As M. Padmakumar's Mohanlal-starrer ‘Shikar’ gets ready for theatres, the director talks about his filmography and his latest film.
His ‘Parunthu’ may not have soared as high as his expectations, but M. Padmakumar is confident that ‘Shikar,' which opens in theatres next week, will put him back in the reckoning as one of the sought-after young directors in Malayalam cinema today.
The Kozhikode-based director had made an impact with his films ‘Vasthavam’ and ‘Vargam’, which did not shine at the box office though they amassed critical acclaim; ‘Vasthavam’, in fact, bagged a State award for its young hero, Prithviraj.
After working with Mammootty in ‘Paranthu’, Padmakumar's latest film, ‘Shikar’, features the other big M of Malayalam cinema – Mohanlal.
“Mohanlal has given a superb performance in the film; it should be among his best role in the last few years. ‘Shikar' has given him the scope to show off his amazing range as an actor,” gushes Padmakumar.
Mohanlal plays a lorry driver Balaraman who lives in a temporary settlement on the edge of a forest. It is a small settlement that springs up for six months when reed workers live there to harvest reed and earn a living during the season. Balaraman lives with his teenaged daughter who is preparing for her medical entrance examinations.
“The film, contrary to what the title suggests, is not about a hunt, but about a man being hunted down for a mistake in his past. Balaraman is a victim and ‘Shikar' is his story. I am glad that I could get Mohanlal for this role. Ever since my days as an associate director of ‘Devasuram,' I had wanted to make a film with him,” says Padmakumar.
The director adds that he is also impressed by Ananya, who plays Mohanlal's daughter Ganga.
Highlights of ‘Shikar,' according to the director, are the rich visuals shot by Manoj Pillai and some slick action sequences choreographed by Thyagarajan. “We shot for about 50 days in the forests of Pooyamkutty and Neriyamangalam, so the film will be pretty pleasing to the eye,” he says.
Sneha, Kalabhavan Mani, Kailash, Lakshmi Gopalaswamy, Lalu Alex, Jagathy Sreekumar and Tamil director Samudrakani also star in the film. “They all have important roles to play. And ‘Shikar' could also be the last release of late lyricist Gireesh Puthenchery. Four of his songs have been tuned by M. Jayachandran,” says Padmakumar.
He stresses ‘Shikar' is not an action film. “There is action in the film, yes, but the focus is more on the emotions of Balaraman and his daughter,” he explains.
Analysing his own work as a director, Padmakumar admits he was disappointed with ‘Parunthu,' his previous film. “Maybe I was overconfident while making that film, since I had roped in Mammootty and veteran scriptwriter T.A. Razak. There were a few problems with the film, but we all learn from our mistakes, don't we?” Padmakumar reasons.
To look out for
He still holds ‘Vasthavam' close to his heart. “I felt confident that Prithviraj would bring to life his complex character who has to go through much in his life at a young age. His winning the State award was a pleasant surprise, though. I thought it was Jagathy who stood the best chance for an award. It is good to see that Prithviraj has grown in stature as a star since then,” says Padmakumar.
He believes Prithviraj will be a force to reckon with in Malayalam cinema. “He has the looks to match his talent and he has the ability to play characters older than his age. And he has made the best of the opportunities that have come his way. It was his performance in his second film, ‘Stop Violence' that convinced me that he was an artiste to look out for,” Padmakumar says.
The fact that films with new actors (‘Malarvadi Arts Club' and ‘Apoorvaragam') are doing well at the box office augurs well for Malayalam cinema, he says. “But I hope that they do not spawn poor imitations,” he adds.