Director Suresh Unnithan’s comeback movie Ayaal explores various shades of love against the backdrop of faith and convention.

After a gap of over a decade, filmmaker Suresh Unnithan is back in Mollywood with Ayaal. Suresh, who debuted in Malayalam cinema with the memorable Jathakam in 1989, which won him the State film award for the best debut director, went on to make notable films such as Radhamadhavam, Sathyapratinja, Mukhachithram, Utsavamelam and the like before venturing into the mini-screen.

“I withdrew from the scene when it became difficult to compromise with the dictums of the industry. My last few films such as Thovalapookkal and Rishyasringan didn’t do well ThovalapookkalRishyasringan and I found it difficult to find producers. And once offers started coming in, I was not ready to take the plunge. But the subject of Ayaal impressed me so much that I decided to make it,” says Suresh, who has been keeping himself busy all this while, directing serials for almost all the leading channels, the most popular one being Swami Ayyappan.

Set in the Kuttanad of mid-50s, Ayaal is about Gurudasan (Lal), a Pulluvan. “People believe that there is some divinity in him. Therefore, they overlook his bigamy,” says the director. Gurudasan has two wives, Janaki (Lakshmi Sharma) and her sister, Chakkara (Iniya). He has a son with Chakkara, Ananthan (Master Dhananjay). One day he is called to the village officer, Pravarthiyar Thirumeni’s house to sing Pulluvan pattu and appease the snake gods, in the belief that in doing so the Thirumeni and his wife, Devaki Antharjanam (Lena), may be blessed with children. But Gurudasan gets involved with Devaki, which eventually pulls his life apart.

“It is a story of human relationships caught in the conventional fabric of morality and belief. Serpent worship and rituals related to it form the backdrop, so too the political fabric of the period. A lot of research has gone into the work with the help of experts in the field such as Padmana Aravindakshan and Budhanoor Gopi. We’ve shot a ‘sarppam thullal’ as well,” says Suresh.

“The film treats various shades of love and as such sensual scenes are integral to the plot. Padmarajan and Bharathan have presented similar scenes artistically, I have also given the same treatment,” adds Suresh, who entered the film industry assisting Padmarajan. Suresh’s son Abhimanyu (who earlier directed Yakshi, Faithfully Yours) is an associate director of the movie.

A highlight in Ayaal is the presence of two civil servants – K.Ampady, who has written the story, screenplay and dialogues, and V.Venu, who plays Pravarthiyar Thirumeni. Kalashala Babu and Sukumari are also part of the cast. Music is by Mohan Sithara, R. Somasekharan and M.G. Anil. Sujith Vasudev is the cameraman. The movie is produced by Madhusoodanan Mavelikara (Seashell Movies) and M.T. Dileepkumar (Elements Vision).