Philips And The Monkey Pen, directed by Rojin Thomas and Shanil Muhammed, tells the tale of young Ryan Philip’s magical adventures with his enchanted pen.
“If featuring a child in the lead makes Philips And The Monkey Pen, a children’s film, then it can be called so. But the film is not just for kids, but for everyone who is a kid at heart,” say director-duo Rojin Thomas and Shanil Muhammed, about their debut venture.
Philips And The Monkey Pen is the story of Ryan Philip (Sanoop). He is the son of Roy (Jayasurya) and Sameera (Remya Nambeeshan). The two, who married young, follow two religions. The story unfolds during Ryan’s year in class five, when he finds the going tough with his Mathematics homework. He has his own reasons as to why it is so and to hide it, Ryan acts naughty in school and also at home. It is then that he comes across an enchanted pen, the ‘Monkey Pen’. From then on the story takes an interesting turn with some fantasy elements added to the narrative.
“There are more than 50 children in the film, all with no real experience in acting. We organised a 10-day workshop before the shooting started. The shoot itself was pretty strenuous but was quite enjoyable. Sanoop was a revelation as an actor. He is so natural,” say the directors. Both of them have previously made short films.
The duo say that they had approached several other actors to portray Ryan’s father. “But most of them were not too keen as the story is essentially about a child. Jayasurya, though, readily agreed and was supportive all along.”
Jayasurya explains: “In Malayalam we rarely make films that are entirely focussed on children and that is one of the reasons why I wanted to be part of this one. I became so close to Sanoop that I felt like he was my own son. He is a livewire and watching him act with confidence was a sheer delight.”
The film was originally planned for release two weeks ago, but had to be postponed due to some high profile Bollywood and Kollywood releases.
“I find this hard to digest that in Kerala we tend to sideline our own films, giving preference to films from other languages. The situation is different everywhere else, where native films get a preference over other language films,” says actor Sandra Thomas, who, along with actor Vijay Babu, has produced the film under the banner of Friday Film House.
She reels off a number of interesting tidbits about the film: “Sanoop is actor Sanusha’s younger brother and its music director, Rahul Subramanian, is actor Remya Nambeeshan’s brother. Remya has incidentally sung a song in the film. Director Boban Samuel’s son and actor-director Joy Mathew and his son are also part of the cast. It is also veteran actor Innocent’s first film, after he recovered from his illness.”
Neil D’ Cunha has cranked the camera.
Philips And The Monkey Pen reached theatres on Thursday.