We have to compete using ideas: filmmaker Sathyan Anthikad

The ace director opens up on teaming up with Sreenivasan again for Fahadh Fasil-starrer Njan Prakashan

Updated - December 19, 2018 05:21 pm IST

Published - December 19, 2018 04:41 pm IST - Thiruvananthapuram

Sathyan Anthikad

Sathyan Anthikad

Sathyan Anthikad’s filmography boasts some of the most popular films in Malayalam cinema. The auteur knows how to strike a chord with viewers. His latest, Njan Prakashan, sees him teaming up once again with scenarist and actor Sreenivasan after a fairly long break. The duo has delivered several gems in the past and, this time, an in-form Fahadh Faasil joins them as the titular character in the film.

Excerpts from an interview with the director.

Apart from Ennum Eppozhum , you cast young heroes like Fahadh Faasil, Dulquer Salmaan and Nivin Pauly in your last five films...

I follow the remarkable work done by these youngsters and I admire their work. I feel there is so much to learn from them. As a filmmaker, I make it a point to keep myself updated. However, choosing an actor for a film is done on the basis of the theme I plan to explore.

You are teaming up with Sreenivasan, almost 16 years after Yathrakkarude Sradhakku . How has the experience been?

Though I have worked with many scenarists, the bond I share with Sreenivasan is really special. We have constantly remained in touch all along and it’s just that we have been busy with other projects, which delayed a reunion. We always enjoy the time we sit together and develop our scripts through endless discussions. The cinema happens somewhere in between.

What is Njan Prakashan about?

All of us know Prakashan. I deliberately used almost a whole scene in the trailer, where Fahadh is seen at a wedding reception. That was to give an idea about his character. Njan Prakashan is proof that Sreenivasan can be so modern in his thoughts. The film travels along with Prakashan, watching what unfurls in his life.

Sathyan Anthikad with Sreenivasan

Sathyan Anthikad with Sreenivasan

You directed Fahadh in Oru Indian Pranayakadha. What makes him different?

Fahadh he reminds me of Mohanlal. If Njan Prakashan was made earlier, we would have thought of Mohanlal to play the character. Fahadh’s expressions when he gets into the shoes of his characters is just fascinating.

He does his roles with so much passion and that makes him a natural actor.

Some of your movies, like T P Balagopalan MA , Gandhinagar Second Street , Sanmanassullavarkku Samadhanam , Nadodikkaattu , Ponmuttayidunna Tharavu , Varavelppu , Mazhavilkkavadi and Thalayanamanthram are regarded as cult movies now. What makes these films so appealing to different generations?

It is an overwhelming feeling when these films are discussed with great appreciation and also when some of the dialogues become trending even now. In fact, we had no idea while writing those dialogues that they would be remembered so many years later. Maybe, it is the honesty with which we had done it that has helped the characters stand the test of time.

You have used humour as a tool to narrate your stories.

I believe it becomes even more effective when a serious theme is narrated with a dose of humour. Take the case of Varavelppu , which has quite an intense theme. It is actually a fight for survival. When we told it in a light-hearted way, it made so much of an impact. But it all depends on how one approaches a particular plot. [Director A K] Lohithadas adopted sentiments to narrate intense themes and that worked superbly.

A still from Njan Prakashan

A still from Njan Prakashan

But has such a branding limited your chance to experiment?

Not really. I am doing subjects that I like. So, such restrictions don’t affect me. In Njan Prakashan, we are essentially following the life of a youth and it is an experiment in its own way.

Though your films have made some subtle political statements, there have been theories that Sandesham is apolitical and is more of a comedy. How do you respond to it?

Usually, movies that handle politics talk about influential leaders and those in power. In Sandesham , we focused on ordinary workers of political parties. The film was, perhaps, labelled as apolitical as the climax showed them moving away from politics and taking up a job. There is a dialogue spoken by Thilakan to explain this in the film: one needs to reform oneself first before venturing out to change society. I feel Sandesham will always be relevant; it is a genuine political film.

What is your take on growing budgets of Malayalam films?

It’s not a new trend. There have been multi-starrers earlier too with top names of the industry. But even then, meaningful films got discussed the most. We recently saw how a beautiful film like 96 stood tall amidst some of those multi-crore projects in Tamil. We have to compete using ideas and not just with the money spent or earned.

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