Veteran film director Sibi Malayil says his ‘Apoorva Ragam' charts a path that has not been explored in Malayalam cinema.
Despite the occasional hiccups, veteran film director Sibi Malayil has invariably struck the right note to reach out to viewers in Kerala. This time, he is trying to tune in to a new generation of viewers who have grown up on a steady diet of racy films from Hollywood, Bollywood and Kollywood and dubbed offerings from Tollywood. His latest movie, ‘Apoorva Ragam,' is a slickly made campus-based story that does not narrate a mushy love story or a sepia-tinted tale of friendship.
As the film hurtles through paths, strange and new, it takes us through the lives of three protagonists, Roopesh, Tommy and Nancy (played by Nishan, Asif Ali and Nithya Menon) who find that life cannot always be viewed through rosy-tinted spectacles. Friends turn into foes and situations force people to change colour even faster than the proverbial chameleon. In his 25th year as a filmmaker, Sibi has attempted to break the mould and opt for a different style of filmmaking that comes as a surprise for viewers who are used to his craft that gave us gems such as ‘Thaniavarthanam,' ‘Ezhuthapurangal,' ‘Kireedam,' ‘Bharatham,' ‘His Highness Abdullah,' ‘Kamaladalam' and so on.
Excerpts from an interview with the director.
What is special about ‘Apoorva Ragam?'
‘Aporva Ragam' is a story of three friends who find that reality is not always in tune with your expectations. One wrong note can make the entire composition go awry and so is the case with life too. It is a tale that could happen or may have happened to someone we know. The freshness of the subject and the characters caught my attention when new script writers G.S. Anand and Najeem Koya narrated the story to me.
You are known for making films that tug at the heartstrings of viewers. What is that drew you to this racy story that is plotted like a maze?
I have children who are the same age as my protagonists and so I can empathise with the concern of parents who are finding it hard to keep track of their children in the midst of an information overload. Youngsters interact and spend most of their time with a peer group that their parents may not be familiar with. One wrong decision may find the youngster heading for disaster. Even the best of parents and homes may find it difficult to tackle the aftermath of that wrong decision made in haste.
So you think films should have a message?
I would like my films to linger on in the minds of viewers. Somehow making a film to raise a few laughs does not appeal to me. I want them to think about my film; the characters must strike a chord with the viewers.
You have several hits to your credit when you worked with the super stars of Malayalam cinema. Then why did you choose a cast full of newcomers?
This was a theme that demanded such a cast. I wanted actors that the viewers could not identify as a hero or a villain. I am happy that all three lead actors have done a splendid job. Although Nishan does not know Malayalam, he worked twice as hard as the others to ensure that his dialogue delivery did not look artificial. These are actors who are here to stay in the industry.
The narrative style of the film is also very different from your other films.
Right from my first film, ‘Mutharamkunnu P.O.,' I have always adopted a style of filmmaking that suits the theme and the story. This film targets families and youngsters and since both inhabit the fast lane of life, the narration had to keep pace with their frenetic lives and also the mood of the story. Cinematographer Ajayan Vincent's frames enhance the narration and the story.
Would you rate this film among the best five of your works?
No. This movie is a landmark in my filmography. It is an attempt to see what are the changes required to revive the Malayalam film industry and attract viewers to theatres. I think we have to think of innovative scripts that tackle contemporary topics and fresh methods of narration to make films click at the box office. I see ‘Apoorva Ragam' as a beginning.