Director Rosshan Andrrews talks about the making of ‘Casanovva,' perhaps Malayalam's costliest movie ever.
In 2005, without any of the customary apprehensions of a debutant, Rosshan Andrrews surprised every one with the slickly made ‘Udayananu Thaaram.' With his next two films, ‘Notebook' and ‘Ividam Swargamanu,' the director managed to carve a niche for himself in Malayalam cinema. Although Rosshan launched his latest film, ‘Casanovva' a few years ago, the film scripted by Bobby and Sanjay with Mohanlal in the lead, took a while to make. With ‘Casanovva' all set to have a grand release at a record number of theatres next week, the director looks visibly upbeat. In an interview to FridayReview, Rosshan opens up about how he dared to dream about the rather ambitious extravaganza that is ‘Casanovva.' Excerpts from an interview…
What should viewers expect from ‘Casanovva'?
(Smiles) ‘Casanovva' is a highly entertaining, romantic tale, where several facets of romance are being shown. I have attempted to make a technically brilliant visual spectacle. Beyond all the hype, I would like viewers to come to theatres without any prior inferences and be ready to enjoy the experience.
Can you tell us a little about the characters in the film?
Mohanlal plays the title role of Casanovva, a man who enjoys the company of women. The story is set in Dubai, and explains how one can achieve certain things through romance. It is based on the concept that ‘love will prevent crime.' Shriya Saran, Lakshmi Rai, Jagathy Sreekumar, Lalu Alex, Shankar, Sanjana, and four newcomers – Abhishek, Shamsi, Arjun and Vikram – are part of the cast.
Why did ‘Casanovva' take so long to make?
I started working on ‘Casanovva' in 2007, after ‘Notebook.' The story demanded a big budget and initially there were no producers willing to take up the project. The following year the Confident group agreed to produce the film and we had a gala launch in Bangalore. The shooting of ‘Casanovva' actually started only in September 2010 and we had various schedules in Dubai, Bangkok, and Bangalore. In between I made ‘Ividam Swargamanu.' Then we had to take a break when Mohanlal went to work in ‘China Town.'
There were also certain technical difficulties that we faced in Dubai and Bangkok. In fact, we have shot the film in 81 days and that is not a big duration for a film of this scale. I want to make one thing clear though, the delay hasn't affected the film's quality and I have not compromised on any aspect of the film.
‘Casanovva' is being touted as the costliest film ever made in Malayalam….
The producer, Dr. C. J. Roy of Confident group, wanted to make a film on a big scale, like it is done in Hindi and Tamil.
We were actually looking for a producer who could dream big. I would say that ‘Casanovva' has been made on a larger scale than ‘Pazhassi Raja' or ‘Urumi,' which are regarded as the costliest films made in Malayalam.
Then, the obvious question is that whether such exorbitant investments are viable from a marketing point of view?
Beyond the revenue from the theatres and the satellite rights, the producers of ‘Casanovva' are considering the mileage, the publicity, and the image for their brand which would easily make sense to a prudent investor. The Confident group usually spends around Rs.15 crores annually on publicity and the impact from this film could benefit much more than their usual streams. Also, we are planning for a wide release and hope that the viewers like the film.
You are known as a costly director. Are you comfortable with that tag?
I don't mind such labels if my films get appreciated. But one significant thing here is that I alone am not responsible for the budget. The subject that we had chosen demanded such a budget and all the films that I have done until now, be it ‘Udayananu Thaaram,' ‘Notebook' or ‘Ividam Swargamanu,' have been well appreciated. Producers can be proud of these movies. Haven't we seen producers who coughed up huge sums of money only to later feel ashamed of the films which were eventually made? I have never compromised on the quality of the movies. Right now, I have two projects in Malayalam and two in Hindi. If the producers have no confidence in me, how come so many big names are approaching me to make films?
The recently released ‘Padmasree Bharat Dr. Saroj Kumar' is widely regarded as an unofficial sequel to ‘Udayananu Thaaram.' What is your take on the film?
I became a director only when scenarist and actor Sreenivasan agreed to write a script for me. I had no plans to make a sequel to ‘Udayananu Thaaram' and Sreenivasan had talked to me before going ahead with the new project. All I want to say is that I just want Sreenivasan to succeed in whatever he does.
Have you replaced ousted Prithviraj in your forthcoming film ‘Mumbai Police'?
Contrary to what has appeared in a section of the media, I haven't replaced Prithviraj in ‘Mumbai Police' and he has not opted out of it. We have launched the project with him in the lead and we will start working on the dates after the release of ‘Casanovva.' Prithviraj and I share a great friendship and he was in fact the first person to text me saying how much he loved the trailer of ‘Casanovva.' Talking about ‘Mumbai Police,' the rights of the film has already been sold in four languages and that's even before scenarists Bobby and Sanjay completed the script! A big star outside Malayalam has shown interest in working in ‘Mumbai Police.' It can also be made with fresh faces in the lead, but Prithviraj certainly remains our first priority.
Finally, what next?
After making the costliest film in Malayalam, we are planning to make a low-budget film. Bobby and Sanjay are ready with the storyline and we have recently bought a camera to shoot it in the digital format. Now, that should be real fun!