Veteran lyricist Kaithapram talks about casting Pakistani cricketer Mohammad Asif in his debut film 'Mazhavillinattam Vare'.

Mohammad Asif was tormenting English batsmen in the first Test at Nottingham when veteran lyricist Kaithapram Damodaran Namboothiri, sitting at his home in Kozhikode, was speaking about how he got the Pakistani cricketer to agree to star in his debut directorial venture ‘Mazhavillinattam Vare.'

“I did not expect the news to create so much buzz. It is good to find that my first film as a director has got so much attention. I have had to answer so many phone calls from around the country, even from foreign news agencies,” said a gleeful Kaithapram about what is perhaps the biggest casting coup in Malayalam cinema in recent times.

Choosing Asif

So how did he zero in on Asif? “My film required a famous cricketer from Pakistan and the first name that came to my mind was that of Wasim Akram. He was interested in the project, when I went to meet him in Chennai, but he could not take it up due to health reasons. It was then that I thought of Asif. I sent my son Deepankuran, who debuts as a music director in this film, along with former cricketer J.K. Mahendra to England to talk to Asif, who readily agreed,” elaborated Kaithapram, who added that he had been thinking about directing a film for the last couple of years.

“Actually, I would have turned to direction a lot earlier if the first film I wrote the screenplay for – ‘Sopanam' (1993) – had succeeded at the box office. Its failure proved a deterrent. And in those days I was extremely busy as a lyricist, so I did not think much about directing,” he said.

‘Mazhavillinattam Vare,' is not all about cricket, though. “The central theme of the film is that boundaries and religions do not, or rather should not, matter. Asif plays a cricketer who comes from Pakistan for a coaching camp in Kannur. There is also another reason for his visit and herein lies the crux of the film,” he said.

Other cricketers

Kaithapram is also planning to get some prominent Indian cricketers such as S. Sreesanth, to appear in the film. “I haven't spoken to Sreesanth yet, but it would be great if I could rope in him as well,” he said.

The legend of the deity Parasinikkadavu Muthappan would also play a significant role in the film. And yes, music will be an integral part of the film.

“Cricket and music can go hand in hand. The songs will be sung by Yesudas, Udit Narayan, Shankar Mahadevan, K.S. Chithra and Deepankuran himself,” said Kaithapram.

The shoot of ‘Mazhavillanattam Vare,' will begin in September. “The entire film will be shot in Kannur and Thalassery, a town that has a glorious tradition of cricket,” said Kaithapram.

Looking back on his 25-year-career in Mollywood, which he began as the lyricist for ‘Ennennum Kannettante,' Kaithapram said that he wished he could have composed for a few more films.

“I had composed several songs for films such as ‘Desadanam,' ‘Kaliyattam,' ‘Ennu Swantham Janakikuttikku,' but somehow I didn't get that many assignments as a composer,” he said.

As for writing songs, he said that he likes to write lyrics before they are tuned and not the other way around, as is the practice these days.

At the moment though, all he can think about is how Asif can bowl over Malayalam cinema.