The unbeatable pair of Mohanlal and Sreenivasan get together in T.K. Rajeevkumar's film 'Oru Naal Varum', which has been scripted by Sreenivasan.

A stately vintage house in Shangumugham, Thiruvananthapuram, has been turned into a family court. Tense scenes show a couple being cross examined as they fight for the custody of their child. Sameera Reddy, making her debut in Mollywood, has all the right expressions on her face and in her eyes as film director T.K. Rajeevkumar explains the kind of reactions he wants as he goes in for a close shot of her face. After a rehearsal, Sameera is ready for Manoj Pillai's camera and as a crew member reads the lines, her face depicts the reactions – anger, indignation and anguish.

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Rajeev is pleased with the shot and goes quickly for the next scene as his team jumps into action to arrange the room for the scenes that are being filmed in the morning schedule. Before going to change her costume, Sameera takes time off for a quick tête-à-tête. Dressed in a simple sari, Sameera's Meera is very different from her glam doll image. “I am enjoying my stint in South Indian cinema. But I find Malayalam easier than Tamil,” claims Sammera, saying bits of her dialogue aloud and carefully enunciating the words that she finds it difficult to pronounce. Soon Sameera disappears into her caravan.

While the props are being put in place, the director gets some time to talk about his film ‘Oru Naal Varum’, which has been scripted by the one and only Sreenivasan. The film also marks the coming together of the unbeatable pair – Mohanlal and Sreenivasan – after ‘Udayanannu Tharam’.

“It has been seven years since I made a Malayalam film,” says Rajeev whose last hit was the unforgettable ‘Kannuezhuthi Pottumthottu’, Manju Warrier's last film before she quit acting. In the meantime, Rajeev helmed the Kerala State Chalachitra Academy, directed a Bollywood film, and the Malayalam film ‘Sita Kalyanam’. “I have never done a comedy before and so it is a new genre for me. ‘Oru Naal Varum’ has a realistic theme that deals with social issues such as corruption and consumerism but it is all narrated with dollops of humour; it also narrates the story of a husband and wife and the economic and social pressures that create fissures in their relationship. The script has Sreenivasan's signature all over it,” explains Rajeev with a smile. ‘Oru Naal Varum’ is about the travails of Kulappuli Sukumaran, who is made to run from pillar to post after he submits his application for permission to build a house.

“Gopikrishnan, an assistant town planner, is the epitome of corruption. Nothing moves in his office without money lubricating each deal. Meera, Sukumaran's wife, is a software professional and Devayani plays Gopikrishnan's wife,” explains producer Maniyan Pillai Raju who plays the genial host to mediapersons and friends who keep visiting the sets.

Despite the heat, Raju prefers to be on the sets. “Filmmaking is my passion and I enjoy the heat and the dust of the sets. I play a builder in the film. The last film I acted with Mohanlal and Sreenivasan was ‘Vellaanakalude Nadu’. He avers he could not have got a better team for his film. “Rajeev is also an excellent technician and so there is no waste of time and film and we are on schedule,” beams Raju.

Suraj Venjarmoodu, Jagadish and Nedumudi Venu are some of the other actors who add to the story line. Nedumudi Venu is a former military officer whose dream of a house is entangled in red tape. “The patriotic and principled soldier is aghast when he is expected to cough up certain amounts for various permits and refuses to pay,” says Nedumudi Venu.

The film will be released in May. Lyrics by poet Kattakada Murugan have been tuned be M.G. Sreekumar. Still photographer is Hari Thirumala.

Post-lunch, a surprisingly trim Mohanlal joins the sets and the enthusiasm is palpable. Actors playing advocates pack the ‘court room’ as hard-hitting dialogues fill the air. Rajeev watches the proceedings on the monitor and the camera starts rolling again.