As director Lal Jose’s Emmanuel, starring Mammootty and Fahadh Faasil in the lead, and director Vyshakh’s Sound Thoma, with Dileep in the lead, hit screens today, the filmmakers talk about their films and their concepts of entertainment.
IN A CLASS OF HIS OWN
His art of storytelling is quite unlike that of others in the field. And that is precisely why Lal Jose is now one of the top directors in Malayalam cinema. Just take a look at the variety in his filmography. Not many directors can boast an oeuvre that comprises films as different as Oru Maravathoor Kanavu, Meesa Madhavan, Chanthupottu, Classmates, Arabikkatha, Diamond Necklace, and, of course, Ayalum Njaanum Thammil, which won him his first Kerala State Film Award for the best director recently. Next up for the director is Emmanuel, starring Mammootty, Fahadh Faasil and newcomer Reenu Mathews in the lead. Produced by S. George and written by Vijeesh A.C., the film has cinematography by Pradeep Nair and music by Afsal Yusuf. Lal Jose talks about the film. Excerpts…
What is Emmanuel about?
It narrates the story of Emmanuel, who hails from a middle class family, and how he handles certain issues without compromising on his values even as he faces adverse situations. He finds it difficult to acclimatise to the changes and the new attitudes of the world around him. He had a dead end job at a publishing house. But when he loses his job and joins a new company, he realises how much the world has changed. While Emmanuel stands for the quietude of the older generation, Fahadh’s character, Jeevan Raj, represents the ambitious new generation.
What attracted you to the script?
I felt that it was a genuine and realistic story, which reminded me of my own experiences. There is not much melodrama or twists in the story but the incidents are subtle and gripping.
You have won the State award for the best director. Does the award come with some added responsibilities as a director?
I have worked really hard on each of my films and I don’t think the honour demands any additional responsibility.
You have been making films more frequently these days. How do you maintain the quality then?
Among the films that I made last year, Spanish Masala took more time than Diamond Necklace or Ayalum Njaanum Thammil but still it failed to create much of an impact. I had no films in 2011 and during the breaks between projects, I wasn’t sitting idle. I take time for scripting and pre-production, which helps me to start projects rather smoothly.
Has there been a drastic change in the tastes of the viewers over the years?
I feel that the difference has mainly been superficial. With the increasing number of film festivals, the availability of foreign films on DVD, TV channels exclusively devoted to movies and many courses where movies have been included as subjects of study, there is a difference for sure. But if we go deep into the psyche of the masses, we realise that it hasn’t had much of an effect on box office collections. For example, Diamond Necklace, the film with which I was closest to the so-called modern pattern, collected significantly less than full-fledged commercial entertainers such as Mayamohini and Ordinary.
What prompted you to become a producer and a distributor yourself?
I had planned a film with Fahadh in the lead almost three years ago but there were no takers. Then there were some portions in Spanish Masala, which I couldn’t make the way I wanted to due to certain issues, which unfortunately affected the quality of the film. All these made me think of turning a producer.
The in-film branding in Diamond Necklace was rather noticeable. Could it have been avoided? Couldn’t you have avoided the in-film branding in Diamond Necklace.
The story demanded the scene and I just used the idea. I feel it was done perfectly. Fahadh was not the star that he is today at that point of time and the film’s budget was too high, which made me think that we should go for in-film branding. I believe that it can be done wherever possible, without affecting the basic storyline.
How different are Mammootty and Fahadh Faasil as actors?
They belong to different generations and the way that they have grown up is not similar. It reflects in the way they behave and that suits the characters perfectly in Emmanuel.
SOUND OF SUCCESS
He has completed a hat trick of hits with Pokkiri Raja, Seniors and Mallu Singh. And now, director Vysakh wants more success with Sound Thoma, featuring Dileep and Namitha Pramod in the lead. Produced by Anoop and scripted by Benny P. Nayarambalam, Sound Thoma has cinematography by Shaji and music by Gopi Sundar. In this interview, Vysakh explains his concept of movies and on why he has always stood by the conventional hit formula. Excerpts…
What is the story of Sound Thoma ?
Thoma comes from a wealthy family, but has a cleft lip. He is speech impaired but he is in love with a radio jockey. Also, he shares a warm relationship with his father. The love story and the emotional angle have been combined here in a humorous way.
How tough was it for the ever garrulous Dileep to do a character with a speech impairment?
Sound Thoma is not about machismo so Dileep had a field day in character. He has taken the effort to mould himself into the role. He has really excelled, despite the heavy make-up the character requires and the constant need to maintain Thoma’s peculiar body language. I feel the story is pretty dramatic. In some of my earlier films such as Pokkiri Raja, for instance, the artistes were free to improvise. Here we have stuck to the script.
Why are all your frames is this penchant for frames that are mostly brightly coloured and loud?
It is perhaps synonymous with the kind of films that I make. I believe that the viewers who turn up for my films expect such grandeur.
On Dileep is singing a song in the film…
Thoma dreams about impressing the radio jockey. It had to be real and I couldn’t think of another singer giving voice for the character. Of course, the song is being presented in a humorous way.
While most of the young crop of filmmakers are experimenting with new patterns, you seem happy doing the formulaic commercial entertainers. Why?
It all depends on the purpose of the film and also on the kind of storyline that is being narrated. The so-called experiments are mainly targeted at a small group of movie buffs. My audiences, meanwhile, come to get mindlessly entertained!
Still, as a filmmaker, isn’t it tempting to break away from convention?
Of course, I have already started making some efforts on those lines. But when I make such a film, the viewers will know in advance on what to expect. And whenever I make it, the film has to be different from what is being made now as experiments.