Saji Surendran talks about his latest film ‘Four Friends,' which released on Thursday.

Saji Surendran is on the cusp of a hat-trick. He is the serial director who came in from the cold to taste big-time success in films. After a lukewarm showing in television, Saji made ‘Ivar Vivahitarayaal,' a small-budget, verbose comedy with Jayasurya and Bhama, which became a runaway hit. Although critics frowned on the lack of a tight storyline and the relentless onslaught of slapstick comedy, viewers welcomed the film with open arms. Success is the only thing that counts in tinsel town and so, overnight, Saji found producers and actors queuing up to work with him.

His next film, ‘Happy Husbands,' also had a happy ending. Suddenly Saji found himself in the limelight. But the young film director says he knows better than anyone else how fickle success is.

As his ‘Four Friends' touched the silver screen yesterday, Saji talks about his dream run in Mollywood and his aspirations.

Is ‘Four Friends' a no-holds-barred comedy like your previous films?

It is not … and that is why I am a little tense. It is an entertainer with plenty of light moments but not in the genre of my earlier films. If people go to theatres to see an out-and-out laugh riot, they might be a little disappointed. The film, as the title says, eulogises friendship but it goes beyond mere moments and incidents to underline certain universal values of friendship. I would not like to elaborate more as I would like the viewers to see and judge for themselves as there is a bit of a surprise in the story line.

That is not to say there is no humour in ‘Four Friends.' The film has been shot in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and we have tried to come up with an interesting entertainer. Salim Kumar and Suraj Venjarmoodu and yesteryear actor Seema play important roles.

Why did you try to go in for a change when the last two films did so well?

Well, I wanted to tackle a different subject and widen my repertoire. There would be no growth in my filmography if I kept doing the same kind of films. ‘Four Friends,' which has also been scripted by Krishnan Poojappura, who had written my two other films, tugs at the heartstrings of the viewers. The dialogues and the treatment are quite different in this film. If you were to ask me to choose the film closest to my heart, it would certainly be ‘Four Friends.' The highlight is Kamal Haasan's cameo in the movie. It was a dream come true to direct the super star. He is acting in a Malayalam film after more than two decades.

You have used the classic ‘Yeh Dosti' song from ‘Sholay' in this film. Was that a ploy to garner attention.

The song is intrinsic to the film. It was not just pushed in for some music. We requested music director M. Jayachandran if he could rework the song for us and he agreed. Sankar Mahadevan and Udit Narayanan render this piece. Once you see the film, you will see how it flows with the theme and the situations. The song has also been used intelligently in the background score. K.J. Yesudas and his son Vijay also croon for us in the film.

While you have worked with Jayasurya and Jayaram earlier, how was it working with Meera Jasmine for the first time?

It was smooth sailing all the way. Contrary to what we had heard, Meera was cooperative and very hardworking. She was the first to reach the sets and the last to leave. If the script demands, I would have no hassles in casting her in my next four films as well. Jayasurya and I have a comfort zone that has gone beyond films. He is a friend now and he has come up with a superb performance in this film. Jayasurya plays Amir, Jayaram is Roy and Kunchacko Boban and Meera are Surya and Gouri respectively.

Making of the next one

We are discussing the plot of the movie that is being produced by Maniyan Pillai Raju. Krishnaettan is scripting that as well. We have not decided on the cast.

You have inspired many other directors of the small screen to step into films.

It was a struggle to get a break into films. As I know what is takes to get a toehold in Mollywood, I try my best to encourage as many newcomers as possible. There are several directors who are all set to make their mark in movies while several directors like Radhakrishnan Mangalath and Aji John have already launched their careers in tinselville. I value personal ties and so for all three of my films, I have kept the same team of technicians.