Aashiq Abu’s Idukki Gold is a trip down memory lane for five old timers.

In an industry where most filmmakers tend to play it safe by sticking to the latest trends or sure shot recipes in order to churn out blockbusters, Aashiq Abu prefers to be refreshingly different. The director returns to screens today with his new film Idukki Gold that he promises will have viewers on a high.

In a marked departure from his earlier flicks such as 22 Female Kottayam and Da Thadiya that featured the young generation of actors essaying decidedly new-age themes, Idukki Gold shimmers with nostalgia for the old way of life. For one, it stars in the lead five veteran actors, namely Maniyanpillai Raju, Pratap Pothen, Vijayaraghavan, Babu Antony and Raveendran.

Idukki Gold is about a trip that a group of five friends take back to their roots, to their old school in the high ranges of Idukki, where they all studied 35 years ago,” says Aashiq.

“It starts rolling when one of them, Michael (Pratap Pothen), who used to live in former-Czechoslovakia, places an ad in a Malayalam newspaper to find his old school friends. He manages to find Ravi (Ravindran), Madan (Maniyanpillai Raju), Raman (Vijayaraghavan) and Antony (Babu Antony). Together they go on a trip to that seminary school in Idukki, where they completed their class 10 in 1978,” adds Aashiq.

Ravi is a struggling photographer and a chronic bachelor, who is yet to come to terms with digital technology, while Madan runs an agricultural and cattle farm. Raman is a government employee and an activist, and Antony runs a restaurant in Fort Kochi with his wife, a French woman.

Considering that ‘Idukki Gold’ is also the name of a variety of marijuana, has Aashiq made a stoner film? The director refuses to confirm or deny it, only saying: “the film will define what the title stands for.”

He says he had initially planned Idukki Gold as his project following Salt N’ Pepper, but it got delayed due to several reasons. “The shoot in Idukki was strenuous but it was wonderful teamwork, with the senior actors showing great excitement and enthusiasm to work with the relatively younger crew. It was a most enjoyable shoot too and we all shared great camaraderie on set,” says Aashiq.

The director’s last two outings at the box office, Da Thadiya and Gauri, one of the five segments of the portmanteau flick 5 Sundarikal, received a mixed response at the box office. Nonetheless, expectations are high.

“I am aware of the expectations but they do not deter me from experimenting with new genres. Also,

I’m not overly concerned that viewers might be coming to view my films with certain preconceived notions about its style, theme, narrative, and so on,” he adds.

Aashiq will start shooting Gangster next with Mammootty, who played the hero in his maiden venture, Daddy Cool. There is also a project with Mohanlal that will happen next year.

Idukki Gold has been produced by M. Renjith under the banner of Rejaputhra Visual Media. Shyju Khalid wields the camera, while Bijibal is the music director. The film’s script has been written by Shyam Pushkaran and Dileesh Nair, based on a story by Santhosh Echikkanam. Sajitha Madathil and Praseeda play the female leads. Actor-director Lal also plays an important role in the film.