K.B. Venu’s August Club, releasing today, has Rima Kallingal and Murali Gopi playing lead roles in a story about the nuances in marital life.

There is always a certain beauty in combining music, romance and lyrical prose, believes director K.B. Venu. When he chanced upon friend and writer Anantha Padmanabhan’s short story Venalinte Kalaneekkangal, Venu was struck by its cinematic brilliance. “I was on the lookout for a good story. After reading Venalinte…, I had decided this would be it,” he says. Venu discussed the visual possibilites of the story with Ananthapadmanabhan and August Club was born.

The film is journalist-turned television personality Venu’s directorial debut. It is also the debut attempt at screen-writing for Anantha Padmanabhan, son of noted writer and filmmaker Padmarajan.

August Club explores the nuances of the man-woman relationship told through the perspective of Savithri, a gifted chess player, poet, wife and mother of two. Venu does not want to brand his kind of cinema. But at the same time, he says it would be a family drama, which has elements that would appeal to everyone. “It has a bit of romance, humour, music… everything that one would want in a film,” he says.

Rima Kallingal plays Savithri and Murali Gopi, her husband Nandagopan. The film also has Thilakan and Sukumari in important roles. “I consider it an honour to have got a chance to work with the stalwarts. Their enthusiasm is unparallelled. It is an experience I will always cherish,” Venu says. During the shooting, Thilakan was very ill and needed support to walk. “Despite his condition, he did his parts without fail, sometimes giving us suggestions.” Murali appears as a lovable, fun-loving character, vastly different from the negative roles he has portrayed thus far. “Rima, of course, was an obvious choice. She had the appearance and the intellectual colour to portray Savithri,” Venu says.

August Club celebrates an intelligent, independent woman as the central character around whom the plot is constructed. “There was a time in Malayalam cinema when women had powerful characters. Some of those films even had female protagonists. Somewhere down the line, we lost that to super-heroism. Rima’s role here is pretty demanding. A professional chess player has certain mannerisms, which she brought on effortlessly. She had clearly done her homework.”

Though the film is true to the original story, minor modifications have been introduced to broaden its cinematic scope. While the story begins in an urban setting, the narrative meanders to a village of chess players. The inspiration is from Marottichal, a village in Thrissur, which is famous for its chess-playing population. “Chess is their pastime. They are always playing chess. A bit of this village has been recreated in the film and the story develops around it,” Venu says.

Shot entirely at Alappuzha, August Club’s cast includes Mala Aravindan, KPAC Lalitha, Sunil Sugathan, Praveen Anidil Monisha Sagar, Sasi Kalinga and Ganapathy. Music is by composer duo Bennet Veetraag and lyrics by Rafeeq Ahmed.

The singers include Shreya Ghoshal, Sreenivas, Sujatha, Vijay Prakash. Thilakan’s son Shobi Thilakan has sung a few lines for Thilakan. The cinematograophy is by Prathap P. Nair and the film is produced by V.S. Atheesh. August Club will hit theatres today.