Shafi’s 101 Weddings is the tale of 101 couples who have to attend a two-week pre-marital counselling session prior to their big day.
The picturesque resort atop a lush green hill in the remote village of Kulamavu, Idukki district, is a beehive of activity, early on a peaceful Sunday morning. A few scenes for director Shafi's 101 Weddings, with Kunchacko Boban, Jayasurya and Biju Menon in the lead, are being canned in the foyer of one of the cottages in the resort, which has been rechristened ‘Kasturba Seva Gramam’ for the shooting. In the film, it is the venue of a mass marriage.
Most of the cast and crew of 101 Weddings are put up at the resort, which does away with delays in travel and makes it more convenient to finish the shooting quickly. At the moment, the weather is just about perfect but a drizzle or mist might play spoilsport any time. “There have been several movies with weddings as a backdrop, including a couple of my own – Kalyanaraman and Pulival Kalyanam. But 101 Weddings is the light-hearted tale of 101 couples. The couples who register for the wedding have to abide by certain conditions and they have been asked to come and stay at Kasturba Seva Gramam for two weeks before the event to attend a pre-marital counselling session. The happenings during this period are narrated in the story,” says Shafi, whose recent films include Marykkundoru Kunjaadu, Make-Up Man and Venicile Vyapari. Among his hits are movies such as Chocolate and Thommanum Makkalum.
In 101 Weddings, Kunchacko Boban plays a trickster named Krishnankutty a.k.a. Krish, while Jayasurya essays an effeminate dancer called Jyothish Kumar and Biju Menon dons the role of Antappan, a rowdy. Samvrutha Sunil and Bhama play the heroines. Salim Kumar, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Vijayaraghavan, Vijeesh and Urmila Unni play important characters in the film.
As he gets ready to face the camera, Kunchacko says: “Krish is the son of an idealistic father. However, he is rather unscrupulous, and his primary concern is to enjoy life. Krish is forced to attend the mass wedding course as one of the prospective grooms. But even there he tries to pull off a small-time scam by registering himself under a false name and religious identity.”
The role seems to be quite different from the chocolate boy image that he used to enact with panache. Says the actor: “Of late I’ve been playing quite a number of roles with shades of grey too. My chocolate boy image has helped me spring a few surprises on screen!”
The scene being shot features Khader (Salim Kumar), a man of modest means, meeting Krish in the hope that the young man would marry his daughter, Rukhiya (Bhama). Cinematographer Alagappan captures the sequence from different angles. Samvrutha plays Abhirami, who is involved in organising the event and is also one of the brides at the mass wedding. Jayasurya, who will face the camera next, is in the midst of getting ready for his makeover as Jyothish Kumar. “My character is a normal guy. It’s just that his mannerisms are funny, hilarious even,” says the actor. And how challenging is it for an actor to act in an effeminate role? “Actually, pulling off humour is much more difficult than doing a serious role. Actors spend a lot of time involved in the emotions of the characters they are essaying. So their mannerisms and nature tend to stay in our minds – well, at least for a while,” says Jayasurya.
101 Weddings is being produced under the banner of Film Folks. Kalavoor Ravikumar, who recently directed Father's Day, has written the screenplay and dialogues based on Shafi’s story. Rafeeq Ahmed’s lyrics have been composed by Deepak Dev. Stills are by Jayaprakash Payyannur.