Vijesh Vijay’s ‘Mandharam’ will see Asif Ali in five looks

The 30-year-old’s directorial début, touted to be a love story, is slated to release on October 5

September 28, 2018 01:25 pm | Updated 01:26 pm IST - Thiruvananthapuram

Asif Ali and Varsha Bollamma in a still from Mandharam

Asif Ali and Varsha Bollamma in a still from Mandharam

Vijesh Vijay studied mechanical engineering, but he has never worked as an engineer. Even during his college days, the 30-year-old says he was more interested in finding time to assist in ad films. It may not be a co-incidence that the protagonist in his directorial début, Mandharam , which sees Asif Ali in five different get-ups, goes in for the same field of study, only to later doggedly pursue desires close to his heart.

In the director’s own words, Mandharam is a “100% love story”. Vijesh adds that the film, which reaches theatres on October 5, is “a feel-good coming-of-age rom-com” tracing the ups-and-downs in the life of Rajesh (Asif) as we see him “grow and mature” from the age of nine till he is in his early thirties. “The beautiful mandharam (flower) is a visual leitmotif in the movie and you can see it making an appearance in some significant moments in Rajesh’s life. It also holds a symbolic significance. You’ll understand that when you watch Mandharam ,” Vijay says over phone from Kochi, throwing more light about the title.

A native of Thrissur, the young director says “the subject” had been blossoming in his mind for many years and the script was finally fleshed out in nine months by his close friend and scenarist M. Sajas. Set mainly in Bengaluru and Thrissur, Mandharam , has music at its heart, with the lead character himself an aspiring musician. Apart from seven standalone tracks, including a sufi song written by Hindi singer-songwriter Piyush Kapoor, Vijesh reveals that the film features “recreations not remixes” of some evergreen songs in Malayalam. But he’s quick to add with a laugh: “We have not tried to escape any scene by forcing in a song and every number carries an organic piece of the overall story.” He credits debutant music composer Mujeeb Majeed for setting to tune lines of Shabareesh Varma and Vinayak Sasikumar, with Vijesh himself penning the Mittayi... song.

Mandharam features two heroines, Tamil actor Varsha Bollamma as Charu and Anarkali Marikar of Vimaanam as Devika, while others in the line-up include Ganesh Kumar as Asif’s father, Nandini, Jacob Gregory and Arjun Ashokan. Asif's childhood roles as a nine-year-old and 15-year-old are essayed by real-life siblings Eric Anil (of Take-off fame) and Evan Anil. Cinematography is by newcomer Bahul Ramesh. Vijesh also has a word of praise for R G Wayanadan, the man behind Asif's “transformations” within the movie, who has previously applied the greasepaint for Dulquer Salmaan ( Parava ) and Tovino ( Guppy ).

Vijesh, who has assisted award-winning director Pradeep Nair in a couple of movies, says he’s a fan of “romances and feel-good movies.” No surprises here as in the same breath he reveals that Karan Johar is a staple watch, while describing friend Anwar Rasheed as his “mentor”. Sticking to his likes and strengths, Vijesh is also working on another romance, scripted by himself. For the time being, he’s happy to revel in the sweet fragrance of Mandharam .

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