Vineeth Sreenivasan on his romantic adventure Thattathin Marayathu that reaches the marquee on Friday.

Vineeth Sreenivasan is not the most voluble of actors. But get him talking about cinema and music and then he turns articulate, coming up with interesting observations and candid confessions. So, although most of us have read that his second directorial venture Thattathin Marayathu (TM) is a romance, those who have been following his work know that this is one youngster who does not follow the herd. He puts his head and heart into his work and then lets his audience do the talking. As with his first film Malarvady Arts Club (MAC), Vineeth has written the script of this film as well.

Here is Vineeth talking about the movie, its making and its stars…

The genesis of the film

I was reading a short story by M.J. Akbar and Indian Dream, one of the short stories, stayed in my mind. I began the script when I was in Prague and worked on it for nine months. I wanted to direct a romantic flick and I felt I had got it right when I began working on the script. The story unfolds in Thalassery, a place I grew up in. Each region in Kerala has got its own distinctive culture, dialect and societal norms. Thalassery is a coastal town and spice traders have been frequenting her shores for ages. That has shaped the life and society of the region. TM, in a way, celebrates Thalassery, the culture and her people. TM opens on a beach and ends on a beach.

The story

It is a romance between two youngsters belonging to two different faiths. Vinod, [essayed by a trim Nivin Pauly] is your average small-town guy who falls in love with this ethereal looking Aisha, played by Isha Talwar. I make no claims about the story being different or unique. We have tried to narrate an ageless theme in a modern world with its own set of complexities and issues. When you are working on such a film, you tend to draw on your own experience and those of your friends. So the writer also gets wrapped up in a romantic mood that enhances the story-telling. [Vineeth laughs and agrees and that he himself was in a romantic mood as he plans to get married to his sweetheart later this year.] Each frame has been filmed with a great deal of care to enhance the mood of the story and its characters.

The players in the cast

Niven, Aju Varghese and Bhagat Manuel are some of the actors I worked with in MAC too. Then there is Ahmed Siddique, Sunny Wayne, Manikuttan and veteran Sreenivasan and Manoj K. Jayan. As with my previous film we had a workshop to help the actors familiarise themselves with the characters in the film.

Casting Isha Talwar in the lead

I was keen on casting a Malayali in the key role of Aisha. We went through several portfolios and still could not find the person I had in mind. That is when Jomon T. John, cinematographer of the film, showed me a photograph of Isha. We requested her to meet us for a photo shoot and after I saw her stills in the costume, I knew I had found my actor to play Aisha.

This character has an ethereal air to her, she is someone much beyond Vinod’s wildest dreams. So I felt that Isha was the best person to enact that character. Her dedication and hard work have to be admired. We wrote her lines in English and underlined the place which needs to be stressed and so on…When she came to the sets, she hadmemorised her dialogues! I know there has been talk about her not looking like a Malayali. But people forget that there are very fair women and men in Thalassery. When it comes to style and fashion, there are several youngsters who are right up there on what is in the world of fashion. It is a misconception that small town youngsters have no clue about what’s in.

The music

Eight songs have been scored by Shaan Rahman. ‘Anuragathin Velayil’, which was the first song from the movie to be uploaded on YouTube, has won a place in the charts. While I have written that one, ‘Muthu Chippi’, and ‘Thattathin Marayathe Penne’ and ‘Shyamambaram’ have been written by Anu Elizabeth. I wanted the lyrics from a different perspective and that I why opted for Anu, a newcomer to Mollywood. In fact, even the title of the film was derived from her lyrics.

Father’s touch

[Laughs]Yes, I did show him the script after I finished it. Last time, I had showed it to him when I was still writing it and he had suggested several revisions. But this time, he said he liked it as soon as he read the complete script.