Prithviraj's ‘Thanthonni’ releases today. Debutant director George Varghese talks about the making of the film.
“I am the youngest member of a large household much like the hero in the film. However, unlike him, I am not a thanthonni (brat),” says George Varghese, debutant director of the Prithviraj-starrer ‘Thanthonni,' just hours before the release of film. ‘Thanthonni,' which releases today, narrates the story of Kochu Kunju (Prithviraj) the youngest scion of the wealthy Vadakkan Veettil tharavadu, who insists on living life on his own terms.
Pointing out several similarities between the director's and his protagonist's backgrounds, George says those similarities helped him relate better to the story.
Scenarist T. A. Shahid, who has hits such as ‘Rajamanikyam,' ‘Balettan,' and ‘Mambazhakkalam' to his credit, has scripted ‘Thanthonni.'
Prithviraj, says the director, was the obvious choice for the role because of his off-screen image of being a rebel. And Prithviraj agrees completely. “Even my mother, Malllika, thought this title described my off-the-screen image very well. We had originally planned to name the film ‘Kutti Kurumban,' but once the title ‘Thanthonni' came up, every one was sure that it's the right one,” laughs Prithviraj. Telugu actor Sheela, who was earlier seen in ‘Maya Bazaar' opposite Mammootty, plays the bubbly heroine, Helen.
Yesteryear actor Ambika plays Prithviraj's mother. “Her role is an important one and should be a notable one for her as well,” says the director, whose passion for films began during his college days.
“I was active in some film societies and got inspired by some of the Iranian films, which had a surprisingly similar style to that of Malayalam cinema made during those days,” says the director.
It was scenarist T.A. Razack, who encouraged George to become a filmmaker. George's journey to the helm began with assisting director Anil C. Menon.
“I developed a rapport with Prithviraj during the making of M. Padmakumar's ‘Vaasthavam' and Bipin Prabhakar's ‘Khaki.' When Shahid and I went to Prithviraj with the script, he agreed to it instantly,” says the director.
‘Thanthonni' is being produced by Shahul Hameed Marikar. Two other producers were earlier involved with the project, but they had to pull out and it was only then that Marikar Films took over the production. “With a saleable star like Prithviraj in the lead, it was never really a problem to find a producer,” explains George.
Sajith Menon, who wielded the camera for ‘Kadha Samvidhanam Kunchacko,' is the cinematographer. Lyrics by Gireesh Puthenchery and Shahid have been composed by Tej Mervin. Jagathy Sreekumar, Vijayaraghavan, Captain Raju and Suresh Krishna are also part of the cast.
The director is all praise for his hero and his commitment to the project.
“Prithviraj has a great passion for films and he gets involved in every aspect of filmmaking. He does his homework well and is a thorough professional in every way. I have only gained from such dedicated efforts and I believe that the teamwork has made ‘Thanthonni' a film that I will be proud about for the rest of my life,” says George.
And what about opening-day jitters? “I have been so busy with the film's post-production works that the usual tensions about how it will be received and so on haven't really sunk in yet,” he says.