phone call answered, and say something crazy and people go, “Oh wow, well, it came out of that guy’s mouth so maybe we should listen to that. It could be the next insert blank, right?” 

And then Level 99 of this is like the James Cameron power, where you pick up the phone and you’re like, “I want $500 million!” and they’re like, “Okay!” That’s Level 99. Basically I look at the whole world like an RPG.