Director Priyanandanan talks about his latest film ‘Sufi Paranja Katha’, which releases today.

His films make viewers think. ‘Neythukaran’ and ‘Pulijanmam' established director Priyanandanan's credentials as a filmmaker who does not view cinema only as a means to please the box office. While ‘Pulijanmam' won the National award for the best feature film in 2006, the late actor Murali won the National Award for Best Actor for his performance in ‘Neythukaran.'

Priyanandanan's latest film ‘Sufi Paranja Katha' is based on writer K.P. Ramanunni's award-winning novel of the same name. The film has Sharbani Mukherjee in the role of Karthi, an upper class Hindu woman from a feudal background who changes her religion after she falls in love with Maamootty, played by Prakash Bare. The film dwells upon the difficulties the two face as Karthi finds it difficult to bridge her traditional upbringing and her present circumstances. The film, which was shown in the competition section of the International Film Festival of Kerala 2009, reaches theatres today.

In an interview to Friday Review, Priyanandanan talks about the film, his kinds of movies, awards and cinema…

When do you feel like making a particular story into a film?

When I feel like conveying or sharing a certain thought or memory with a large number of people. For instance, ‘Neythukaran' reminds us of how people fought for the freedom (that we take for granted today) with scant regard for their own well-being then. Look at Kaari Gurukkal in ‘Pulijanmam.' He devoted his life for the welfare of others, though he was aware about the repercussions on his own life.

The attitude of society has not changed much over the years and naturally, these stories have great meaning at all times.

What attracted you to ‘Sufi Paranja Katha'?

Our culture is so vivid that we respect the beliefs and rituals of other religions as well.

The focus in ‘Sufi Paranja Katha' is on Karthi who doesn't change her beliefs even when attracted to a man from a different religion.

Though we find people fighting each other in the name of religion these days, we have to keep in mind that we are all humans first. It's the relevance of the theme in the current scenario that attracted me to the story.

How was the reaction to ‘Sufi Paranja Katha' at IFFK 2009?

I am really proud that the film was included in the competition section and was screened in packed theatres. It was a great feeling when I heard the comment that Karthi's confidence is enough to take on the fundamentalists (laughs).

Your philosophy of filmmaking?

I want my films to be entertaining and watched by the viewers. I don't believe in making films to win awards.

For instance, if I feel a song would add to the overall effect, I would not mind using it. Most of the time my thoughts may not be in tandem with what has been generally accepted by society, but I am trying to put my best into the films that I make.

Ever considered changing your style of filmmaking?

In fact, I feel that the styles adopted in making my three films have been different and that is something which I keep in mind while thinking about a new subject.

Do you feel that Malayalam films have now lost its edge when compared to films from other languages?

Not really. I do feel that we still make genuine films in Malayalam and it may well be all about how they are being marketed. During recent times I enjoyed watching Blessy's ‘Bhramaram,' Ranjith' s ‘Paleri Manikyam: Oru Pathira Kolapathakathinte Katha' and Rosshan Andrrews' ‘Ividam Swargamanu.' I thought they were some interesting attempts to make different films.

Do you wish you could make films more frequently?

Of course I do, but there are quite a lot of factors involved which causes the delay. I am going ahead with a story by Ranjith, which is based on god-men and certain beliefs. I also have three other stories that are good enough to be made into films. I plan to make a film based on Ambikasuthan Mangad's ‘Marakkappile Theyyangal.' There have been certain published works that I would like to adapt for the silver screen, such as Vaikom Muhammed Basheer's ‘Shabdangal.'