Debutant scriptwriters Syam Pushkaran and Dileesh Nair on serving up the delectable Salt n’ Pepper

They've whetted our appetite for ‘good cinema' with a rollicking script that celebrates food. It's a script that effortlessly blends the real with the reel, one that dishes up non-stop fun, laughter, romance, and of course, food, in equal measure, leaving viewers hungry for more. Meet Mollywood's latest scriptwriter duo, Syam Pushkaran and Dileesh Nair, who found the recipe for success with Salt n' Pepper.

Understandably, the two youngsters (Syam is 26 years old and Dileesh, 30), both greenhorns to the industry, are over the moon now that their first ever movie script is the toast of the box office. “We never thought our little film would be this big a hit. Honestly, we're still a little shell shocked that the script even went to the floor!” say the duo, friends and former roommates, who share a love for cinema. While Syam is a fashion designer-turned- visual media person who hails from Thuravur in Alappuzha district, Dileesh, a native of Thodupuzha, is a 2D animator. The duo are now based in Kochi.

Light-hearted script

“We had a one-liner (industry lingo for a synopsis) ready and had approached a few directors. Although most of them liked what they heard, no one was willing to turn it into a movie,” says Syam. Then along came director Aashiq Abu of Daddy Cool fame. “Lucky for us Aashiq ettan was looking for a light-hearted script, something to do before his next superstar film came through. He loved our one-liner enough to give us an advance on the spot and asked us to come back with a full-fledged script,” adds Dileesh. Eight months later the cameras started rolling.

Salt n' Pepper is the tale of an archaeologist named Kalidasan (played by Lal) and Maya (Shwetha Menon), a dubbing artiste. A dosa sets off the relationship. Inexorably mixed up in the affair is the love story of a younger couple, Manu and Meenakshi (played by Asif Ali and Mythili, respectively). And different kinds of food, especially popular dishes from Kerala cuisine, also star in Salt n' Pepper.

“We always had this idea that if we ever were to write a script, then it would be the love story of a middle-aged couple. Now in order to form a bond they would have to have a common interest, and what better an interest than food to bond over? We wanted to realistically integrate our love for food into the script,” says Dileesh. And they managed to weave into the plot everything from Vazhakka appam to fresh tamarind to Thattil kutti dosa!

Syam adds: “We made Kalidasan a connoisseur of food and Maya, a foodie and a cook. In fact, food is so much linked to their emotions that in the first half of the film they are rarely seen without food or references to food. In the second half, as their frustration about their relationship mounts, food takes a back step – as it does in real life when you are disturbed about something.”

Malyalam cinema was once known for its realistic films and it's not surprising when the duo say that their inspiration is the film Ponmuttayidunna Thaaravu, directed by Satyan Anthikkad and penned by Sreenivasan and Reghunath Paleri. “We find Thattan Bhaskaran to be one of the most definitive roles in Malayalam cinema. He is down-to-earth, kind-hearted, loyal, and has a keen sense of humour, and, most importantly, as is revealed in the climax, is all too human!” say the duo. Other inspirations include the works of Basheer, and films such as Meleparambil Aanveedu, Kodiyettam and Yavanika.

Now that they have discovered the recipe for success, what's cooking? “Discussions are on. But Dileesh and I have agreed that only if we feel the thrill that we felt with the subject of Salt n' Pepper will we put pen to paper,” says Syam.