It is not easy to make people laugh. Therefore making a comedy programme is not a cakewalk; something that R.Unnikrishnan knew very well when he took up the challenge of directing churning out two comedies for Mazhavil Manorama– ‘Thatteem Mutteem’, telecast at 9.30 p.m. on Fridays, and ‘Marimayam’, aired at 8 p.m. on Sundays. A State-award winner (for the second best tele serial), he started off as an assistant to filmmaker Syamaprasad. He is my guru, says Unnikrishnan, before he talks about his shows. Excerpts…

‘Marimayam’

We all come in contact with various institutions, offices and establishments at some point or the other in our daily life. This includes government offices, schools, police stations, hotels, courts, hospitals, banks and the like. And these encounters are not always pleasant or easy. You might have to grease some one’s palms or get duped by by middlemen or never get your work done on time. Such experiences and situations are presented in a humorous vein in ‘Marimayam’. The idea is to hold a mirror to society. Along with the entertainment quotient, we focus on the informative aspect as well. We’ve featured real-life experiences as well. For example, once I had to visit a hospital for a gastric problem. The diagnosis became so complicated that I was kept in the ICU for observation, scaring me and my family. But the next day when they discharged me, all that they gave was a tonic for gastric trouble!

Cast and crew

Except for a handful of people, the crew members keep changing.

In fact, we’ve different scriptwriters each time. Manikandan Pattambi, Niyas Bakker, Vinod Kovoor, Sreekumar and Rachana are the permanent actors in the cast.

‘Thatteem Mutteem’

Yes, it follows the much-acclaimed ‘Tu Tu Main Main’ series, which captured the love-hate relationship between a mother-in-law and a daughter-in-law.

An attraction in ‘Thatteem Mutteem’ is the two children, who lose no opportunity in instigating a fight between the two women. Script is by Gireesh Gramika.

A stellar cast

KPAC Lalitha and Manju Pillai are perfect for the roles. In the case of Lalitha chechi, no other artiste can portray all the emotions needed for the role better than her. She has a soft side to her, but at the same time, she outwits her daughter-in-law and is always ready to pick up a fight with her. What I find special about Lalitha chechi is that the script is just a prop for her. She improvises and contributes towards each scene and I often think she can make a good director. Regarding Manju, she is the best foil for Lalitha chechi. She rises to the occasion in each scene. It is quite sad that our industry has not tapped her potential as an actor. Jayakumar, better known as Payyans in the industry, plays Manju’s husband. Siddharth and Bhagyalakshmy are cast as their kids.

No dubbing

What is special about these shows is that we do spot recording of dialogues. This is to make everything look and sound natural. The artistes behave as in real situations.

Initially it was difficult for them, especially for Lalitha chechi and Manju. Now they enjoy doing it and the shoot is hilarious since they come up with their own dialogues and improvisations in each scene. This would have never happened if we had gone in for dubbing.

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Reel realityJanuary 31, 2013