The three women are sitting on a bed, talking softly to each other. Mamta Mohandas, dressed in a salwar suit, Samvritha Sunil, in a long skirt and sleeveless top, and Urmila Unni, in a sari, make a pretty picture as they get ready for a scene in a two-storied bungalow in Kozhikode, where the shooting of director Shyamaprasad's ‘Arike' is progressing. As Shyamaprasad explains the scene to them, cinematographer Alagappan takes another look through his lens to ensure that everything is ready. When the director calls for action, Samvritha and Urmila burst into an argument while Mamta observes them silently. As both Samvritha and Urmila have lengthy dialogues, it is only after a few takes that the shot is canned.
“‘Arike' is entirely different from all my other films. It is a sunny, light-hearted film. It is my homage to Basu Chatterjee, who was a master of this genre. There is lots of humour in ‘Arike' – the situational kind,” says Shyamaprasad.
‘Arike' is based on a Bengali short story by Sunil Gangopadhyay, whose novel was also the base for the director's ‘Ore Kadal.' “Arike' tells the tale of Shantanu (Dileep) and his two friends, Kalpana (Samvritha) and Anuradha (Mamta). Anuradha wants to play Cupid and bring Shantanu and Kalpana together; she knows that they care a lot for each other, but for some reason or the other are hesitant to take the next step. Like all my previous films, ‘Arike' too is about the quest for love,” says the director.
The scene being filmed happens in Kalpana's bedroom. She is in the process of rejecting yet another proposal that her mother (Urmila) suggests.
Another scene features both Samvritha and Urmila weeping softly. You cannot help but notice that the two actors look like a real-life mother and daughter. And when you mention it, Shyamaprasad says: “I am glad that I have got the casting right.”
The director is recording the film in sync sound – sound recorded at time of filming. “I needed actors who could emote dialogues perfectly while shooting itself. I think this is only the second Malayalam film being shot in this way,” says the director, who adds that he wanted to use sync sound because it would make the film “sound real.” “I wanted to use it in ‘Ritu,' but I couldn't because my lead actor, Nishan, didn't know Malayalam.”
Sync sound means that there is no one to prompt the actors. Instead, they have to learn their dialogues by heart.
Shyamaprasad has brought in Soheil Sanwari from Bollywood to record the sound. Soheil, who has worked on films such as ‘Yuvraj' and ‘Don 2,' says that Malayalam actors have adapted to the new technology pretty fast. “I think more and more films in India will have sync sound in the future. In Bollywood, most new-generation filmmakers are using it these days,” he says.
Mamta admits it took some time for her to get used to the new style of recording her dialogues, but she now finds it comfortable.
The next scene to be filmed has Mamta meeting Dileep on the beach. Dileep says he is delighted to be working with Shyamaprasad after a long time. “I acted in his first film ‘Kallu Kondoru Pennu' in 1998. My character in ‘Arike,' Shantanu, is a guy we can all easily identify with. His idea of love too would seem quite familiar,” he elaborates.
Samvritha, who had debuted opposite Dileep in ‘Rasikan,' says: “Kalpana is an interesting character. Her moods change often, just as her costumes, which range from trendy skirts to traditional saris.” The costumes are by Sakhi.
‘Arike' is being produced by Suresh Babu Thaneparambil, under the banner of Picture Perfect. Lyrics by Shibu Chakravarthy have been set to tune by Ouseppachan. Still photographer is Jijesh Vadi. ‘Arike' will be released in February 2012.