Debut filmmaker Aji John on setting a trend with his ‘Nallavan’.

Deadlocks and controversies done with (at least temporarily), Malayalam cinema is, it seems, back with a bang. And no one is more thrilled about it than Aji John, the director of the Jayasurya-starrer ‘Nallavan,' which is releasing today. It is after all his first film at the helm.

Dream come true

“Of course, it is very exciting! This film is a dream come true for me; the culmination of my sustained efforts over the years to becoming a director. This time, last year, the film was still on paper. I am thrilled that it is finally happening,” says Aji, who is a film editor-turned-serial director- turned-filmmaker. “But it's not only because it is my first film. With ‘Nallavan' you'll see a different approach, a new trend in Malayalam cinema. It is a youth-oriented film, which is a blend of action, sentiment, romance, songs, comedy and what not. I like to call it as a couple of hours of pure entertainment; a fast-track cinema that is kind of like what we are used to with Tamil and Telugu entertainers,” he adds with a smile.

Set in the mid-1990's, in a village on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border, ‘Nallavan' narrates the tale of how circumstances turn a youngster into a criminal. Jayasurya plays the lead role of Kocherukkan, a genial young man who has since childhood worked as a servant in the house of a local ‘gounder' (landlord). Kocherukkan's world is his lady love, Malli (played ‘Paleri-Manickyam…' girl Mythili), who also works as a servant in the house of another landlord. After Kocherukkan is forced to leave the village, Malli's boss fixes her marriage to another and it is up to Kocherukkan to rescue her. The trials and tribulations of taking the law into his hands and the reasons for a few jailbreaks in between form the crux of the story. This is Jayasurya's first role as an action hero .

“Jayasurya was a natural choice. He was very enthusiastic during the entire process. Besides it's not everyday that an actor is ready to dedicate more than four months to a shoot. He was willing to give it his all when it was required of him, although this kind of role was a new to him,” says Aji.

Interestingly, Jayasurya enacts three roles that feature three stages in the life of Kocherukkan. And there are remarkable differences in the stages, what with the costume, the mannerism and even the physicality.

“Jayasurya has essayed with élan Kocherukkan as a 20-year-old, a 25-year-old and as a 35-year-old. The story starts in the present and is told as a flashback, focussing on these three stages,” says Aji. Again interestingly, Jayasurya also has four get-ups in the film; three get-ups to go with the above and a rather “mysterious” fourth. “The fourth get-up is the suspense,” says Aji, with a wink.

And what's next for the young director? “Cinema allows us a large enough canvas to do want we want, something different, doesn't it? I hope to do commercial entertainers with a difference. I am currently in the process of casting for my next film ‘Playboy,' and come 2011, I am all set to direct Jayasurya once again in a yet-to-be-titled film,” he says as he signs off.