Shyamaprasad wins his third National award for ‘Ore Kadal,’ the best film in Malayalam.

“It is the 48th award for ‘Ore Kadal,’” says Shyamaprasad about his film that has won the National award for the best regional film (Malayalam). He had won the same award for two of his previous films – ‘Agnisakshi’ and ‘Akale.’ All three are adaptations of famous works. ‘Agnisakshi’ was based on Lalithambika Antharjanam’s novel of the same name and ‘Akale,’ an adaptation of Tennesse William’s play ‘The Glass Menagerie.’ ‘Ore Kadal,’ based on a novel in Bengali by Sunil Gangopadhyay, has been making waves ever since it reached the silver screen. This film has also bagged the National award for music for music director Ouseppachan. The latest award for ‘Ore Kadal’ merely reinforces the fact that the filmmaker is one of the most happening directors in Malayalam. Each of his films, including the latest, ‘Ritu,’ which is still running in theatres in Kerala, showcases his versatility and mastery over the medium. None of the films has a common thematic thread or similar star cast.

An evolution

“It has been an evolution that has seen me grow as a director and as a filmmaker,” says Shyamaprasad. He adds that although he was disappointed when his film was passed over by the State film awards jury last year, he has no complaints “as awards are elusive and each jury differs and these things happen. However, I did feel bad for Ouseppachan when he did not win an award for his work then. His songs and background score were exceptional and conveyed the story so well. It was an organic part of the film. It was his spontaneity that impressed me.”

Like all good captains, Shyamaprasad says he owes the award to his team who turned his idea into reality. “It is a collaboration with each member giving their best,” he says. But the fact remains that his works also brought out the best in his actors and crew. ‘Agnisakshi’ swept the Kerala State film awards in 1999 (wining accolades for its technicians and the best actor award for Rajat Kapoor and the best supporting actress award for Praveena) while ‘Akale’ bagged six Kerala State film awards in 2004 (again garnering awards for the actors and the crew). Geethu Mohandas won the Kerala State film award for the best actress and veteran Sheela won the State award for the best supporting actress and also got her first National award for her sterling work in ‘Akale.’

With these kind of credentials to back him up, he must have many in the industry waiting to work in his films. However Shyamaprasad downplays it saying it is always the characters who decide the cast and not the other way around. “Depending on the theme and its treatment, I choose a team that I feel can best narrate the story. For instance, in ‘Akale’ I have used Sheela’s style of acting and idiosyncrasies to sketch the character. Similarly, for ‘Ritu’ I wanted a fresh bunch of actors and so I decided to work with debutants. I have never been moved by star status,” he says.

‘Off-season’

His short film for Ranjith’s Portmanteau movie ‘Kerala Café’ seems to vouch for this. After working with thespians like Rajat Kapoor and Mammootty, superstar-in-the-making Prithviraj and debutant Nishan, Shyamaprasad’s hero in the short film ‘Off-season’ is comedian Suraj Venjaramoodu. Scripted by Joshua Newtonn and filmed by the director’s favourite cinematographer, Alagappan, the film tells the bitter-sweet tale of a day in the life of Kunjappai, a 30-year-old surf-board renter at Kovalam.

“It is anchored on the recession and how ripples of the global slump hit even places and people on the sidelines of life. It shows the universal truth that hardship knows no race or nationality,” explains Shyamaprasad.

And now the director plans to write his first script for a film that has Nayanthara in the lead. Based on the Electra Complex, the film, titled ‘Electra,’ will go on the floor in December. “As a student of theatre, I am familiar with the Greek myths and with the work of Eugene O’Neill’s play ‘Mourning becomes Electra.’ Since I feel confident about the subject, I plan to write the script myself,” says Shyamaprasad. Going by his record, another winner could be in the making.