Anwar Rasheed's ‘Ustad Hotel' is a coming-of-age film that delineates the deep bond between a young man and his grandfather.
Kozhikode beach looks lovely on a pleasant Monday afternoon. The blue sea and the bluer sky sooth the eye, even as the soft breeze drives away the heat.
There are quite a few people on the beach and they are surprised to see a new ‘Ustad Hotel' that has sprung up overnight. It is only a little later that visitors to the beach realise that it's not a real hotel, but the set for Anwar Rasheed's new film ‘Ustad Hotel!'
A little away from the hotel, Dulquer Salmaan and Thilakan are rehearsing their scene. As the shot rolls, Thilakan, dressed in a typical old-world Muslim costume, starts making tea.
Thilakan gives a cup of lemon tea to Dulquer, who is dressed in khaki trousers and blue t-shirt. The young actor takes a sip, smiles at Thilakan, and asks him a question. The director is pleased with the scene he sees on his monitor and shouts “Cut.” He then tells cinematographer, Loganathan, what he needs for the next scene, which also features Dulquer and Thilakan.
“Thilakan portrays the character of Kareem, who runs Ustad Hotel, which serves the best biriyani in Kozhikode. Dulquer plays Faizee, Kareem's grandson, and their relationship is the central theme of ‘Ustad Hotel,'” explains Anwar, the director of blockbusters such as ‘Rajamanikyam' and ‘Chotta Mumbai.'
The current scene, he adds, has Faizee asking his grandfather about the lemon tea. “He wants to know why the tea tasted so different. Faizee is a non-resident Indian who takes care to keep alive his special bond with his grandfather. This film is different from anything I have done before. It is not a huge film with a huge star cast. ‘Ustad Hotel' is a feel-good film,” says Anwar.
Having sipped the tea and got his shots canned, Dulquer explains why he chose ‘Ustad Hotel' as his second film. “This is a coming-of-age film and it is a genre I rather like; I enjoyed films such as ‘Wake Up Sid' and ‘Udaan' and wanted to do one like that myself. I like the character of Faizee too,” says the actor, who is quietly enjoying his successful debut in ‘Second Show.'
Shortly afterwards, it is time for the break and Thilakan is ready to talk about his character. “It is a great role, the kind that I enjoy doing at this stage of my career. I want to do roles like this that offer me some challenges as an actor. And this film revolves around my character, Kareem, and his relation with Faizee. He is an elderly man but is still passionate about being a chef and running his own hotel,” says the veteran actor, who made a splendid comeback to the mainstream Malayalam cinema with Ranjth's ‘Indian Rupee.'
Nithya Menen is the leading lady of ‘Ustad Hotel'; she plays Shabana, an interior designer. Siddique, Mamukoya, Bhagath Manuel, Lena, and Kunjan are also part of the cast.
The movie is produced by Listin Stephen under the banner of Magic Frames and is written by Anjali Menon. Lyrics by Rafeeq Ahamed have been set to music by Gopi Sundar. Costumes are by Sameera Saneesh. Stills are by Sreejith Chettippadi. ‘Ustad Hotel' will open in cinemas in May.