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JFF India: The Crimes That Bind – An Interview with Producer Hidenori Iyoda

Acclaimed by audiences as the best crime drama. Taking to the stage at the 3rd Japanese Film Festival in Mumbai.

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Twenty-five Japanese films were screened in Mumbai this January (2020) for the 3rd Japanese Film Festival in India (JFF India) which was presented by the Japan Foundation. One of the films screened which followed on from last year was The Crimes That Bind, starring Hiroshi Abe. This was the finale to the film adaptation of the Shinzanmono (the Newcomer), a mystery-novel series by Keigo Higashino. With the desire to share lead actor Abe Hiroshi’s desire to one day appear in an Indian film, the Producer, Hidenori Iyoda (TBS Television) attended the screening in India. Here he was able to give us some behind-the-scenes insight into the film at the Q&A session and private interview.

<Details about The Crimes That Bind>

The film’s protagonist, Kyoichiro Kaga is a shrewd detective who has solved many difficult cases. While investigating the case of a murdered woman, theatre director Hiromi Asai arises as a suspect. As the investigation continues, the cause behind the disappearance of Kaga’s mother, and other details about his past begin to emerge. Katsuo Fukuzawa, of works such as Downtown Rocket and Hanzawa Naoki, takes on the director’s megaphone for this movie. Alongside Hiroshi Abe and other series regulars including Junpei Mizobata, Rena Tanaka, and Tsutomu Yamazaki continuing their roles, Nanako Matsushima appears in her first foray into the series as a key-person in the film, Hiromi Asai.

<Post-screening Q&A>

Audience Member 1: That was a superb movie. Who wrote the script for it?

HI: There were two scriptwriters, the director and myself who created it together. While this was based on an excellent novel by Keigo Higashino, the four of us shared our insights and went through many discussions about how to adapt it to film.

The storyline of the Shinzanmono series is one that has spanned over a long time in Japan as a TV series. I’d like to thank the lead actor, Hiroshi Abe, and everybody else who loves this story, as well as the director who so passionately brought this film adaptation to life.

Audience Member 2: The soundtrack throughout the movie was excellent. How was the music composed?

HI: Half of it was taken from the older TV series, while the remaining half was written while watching the footage together with the composer after the movie had been filmed.

(c)2018 The Crimes That Bind Film Production Committee(c) Keigo Higashino/KODANSHA All Rights Reserved.

Audience Member 3: The red in the final scene where Kaga (Hiroshi Abe) and Hiromi (Nanako Matsushima) are standing in the theatre really stood out to me. What is the symbolism behind that scene?

HI: There is an old Japanese play known as The Love Suicides at Sonezaki that tells the story of two lovers torn apart. I believe director Fukuzawa may have been alluding to that. The director emphasises the colour red throughout the film, such as in Hiromi’s room and the rear shot of the mother speaking in her first appearance. I believe the intention was to leave a lasting image throughout the whole film by emphasising the colour red in the final scene.

Audience Member 3: Hiromi’s house was indeed filled with red. The background of her close-up scene also featured Katsushika Hokusai’s The Great Wave off Kanagawa painted in red. Was this colour chosen to represent her pain and trauma?

HI: I believe the director came up with the idea to paint Hokusai’s painting in red at some point which led him to consult with the art department to depict her psychological situation in red. I actually went to that particular set in person and was overwhelmed by the red colour because not only is it the colour of blood, but it is also symbolic of her tragedy.

Audience Member 4: I felt as though a lot of scenes in this movie were filmed on location. It seemed as though it must have been a lot of trouble to film in places with a lot of people. Was that actually the case?

HI: Ningyocho in Tokyo was the main location we filmed at. We managed to film there without a hitch thanks to the help of the locals. All of the people at the locations in Shiga Prefecture and other places were also very cooperative, so it wasn’t actually that difficult. I hope you’ll let me film in India next time (laughs).

(c)2018 The Crimes That Bind Film Production Committee(c) Keigo Higashino/KODANSHA All Rights Reserved.

<Private Interview>

Following on from last year, The Crimes That Bind has been screened for two years running in India. What kind of response did you expect from the Indian audience?

HI: Hiroshi Abe has always said that he wants to appear in an Indian film, so that got me thinking about what kind of country India is. I am absolutely thrilled for the movie to be screened two years in a row here. I was worried at first about whether people would actually come to watch it, though.

The impression left on me after having Indian moviegoers come to watch this movie was a reaffirmation that the people of India are very passionate about movies. While I somewhat knew that Indians enjoyed their dancing and horror movies, finding out that they also enjoyed movies about family love and romance dramas was also very fascinating.

You mentioned before the screening that while it may be a mystery film, it is also a story about familial love. Did you feel as though the Indian audiences also understood the familial-love aspect of the film?

HI: While there are different ways to interpret the film, I was touched by the passionate response to it that I received from a number of audience members. There aren’t very many people in Japan who openly express their emotions when offering their opinions. I couldn’t help but think that I should’ve brought Hiroshi Abe along with me to India after seeing such a response.

Were there any remarks that left a particularly strong impression on you?

Hidenori Iyoda: I’m sure there was some lip service involved here, but I was genuinely delighted when I was told it was the best crime drama ever.

Do you have the desire to use the experiences you have gained this time around to attempt something in India?

HI: I don’t only want to introduce something from Japan to India, but I would also like to produce something together with the people of India. With the borders between countries slowly disappearing, I think Indian and Japanese people share similar qualities as both being people from Asian countries. These qualities include passionate and likeable characteristics and a strong sense of humanity and justice, that is why I think it would be interesting to be able to work on something together.

Fittingly for a series finale, the scattered storylines ingeniously come together to form one in this film that has been hugely successful, even in Japan. After garnering acclaim in Japan, it appears to have also captured Indian audiences. This was clear from the words of praise offered and deep questions about the film itself asked during the post-screening Q&A session. It was a rewarding movie screening where the discerning eyes of Indian moviegoers were felt and new perspectives were uncovered.

Interviewer:Kazuya Takahashi / Editor:Emi Ishigami

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