JAYA NARAYAN PISHAROTY

Jairaj’s ‘Loudspeaker’ is a take on the shallow pretensions and hollow complexities of urban living.

I was struck by an unlikely friendship and it stayed in my mind as the seed for a story.

Mammootty serves tea to a tie-clad family counsellor. The latter is busy measuring the dimensions of a room; assisting him in this task is a slightly confused grandmother. “Are these measurements really important in the treatment and counselling of my granddaughter,” she asks in a helpless tone. “After all she is only a naughty four-year-old?”

The counsellor is unmoved, he questions his ‘subject’ about her ‘abnormal behaviour,’ which is her tendency to play and occasionally disobey her elders! KPAC Lalitha (exasperated grandmother), Nayantara (naughty child) and Suraj Venjarumoodu (family counsellor) enact the scene with consummate ease on the sets of Jairaj’s film ‘Loudspeaker.’

Taking a dig

Jairaj seems to be taking a dig at the modern predilection to seek ‘professional help’ in dealing with the most mundane problems of life. Into this contrived and put-on world, Mike Peelippose (Mammootty) barges in, unannounced and unabashed, with his booming, stentorian voice. The Mammootty-starrer, ‘Loudspeaker,’ slated for release after Onam, tells the story of a real life character ‘Mike’ Gopalan from Idukki. Jairaj recalls a scene he came across many years ago in Chennai. “I was struck by an unlikely friendship between a rustic farmer and a city-bred sophisticate and it stayed in my mind as the seed for a story,” says the director who is also the scenarist and script writer of the film.

Despite all the outward differences between them, they share a deep bond of friendship. He has coalesced the character of Gopalan with that of the rustic he saw years ago and created Mike Peelippose, a plain-speaking, farmer from Thoprankudy. Peelippose is genuine to a fault and that is the main point the film makes; how genuineness is a rare commodity in today’s world and what effect it has on people. Peelippose comes into contact with a group of residents in an apartment complex where one of the children christens him ‘loudspeaker.’ Here the building becomes a microcosm of the world with many types of human beings adding colour and texture to the story.

Peelippose is like a road-roller, he lumbers on imperiously, blissfully unaware of the obstacles he flattens, which would have deterred the progress of someone a shade less confident and positive. What makes his character lovable and not preachy is the fact that he is unconscious of the devastating effect he has on people around him especially on their artificiality and superficial exterior. He reaches out to the real person and in this way, is a positive influence on Anand Menon, a sophisticated Valluvanadan whom he befriends.

Anand Menon, played by mediaperson and filmmaker Shasi Kumar is in litigation with his family members over property. Under the humanising influence of Peelippose, Menon sees reason and reforms. Peelippose also exposes, albeit unwittingly, the shallow pretensions and hollow complexities of urban living.

Mammootty’s appearance and his style of speaking are in keeping with his unusual character. Gracy Singh of ‘Lagaan’ fame plays a nurse who too undergoes the ‘Peelippose Effect.’

Music is by Bijipal and one of the highlights is a re-run of the old favourite, ‘Alliyambal.’ ‘Loudspeaker’ totally dispenses with voice dubbing. All the dialogues are recorded during the shoot. Award-winning sound engineer Harikumar says: “This is not a new-fangled gimmick, it is the oldest style. All it requires is complete discipline and minute detailing on the set.”

Obviously, this means that the actors have to memorise the dialogues and deliver them in continuous and meaningful units. All the actors have taken up the challenge sportingly. The veterans are reportedly enjoying the nostalgia associated with it, from the days when prompting was unheard of. Both Jairaj and Harikumar are positive that the live dialogue delivery will both support and embellish the performance of the actors. Sabitha Jairaj assists her husband in direction.