Director Priyadarsan is teaming up with Mohanlal in yet another reel caper

‘Raindrops keep fallin’ on my head…And just like the guy whose feet are too big for his bed… Nothin’ seems to fit; Those raindrops are fallin’ on my head, they keep fallin…’

Filmmaker Priyadarsan is certainly in tune with the times as his caller tone indicates. The number from Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid keeps playing for a while before Priyadarsan takes the call. After giving an appointment for an interview, he rushes back to his work. He has been in the city for the shooting of Geethanjali, his new Malayalam film, with none other than Mohanlal in the lead. The actor is playing Dr. Sunny Joseph, who made his reel debut two decades ago in Manichitrathazhu.

On a rainy day, we meet up with the filmmaker who is coming back to Mollywood two years after his desert adventures with Arabiyum Ottakavum P. Madhavan Nairum…, another Mohanlal-starrer. Dressed in his favourite black, Priyadarsan is all smiles while talking about his return to Mollywood after directing the Bollywood flick Tezz.

Dismissing reports that Geethanjali is a sequel to Manichitrathazhu, Priyadarsan says that Mohanlal had been keen on reviving Sunny and so the filmmaker was looking around for a suitable subject and story line.

Twenty years later, the popularity of Manichitrathazhu, has not waned. On the contrary it has become a cult film. So it was a challenge to come up with a new set of adventures of the doc with a quirky sense of humour. “The actors have changed, the audience has changed and so we had to come up with a story that could live up to the expectations created by the characters in Manichitrathazhu,” points out Priyadarsan.

The flick, a psychological thriller, unfolds in a bungalow that is rumoured to be haunted. “It deals with paranoid delusions and its aftermath. Many of the characters could be suspects in this thriller. The suspense has been maintained right through the end. Even after the ‘culprit’ is revealed, the script does not falter,” says Priyadarsan. He believes that Dr. Sunny has the potential to be made in to a series of capers like the escapades of Pink Panther or James Bond.

Adding that this is one of the few films in which he is not working with his favourite art director Sabu Cyril, he says that this time around he has Lalgudi N. Illayaraja, Sabu’s former assistant, an award-winning art director himself, doing up the sets for the movie. “Illayaraja won the national award for Viswaroopam. He has his hands full because Geethanjali requires a great deal of technical wizardry as well,” says the film director.

Throwing a few teasers, he says this flick has a ‘ghost’ that the audience can see. “There have been leaps in technology since the days of Manichitrathazhu and we decided to make use of that,” he explains.

Nearly 30 years ago, the filmmaker made his debut as director in the mad comedy Poochakkoru Mookuthi with Mohanlal and Menaka playing the lead. The film was produced by Suresh Kumar. Now, Priyadarsan is working with Suresh and Menaka’s daughter, Keerthy. “Yes, time has flown,” he laughs, and adds: “She is a kid I have carried around and it is great to work with her. When we work with a team that we are familiar with, naturally the comfort level is higher and work does not seem like work all the time,” he muses.

Over the years Priyadarsan has introduced and guided several youngsters with cinema in their dreams into tinsel town. “You can’t really help anyone. All you can do is guide them and show them the path. Then they have to take the journey themselves,” he says modestly.

As one the leading filmmakers in the country and the only one from Mollywood who made it this big in Bollywood, Priyadarsan is in a happy space today. He says with justifiable pride that he is perhaps among the few if not the only director in Hindi to have directed 29 films in that language. So when is the next one? “Soon,” he says.

Son rise

It is son rise in the Malayalam film industry with children following in their father’s and mother’s footsteps into filmville. Priydarsan’s son, Siddarth, is studying films in San Francisco. So will we see him soon behind the camera or in front? “Well, he is not really comfortable in any Indian language and so I asked him in what language would he be able to make movies and he told me ‘Who told you I was planning to make films in India?’” recounts Priyadarsan.

He adds that the actor he has his eyes on is Pranav, Mohanlal’s son. “He is a terrific actor. I have seen him act in plays in school and he was selected as the best actor too. In fact, I would say he is better than the father. But, now, he says he does not want to be cinema,” says Priyadarsan, with a tinge of regret. Well, watch this space!