‘Koottukar’ has a bunch of youngsters narrating a story of a friendship that turns sour.
The ambience is serene. The weather, just perfect. The number of onlookers that could cause a problem or two while shooting – none. Little wonder then, the scenes of ‘Koottukar' scheduled for the day on a location near the Varakkal Temple at West Hill in Kozhikode are wrapped up in no time.
Vinu Mohan, Saiju Kurup and Anoop Chandran feature in the first of the scenes. They play three friends and the scene being filmed shows an incident from their college days.
Vinu and Saiju, dressed in a dhothi and shirt, blend in perfectly with the rural backdrop – huge trees, a narrow path and a vast temple pond in the vicinity. And the late-afternoon sun provides just the perfect light – with a tinge of golden hue, much to the delight of cinematographer C.M. Muthu.
Vinu, Saiju and the clean-shaven Anoop, who is dressed as a priest, listen attentively to director Prasad Valacheril as he explains the scene to them. The three young actors rehearse their dialogues and they also make a few suggestions to add some spontaneity to the scene.
The rehearsal doesn't take much time. Neither does the actual shooting. The scene has the trio walking along and discussing ways to woo a girl at their college. The plan is to make the priest deliver the letter to the girl. “How can I, a priest, do this?” he protests, but his friends do not listen.
“Cut,” announces Prasad and the crew and the cast move on to the next scene, to be filmed a few yards away.
There is certainly an urgency with which things are moving at the set of ‘Koottukar.' Which isn't surprising really, for this is a low-budget film.
There is very little delay between the shoots, and the director and the actors seem to have done their homework well.
Story about friendship
“The scene that we canned now is from the trio's student days. The film is about the friendship of four classmates – Bhama is the other – and how they part ways and meet again 10 years later,” says Prasad.
When the friends meet again, much water has flown under the bridge and two of them have become enemies. Ravi Krishnan (Vinu) has become a criminal, while Antony (Saiju) is a cop pursuing him.
Vinu is delighted he is playing a full-fledged hero: he gets to sing, emote and do a lot of fights. “This is the first time I am playing an action hero. Revenge is the main theme of the movie,” says the young actor, who debuted in Lohithadas' ‘Nivedyam.' His heroine in that film, Bhama, is paired with him in ‘Koottukar.' It is for the first time they have been cast opposite each other since ‘Nivedyam.'
“Yes, it's a bit surprising that nobody thought of casting us a pair after we were widely accepted by the audience. We were in ‘Cycle,' but not cast opposite each other. It is nice working with Bhama once again,” says Vinu.
His co-star Saiju feels ‘Koottukar' would be a good break for him. “The film offers plenty of opportunities for Vinu to shine as a hero. My role is also a pretty strong one and the conflicts between the two of us form a vital point in the plot,” says Saiju.
Also in the cast is Shankar, who plays an underworld don. “It is an important character and one of my better roles in recent times. I just hope small films like this do well, for the sake of Malayalam cinema. The film would break even if it runs for a couple of weeks in theatres. All of us have worked hard on this film, shooting for long hours every day. We would be finishing the film with about 20 days' shoot. The director should be given credit for that,” he says.
Suraj Venjaramoodu, Mamukoya and Kalasala Babu are the other actors in the film. Lyrics by Bichu Thirumala have been tuned by S.P. Venkatesh. Stills are by M.K. Mohanan
‘Koottukar' is produced by Annamma Poulose Pandikad under the banner of Paul Co Films.