Director T.K. Rajeev Kumar's ‘Rathinirvedam,' an adaptation of the 1978 classic of the same name, has Swetha Menon and Sreejith in the lead roles.
‘Rathinirvedam' (1978) is a cult classic in Malayalam cinema; a coming-of-age story of sexual awakening where a young man (played by Krishnachandran) falls for an older woman (played by Jayabharathi).
Director T.K. Rajeev Kumar is remaking this classic that was written by the late P. Padmarajan and directed by the late Bharathan. The shooting of the remake is going on at Pallipad near Haripad, Alappuzha district.
“The basic story of the new version is the same as the original. But here it is being shot in a new perspective that caters to modern audiences. We are not recreating the scenes of the original, one by one. The narrative is more subtle than the previous version and focusses more on the relationship rather than on explicit scenes,” says Rajeev.
Swetha Menon plays the role of Rathi, made famous in the original by Jayabharathi. Sreejith, who made his entry into films with Fazil's soon-to-be-released ‘Living Together,' dons the role of the youngster, Pappu, who falls in love with Rathi.
“Initially, I was reluctant to take on the film as it was the work of two legends, Bharathan and Padmarajan. But the story is always relevant. New situations have been added but the period when the story happened remains the same as the earlier version. How it syncs with the attitude of today's generation is its surprise element,” says the director.
The scene that is being shot has the svelte Swetha, dressed in a half-sari (‘davani-pavada'), trying to control a fidgety calf. Cinematographer Manoj Pillai, who has mounted the camera on a crane, explains that he is shooting the scene from Sreejith's point of view.
The camera first focusses on Sreejith, who is sitting on the ground nearby, and then pans to capture Swetha's tussle with the calf. A huge crowd has gathered to watch the proceedings.
After the shot has been canned, Swetha is all set to take a break under the shade of a tree when some girls approach her to click photos with her. She obliges them before talking about her role in the movie.
“I feel lucky to have played such a wide variety of roles. For this particular role, I have not seen the original nor have I done much homework. It was a deliberate choice as the director decided that the mannerisms and the body language of the character should suit the environment of the plains as opposed to the hill ranges where the previous film is set.”
She adds: “Every boy goes through adolescent love and I believe it is one of the purest forms of emotion. Of course, there is a thin line that separates adolescent love and lust.”
‘Rathinirvedam,' produced under the banner of Revathy Kalamandir, will hit screens in April.
K.P.A.C. Lalitha is the only member of the cast who was also part of the original film. Lyrics by Murukan Kattakkada have been composed by M. Jayachandran, who scores a century as a music director. Still photographer is Hari Thirumala.
The new Pappu
Sreejith, who plays Pappu in ‘Rathinirvedam,' is an engineering graduate who hails from Thripunithura. “My role is rather bold and my parents were initially not too happy about it. But I was always sure about it for an actor should be ready to experiment with all kinds of roles.” Before his entry into films, Sreejith was into modelling. Director Fazil happened to see Sreejith's portfolio and cast him as Niranjan, the hero in ‘Living Together,' which will be released shortly. Says Sreejith: “I saw the original ‘Rathinirvedam' after being selected for the role and it is one story, I feel, that any teenage boy can relate to. In the film I play a youngster who comes to a village for his vacation after his Plus Two examination. He meets Rathi and is attracted to her,” says Sreejith. Adds Rajeev Kumar: “Pappu's character has an innate innocence and this is one role that needs lots of ‘silent reaction'– one which requires a wealth of facial expression rather than dialogues. Sreejith fitted the bill perfectly and that is how he got selected.”