Appu N Bhattathiri on directing ‘Nizhal’ with Nayanthara and Kunchacko Boban

Appu N Bhattathiri   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Nayanthara teaming up with Kunchacko Boban is the big news from Mollywood. The movie, titled Nizhal, marks the directorial début of State award-winning editor, Appu N Bhattathiri. Before the film went on floors on Monday (October 19) at Kalamassery near Kochi, Appu talked to MetroPlus about the project and fulfilling his dream of turning director.

Nizhal is a mystery thriller. That’s all I can say as of now,” says Appu, adding that casting Nayanthara was not in the scheme of things when they had started the project. “The film has powerful male and female leads. Chackochan [Kunchacko Boban] was finalised for his role at the beginning itself. It was he who suggested having Nayanthara on board. That thought had never crossed our mind because it didn’t seem to be a possibility. The role indeed required someone like her, thanks to the connect she has made with the audience through her multiple strong characters,” says Appu. Nayantara’s last release in Malayalam was Dhyan Sreenivasan’s Love Action Drama, opposite Nivin Pauly.

Poster of ‘Nizhal’

Poster of ‘Nizhal’   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Appu has been nurturing dreams of becoming a filmmaker for many years now. “Initially, I wanted to become a cinematographer. But, after a point, direction enthused me. However, I was forced to take up editing,” he laughs. While pursuing his graduation in digital media in Chennai, he would edit short films made by his friends. Even after finishing his course, he continued to do it as it became a source of income. He worked in numerous short films, most of them directed by his friends, and also directed a few shorts.

The 31-year-old from Thiruvananthapuram started his career as an assistant director in Second Show (2012), the launch vehicle of Dulquer Salmaan, and debuted as an editor in Sanal Kumar Sasidharan’s Oraalppokkam (2014). He won the Kerala State Film Award for Best Editor (2017) for Ottamurivelicham and Veeram and has also worked in three other state-award-winning films.

“Even though I badly wanted to switch over to direction all these years I couldn’t do that. In fact, I set out three times to direct a movie but the projects didn’t materialise. Maybe, I am lucky for the fourth time now,” he says.

Talking about the genre, Appu says that he has always been a huge fan of thrillers. “I have edited very few such scenes in the films I have worked. Compared to Tamil and Hindi, there aren’t many gripping thrillers in Malayalam. So I always wanted to bring that in my film,” he says, making special reference to David Fincher’s movies such as SE7EN and Zodiac.

As for the COVID-19 restrictions in place on the shooting location, Appu says that the team plans to take advantage of the controlled environment. “The project was conceptualised two years ago and we rolled it out now because everything fell into place. We are confident of pulling it off within the limitations because the movie has several scenes that need such a milieu,” he says.

Talking about the crew, he points out that it is among the many projects he had finalised with the film’s writer and scenarist, Sanjeev S. Although they had finalised three scripts earlier, the films didn’t materialise. The soundscape will be a highlight. “There are certain aspects in the movie that has to be heard as well,” he adds. Appu’s cousin, Abhishek S Bhattathiri, a supervising sound editor in many Bollywood films, is making his debut in Malayalam as a sound designer with Nizhal.

Appu is also editing the film with Arunlal SP, his classmate. “Having edited several projects, I tend to become mechanical and visualise the end product even when the shoot is on. So it was important to have another point of view. Arun has been into visual effects and he will definitely bring something fresh to the editing table since he is new to this,” Appu says.

Appu says that it is too early to talk about how to screen the film. “Like all début directors, I also look forward for a theatrical release,” he avers. Before signing off, he adds: “There are certain things I want to do in Nizhal, which haven’t been attempted before. Cinema has been going through a lot of changes and audiences are open to that. Besides content, there is a possibility of experimenting with the making as well.”

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Printable version | Dec 3, 2020 10:01:46 AM |

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