Rajiv Anchal explains what motivated him to make his latest film, ‘Pattinte Palazhi’.
Life is beautiful for Rajiv Anchal. And the reason, he says, is because he has been able to make his latest film, ‘Pattinte Palazhi,' the way he had visualised it. The film, which hinges on the lead character Veena, essayed effortlessly by Meera Jasmine, comes at a time when many heroines in Malayalam cinema have nothing much to do other than look pretty or glamorous or shed a few tears.
Award-winning sculptor, art director and filmmaker Rajiv opens up about his film and his reasons for making a movie that does not make any attempt to play to the gallery with some slick action scenes or slapstick comedy. What it has is a soulful story, sterling acts, captivating frames and melodious songs.
What was it about ‘Pattinte Palazhi' that motivated you to make a Malayalam film after a short break?
I have always wanted to make films on fresh and relevant subjects. It was the plethora of music-based programmes and reality shows on television that made me think of such a topic. Most Malayalis seem to be tuned in to some kind of music-based show or the other. That made me think of a musical that narrated the story of a singer who only lived for music. That was how the story was conceptualised and then I discussed it with my team. It is a lyrical endeavour on screen.
Apart from all that, the way Malayalam cinema was being moulded by superstars who encouraged a certain kind of cinema that promoted and suited their image perturbed me. Many good film directors in Kerala have been sidelined as they have not been able to make the kind of films that they want.
Wasn't it a risk to make such a film when many viewers seem to prefer mindless comedy or fisticuffs?
Not really. My film is targeted at a family audience and I think there are still many viewers in Kerala who long to see some sensible stories on screen. I did not want to compromise on my aesthetics and sense by adding some fast numbers or dance sequences. I have also deliberately avoided showing any scenes showing the characters drinking or smoking. As it is mentioned in the film, ‘Pattinte Palazhi' is an ode to thousands of women who were forced to snuff out the artiste in them due to some reason or the other. The many mothers who go all out to promote their children's talent might be trying to ensure that their children get the opportunities that were once denied to them.
After opting for proven masters like Azhagappan and actors like Meera, Revathy and Manoj K. Jayan, you choose a debutant for directing the music in a musical!
Although I have with worked with masters in the field who have come up with several chartbusters, this time around I wanted to work with someone who would not be bogged down with too many assignments. Many of the top directors are neck-deep in work now and at the most, they would have given me a choice of one or two compositions to choose from. I did not want to be restricted like that. I had heard Suresh Manimala's compositions and had enjoyed his work. So even when the script was being finalised, Suresh had already started composing for the songs. The result is there for all to hear and enjoy. The songs, the lyrics of which were written by none other O.N.V. Kurup, are already making waves.
Your favourite role
Definitely my role as a sculptor. The life span of a sculpture, I feel, is more than any other work of art. For instance, my work of Jadayu at Chadayamangalam; passersby cannot avoid seeing that work of art. Similarly, I derive great satisfaction that I was able to contribute my mite to the Parnashala at Shantigiri ashram at Pothencode.
I make films during a break in my work as a sculptor. I make a film when I feel I have something to communicate with the viewers.
Next on the anvil…
Is a film for Toonz Animation called ‘Maamaram' (Giant Tree). The protagonist is a huge mango tree and the story centres around a little boy and his efforts to save the tree.
Although the theme is serious, I plan to give it a humourous treatment that does not degenerate into clowning unnecessarily. I hope to include all the leading actors like Jagathy Sreekumar, Jagadish, Innocent and Mamu Koya who also handle comedy so well. I am working on the script.