Director Premlal talks about his second outing at the box office with Outsider, which releases this week

Director Premlal made an impressive debut with the soulful Athmakatha, which narrated the tale of a visually-challenged father's struggle to make his daughter accept the stark reality that she was gradually losing her sight. The film was a critical success but failed to cause waves at the box office. Premlal is ready for the marquee once again with his new film Outsider, which reaches theatres this week. Sreenivasan, Indrajith, Pasupathi, and Ganga Babu play the lead roles in the film. Premlal talks about the making of Outsider. Excerpts

What is the concept behind Outsider?

Unprovoked attacks causing grievous injury to passersby are becoming a common phenomenon in Kerala, as a recent spate of such real-life incidents have shown. People get provoked easily and even small incidents can trigger a physical attack.

Perhaps it is because we are conditioned to be suspicious of strangers. Moreover, many a time, these kind of individuals and groups of people who go on the rampage might be protected by the top brass or have links to criminal outfits or even political parties. In my film, an ‘outsider' with a criminal mindset clashes with a boat-driver named Sivankutty (played by Sreenivasan), under certain unprecedented circumstances. How an ordinary individual like Sivankutty, who has no extraordinary skills or heroics to speak of, handles the situation forms the base of the story. In our scheme of things, a villain may not be an issue at all for a superstar but it becomes more than what he can handle for a normal human being without any heroic traits, like the character played by Sreenivasan. Outsider belongs to the ‘emotional action thriller' genre. The narrative is faster than Athmakatha.

Who is the ‘outsider' in this film?

That's the suspense! Actually, several characters in the film can be ‘outsiders' if you look from different perspectives. If a certain character comes across as an outsider at some point of the time, he/she is very much an ‘insider' from a different perspective. There may also be instances when we ourselves become outsiders in our own lives, and that happens when someone else controls our lives.

Who are the main characters in the film?

Apart from Sivankutty, who lives in a remote village, there is Mukundan (Indrajith), a drunkard and a troublemaker whom he hates. But at a certain juncture, his feelings change and that is the turning point in the story. How that change takes place and why it happens is the crux of the film. Tamil actor Pasupathi dons the role of Lawrence, a character with grey shades. Pasupathi hasn't done a negative role in the past seven years, in any language.

Although Athmakatha was critically appreciated, it didn't become a commercial success…

There are several aspects that make a film run at the box office, and one of the most important, is perhaps, marketing. Admittedly, ‘Athmakatha' was not marketed well. In fact, it was only after the film was released on video, that I got a positive feedback from viewers.

The film is being remade into a few other languages now.

How was it working with Sreenivasan in both your films?

Sreenivasan has carved out a niche for himself in Malayalam cinema that goes beyond glamour and heroism, perhaps in a way Bharath Gopi did some years ago. He has been a great pillar of support and there is a mutual respect between us, which gives me tremendous energy.

What are your future projects?

Discussions are going on about the possibility of remaking Outsider in other languages, and I have a few more projects of varying themes in the pipeline.