Lal Jose says his latest film, Ayalum Njanum Thammil, is all about the evolution of a medical graduate into a doctor

Lal Jose is a film director who has never been burdened by success or expectations. He says he prefers following his intuition to reports on trends or reviews. Over the years, his intuition, so far, has stood him in good stead but for a blip here or there. Now, even before the glittering success of Diamond Necklace has lost its sheen, the director is wooing cinema audiences in Kerala with another story of a medical practitioner.

“It is a coincidence that both my recent films, Diamond Necklace and Ayalum Njanum Thammil, revolve around doctors. But Diamond Necklace is about the emotional maze that a young oncologist named Vinod finds himself in, while Ayalum Njanum Thammil is about the evolution of Ravi Tharakan (Prithviraj) into a good doctor, a healer,” says Lal Jose.

Although Ayalum Njanum Thammil was planned two years ago, its filming had to wait because of Prithviraj’s busy schedule. Scriptwriters Bobby, incidentally a doctor himself, and Sanjay had narrated the story to Prithviraj who suggested Lal’s name to helm the film.

“I had no films at all in 2011 and now, suddenly, this year, I have three films! I had some time on my hands before Ayalum Njanum Thammil went on the floor and that is when Diamond Necklace happened. I could not even savour the success of the film as I was neck deep in the shooting of Ayalum Njanum Thammil,” says Lal.

Capturing the gist of his latest film, Lal says: “Merely securing an MBBS degree does not make you a doctor. It is experiences and empathy that turn a medical graduate into a doctor in every sense of the word. Bobby is a perfectionist and he was on location to ensure that we get the medical terms and procedures right. Dr. Tharakan is an irresponsible doctor who finds a mentor in Dr. Samuel, Pratap Pothen’s character, and gradually he understands what it means to be a health practitioner.”

Lal admits that he had always yearned to work with Pratap, an actor the filmmaker had admired since his college days when the actor hit the limelight with films such as Thakara and Chamaram. The senior actor and director made a powerful comeback with a strong negative role in 22 Female Kottayam. “But the Pratap we see in my film is far removed from all that. He is a friendly, sweet doctor who becomes a role model for Ravi Tharakan.”

Prithviraj plays the lead in his third film with Lal and the filmmaker has only words of praise for his lead actor. He says the movie is more like a biography of Ravi Tharakan and all the other characters are people who touch his life in one way or the other. The title Ayalum Njanum Thammil (which roughly translates as ‘between both of us’) is all about that – Ravi Tharakan’s relationship with the other characters in the film. Narain and Prithviraj are working together after their outing in Classmates and Robinhood. Narain acts as Tharakan’s classmate while Samvrutha Sunil, in the role of Sainu, is a college mate who has a soft corner for Tharakan. With this film Samvrutha completes her innings in Mollywood as she plans to take a break after her marriage. Incidentally, it was in a Lal Jose film (Rasikan) that the actor had made her debut in tinsel town. For the first time, Lal, who had formed a successful duo with composer Vidyasagar, works with music composer Ouseppachan. “He is one of the best in the industry and I had always hoped that someday I would be able to work with him,” says Lal as he completes his trio of movies this year.

Play it again

Lal Jose is a filmmaker who gives each of his films a great deal of care and attention. He does not stop with the film’s direction. Instead, he promotes every film of his diligently. For instance, by the time a film of his gets ready for release, Lal would have changed the caller tune of his mobile phone. During the days of Elsamma Enna Aankutty, callers would be greeted with the sonorous song ‘Ithile thozhi…’

The caller tune keeps changing with each film that Lal is working on. Until recently it was the foot-tapping ‘Nilamalare’ of Diamond Necklace. Now, callers are greeted with the song ‘Azhalinte azhangalil’, sung by Nikhil Mathew in Ayalum Njanum Thammil.