Blessy's 'Pranayam' delves into a relationship caught between the past and the present.
Two years after the searing 'Bhramaram', filmmaker Blessy continues romancing cinema with 'Pranayam', a tale of two men and a woman. The soft-spoken director turns eloquent when he talks about his latest creation.
"It is an intense, intimate exploration of a woman's mind, of love won and lost, of pain and passion. I have never seen such a film in recent times," says Blessy, who was in Thiruvananthapuram. Jayapradha, Mohanlal and Anupam Kher play lead roles in this unusual love story that demolishes the notion that love is for the young or that it is something confined to the physical parameters of a man-woman relationship. ‘Prayanam,' says Blessy, will redefine views about romance.
“Emotions becomes refined and distilled in the journey of life. As one passes through different stages of life, there is a certain detachment that alters the way we look at events and people. The journey of life itself is a big romance. It is the anticipation for tomorrow, for the next moment. Romance, I feel, is eternal and is present in every heart. I have tried to convey that thorough my film and its characters – Mathews, Grace and Achutha Menon,” explains Blessy.
The director takes us through the minefield of a relationship that is caught between the past and the present. In the process, it explores the vestiges of a relationship and its scars on a man and a woman who are trapped in their own emotional battlefields. Achuthan Menon's former wife Grace is now the wife of Mathews, a professor of philosophy, a paralytic. But Mathews savours each second in his life which enables him to turn his life into a celebration in the company of his wife. On the other hand, Achutha Menon sees himself as a loser who sacrificed his ambition and his career to win Grace's hand, only to lose her to another man.
Drawn to two men
“I used to wonder about the truism that a woman should love only one man at a time. What would be the state of a woman who is drawn to two men at the same time? Would it be wrong to share her love? My attempt has been to tackle all these questions in my film,” says Blessy.
The characters have been enacted by some of the finest actors in India. Mohanlal and the filmmaker have always struck gold with their partnership in films such as ‘Thanmatra' and ‘Bhramaram.' The filmmaker feels it is an enthusiasm that they share that helps them draw the best from each other. “As soon as Lalettan [Mohanlal] heard the story, he chose to play Mathews, a paralytic confined to a wheelchair. I think it is a sign of courage for a superstar to enact such a role. Physical movements are restricted and all your emoting has to done thorough expressions and voice modulation,” says Blessy. Mohanlal also sings the Leonard Cohen song ‘I am your man.'
After the bad patch that the actor has been going through of late, he sure must be banking on this character to get back to his winning ways. Jayapradha enacts Grace and Anupam Kher dons the role Achutha Menon.
Why is that Blessy never repeats his heroines and prefers casting leading ladies from other States in his films? “Who can replace Jayapradha? Grace had be to a woman in her forties or fifties who could still cast a spell on men. Most of my heroines are middle-aged women, and that is a reason why I am forced to look outside the realm of Malayalam cinema. Moreover, cinema goes beyond regional considerations and has a universal appeal. So language has never been a bar while casting an actor in a film. Anupam Kher was cast for his superb histrionics. It was amazing to watch Anupam Kher's ability to memorise the dialogues in a language that was alien to him and deliver a flawless performance.
With a smile, Blessy admits that his venture as an actor in Sasikumar's movie ‘Eswaran' has helped him understand the transformation that an actor has to make in a split second to become a character in a film, that too in front of the camera and hundreds of onlookers.
“I had to essay a character who speaks the Madurai slang. It was tough work just getting the lip synch right. The concentration that one requires to get into the skin of a character is awesome. It is almost like a mediation, that instant when one crosses over to become the character,” says Blessy.
However, the actor who has won prizes for his histrionics in college, says he has no plans to act. “My ambition has always been to become a director. When I was struggling for a foothold in the industry, Padmarajan offered me a role in his film. However, I told him that my desire was to become a director and now I am here, where I have aspired to be,” says the director.