‘The Kung Fu Master’ is a musical action drama set in the Himalayas, says Abrid Shine

The Malayalam director talks about the inspiration for the film, his previous works and more

Published - January 23, 2020 01:00 pm IST - Thiruvananthapuram

Neeta Pillai in a scene from ‘The Kung Fu Master’

Neeta Pillai in a scene from ‘The Kung Fu Master’

After 16 years as a photographer, Abrid Shine made his foray into movies as a filmmaker with 1983 (2014). He won the Kerala State Film award for the best debut director for the movie, which narrated the story of a cricket fan’s love for the game even when he himself could not make it big as a cricketer. Action Hero Biju (2016) and Poomaram (2018) followed. He is now ready with The Kung Fu Master , a martial arts drama that releases today. If Abrid’s earlier movies were inspired by real life, The Kung Fu Master has been inspired by the movies he has watched over the years. Edited excerpts from an interview:

How did The Kung Fu Master happen?

We were planning to add Taekwondo fight scenes in Action Hero Biju but it did not materialise. When I heard about Wing Chun, a Chinese Kung Fu martial art style that values speed, I was fascinated. Wing Chun was conceptualised by a woman called Ng Mui and it was practised by legends such as Bruce Lee. Neeta Pillai (who played the female lead in Poomaram ) was enthused about training in Wing Chun. She started off by practising Wushu, a rhythmic martial art form.

Abrid Shine

Abrid Shine

What is The Kung Fu Master about?

It is a musical action drama set in the Himalayas. Neeta and Jiji Scaria play siblings Ritu and Rishi respectively. Jiji is a qualified Wing Chun practitioner. They are pitted against a criminal gang, also trained in martial arts.

Conventional action movies in Malayalam are essentially about the tussle between the hero and the villain. How different is The Kung Fu Master ?

(Laughs) It is on the same lines, except in this film, the female and the male lead take on the villain together. The Kung Fu Master is a mix of action sequences, sound effects and music, which should make it an interesting theatrical experience. Besides Wing Chun, there are other martial art forms such as karate, kalaripayattu and taekwondo.

Malayalis are generally particular about a credible storyline...

Even while working on my earlier films, I was warned that the movies did not follow conventional narrative patterns. Nevertheless, it was well received by viewers. As a filmmaker, my attempt has always been to offer something new for the audience.

The Kung Fu Master has an interesting storyline. However, I have intentionally given a gist of the story in the title.

When the trend is in favour of realistic tales, what made you come up with an action drama?

Although I have never deliberately set out to make realistic movies, my previous movies were in that genre. The Kung Fu Master had to be treated differently. It had to be a pure martial arts film.

What was the shooting of the film like?

The process was difficult yet interesting. The fight sequences had to look convincing, especially when the heroine was up against trained men. The action choreography went on for almost 10 months. Shooting the stunts in the snow-filled terrain was not easy. Our idea was to present a film with a different visual experience, good music and a story that connected emotionally.

Are viewers willing to accept movies without big stars if the content is interesting?

I feel such films have always been there in Malayalam, right from Manjil Virinja Pookkal in the 1980s to Angamaly Diaries in recent times.

As a filmmaker, you seem to mix offbeat themes with commercial elements. Is that your concept of filmmaking?

I don’t have a definite explanation for this. The climax of 1983 and Poomaram were almost poetic, unlike formulaic endings. I would say several influences, including my stint as a photographer, have shaped my thoughts.

Both 1983 and Poomaram didn’t celebrate heroism...

I actually love heroism. One of my all-time favourite movies is Sphadikam, which is all about the ‘hero’. Though 1983 was inspired by my fascination for cricket, the agony the lead character goes through because of his not reaching anywhere in life despite his skills as a cricketer, was created to make the storyline more hard-hitting.

As a filmmaker, you are known to be a stickler for perfection.

I aim to give my best in each of my films. I am aware that those who come to watch my movies have seen more movies than I have. That thought always make me try to better myself.

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