As Vineeth Sreenivasan's 'Malarvadi Art Club' releases today, the young director talks about the film and his multiple roles in its making.

Although Vineeth Sreenivasan was on song from his first hit as a playback singer, he had made it clear that his goal was to become a director. It has been a dream run for the youngster who tasted success as singer, actor and composer. But the engineering degree, the stints as a music composer, director, singer and actor were all meant to clear the path towards the director's chair. And he said so each time, the mandatory question of plans and the future came up.

Dream come true

It is the culmination of that dream, as ‘Malarvadi Arts Club' reaches theatres today. Scripted and directed by Vineeth, the film also has songs composed and sung by Vineeth. Quite a one-man show and a huge responsibility for a debutant director; plus the lead roles in the film are donned by debutant actors. “Since this is my first film, I wanted to give it my best. It was a learning process for me as well. Moreover, I was advised by veterans such as my father, Dileep, Nedumudi Venu, Janardhanan, Jagathy Sreekumar and cinematographer P. Sukumar,” says Vineeth.

The film traces how the bond between five friends gets tested and changed over the years. Vineeth, a great fan of the American serial ‘Friends,' says: “I always wanted my first film to be on friendship and that got me thinking about where such a group of friends would hang out in a village. Since I grew up in a village in Malabar, I am familiar with the dynamics of such a place and its people. So the story of the five friends unfolds in a village in North Kerala.”

And that is how ‘Malarvadi Arts Club' was conceptualised. Vineeth explains that the five friends in his film had grown up together and Malarvadi Children's Club evolves into an art club with the passage of time

Then began the difficult task of writing the script. Not an easy task at any point of time. And when there is a master script writer like Sreenivasan for a father at home, the pressure must have been enormous on the debutant filmmaker. “Right from the time, I decided to make filmdom my area of work, that pressure has always existed. But, surprisingly, the only time I really enjoyed myself was during the filming process. It was an exhilarating experience,” says Vineeth.

However, Vineeth put his head down, finished the script and read it out to his father. “Each time, he would just say: ‘No, this is all wrong' and I would go back to my script. After four or five attempts, he began discussing the script with me. Initially my dialogues sounded brittle and stilted even to me but eventually it all began to fall into place,” recalls the young filmmaker.

Kuttu, Prakash, Purushu, Santosh and Praveen are the five friends while Geetu and Revathy play the lead female characters in this story of male bonding.

In the meantime, Dileep who had heard about Vineeth's decision to turn filmmaker got in touch with him and wanted to know if he could hear the script. As soon as Vineeth narrated it, Dileep replied in the affirmative with a rider: “There is no hurry. Take as much time as you want with the script.”

The young director says getting a producer like Dileep was a lucky break. His experience before and behind the camera was valuable when it came to the logistics of the production.

Selecting the actors

Along with the script, Vineeth was also involved in selecting the cast for his film. The encouraging response to his post on Youtube calling for young actors was multiplied manifold when Dileep, who is producing the film under his banner Grand Productions, placed a print advertisement calling for wannabe actors. From the 6,000-plus applications, Vineeth selected 140 and culled it down to 20 after a series of interviews and acting workshops. “Since this is my first film, I wanted actors who would not have any kind of an image in the viewers' mind.”

And the actors are ….

“I would rather wait for their credits to show up on screen,” adds Vineeth apologetically, showing his savvy in marketing his film as well. A star will appear in a cameo and that is also a surprise that will be revealed on the screen. The seven songs for the film, already topping the charts, have been tuned by Shaan. “The songs are an organic part of the film; no dream sequences,” says Vineeth, displaying flashes of his father's deadpan humour.

As ‘Malarvadi Arts Club' opens its door to viewers, the film, Vineeth's ode to friendship, is likely to strike a chord with many viewers.