Techie and scriptwriter Ajayan Venugopalan is on a high. Two of his movies, Peruchazhi and Ividey, both set in the United States, which is his home turf now, go on the floors
“I have bunked classes for his movies. I have biked miles to see him person. Now he stands next to me, enacting the lines that I have written! Feeling surreal and blessed to be part of Peruchazhi!”
So posted scriptwriter and techie Ajayan Venugopalan on his Facebook page, while at the location of Mohanlal-starrer Peruchazhi.
“I am a big fan of Lal ettan, who plays the role of Viswanathan in the film. It took me few days to shake off the nervousness of being around him on the set. But Lal ettan is very casual on the set and he makes everybody comfortable. I also witnessed the dedication he has for the art form, he exudes the same enthusiasm and energy as if it is his first film,” gushes Ajayan.
Peruchazhi is a political satire and is being directed by Arun Vaidyananthan of Achchamundu!, Achchamundu!-fame who, incidentally, is also a techie and who, like Ajayan, lives and works in New Jersey in the United States (U.S.). As the cast and crew of Peruchazhi now get ready to wing their way across the seas to New Jersey, “his home turf”, where a major chunk of the movie is set, Ajayan can’t hold back his excitement. Well, double the excitement, really, as his next film Ividay, to be directed by Shyamaprasad, and starring Young Turks Fahadh Faasil and Prithviraj, will also go on the floors soon.
“I’m not kidding. It’s quite surreal to be scriptwriter Ajayan Venugopalan at the moment. I feel thrilled and blessed to be part of these exciting projects,” says Ajayan (you can almost see his no-holds-barred, toothy grin at the other end of the email!).
“Peruchazhi was conceived by Arun, whom I have known from many years. The script was originally written in Tamil and when Mohanlal sir got onboard, Arun wanted me to help him translate it into Malayalam. I help mould the script to a Malayali context and co-wrote dialogues for the film,” says the 38-year-old, who hails from Palakkad.
He’s been living and working in the U.S. for nigh on 12 years now. A film buff, Ajayan more or less eased into Mollywood by way of Akkarakazhchakal, a popular YouTube sitcom on the lives of Malayali expatriates in the United States, which he wrote and co-directed. Then last year he debuted as a scriptwriter in Mollywood with Shyamaprasad’s English, a dark tale of Malayalis living in London.
Peruchazhi is his second project. “It’s inspired by real life political stunts that happen in India in the name of democracy. It’s a spoof-cum-satirical take on what happens when an Indian politician gets to lead a Gubernational election in the U.S. [where the Americans elect governors of states],” says Ajayan. “The difference between the world’s two largest democracies, India and the United States, inspired Arun to make Peruchazhi. We have tried to compare the electoral-political process in a comical way in this film. The characters are larger than life in the film. Peruchazhi is also a tribute to Mohanlal sir, with many references to his previous hit films. It will be a treat for Mohanlal fans and people who have grown up watching his films,” says Ajayan.
Meanwhile Ividey is a crime drama, set entirely in the corporate world in the U.S. and revolving around an IT outsourcing company and its employees.
“I am elated that the Shyam sir has bestowed his trust on me to tell this story. He is a kind of director who goes in to the heart of his characters and pushes you to delve deeper into them. I have a great working relationship with him and I am really excited about working closely with him and learning from him during the shoot. Shyam sir likes stories which have strong characters in it and this time it will be an inter-personal drama set in the context of couple of crimes that happen in the IT community. But I feel it would be different from the other Shyam sir’s movies in terms of the genre and the presentation.
“We have assembled a great international crew for the film and we hope the films would serve pan-Indian sensibilities. Plus it’s an icing on the cake that Prithvi and Fahadh liked the script and will be playing the two leads. They both are the most talented actors we have around and I can’t wait to see my characters to be transformed through them,” he explains.
So, now that he’s firmly entrenched in Mollywood, is he finally giving up IT or is he determined to continue with the “balancing act”? “That’s a million-dollar question. There are few other offers in the pipeline, so I wonder how long I will be able to do the balancing act. The plunge looks inevitable.”