Shark hunters and romance in Lakshadweep: director Kamal's next

Vinayakan in a still from ‘Pranaya Meenukalude Kadal’   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

In a career spanning over three decades, Malayalam filmmaker Kamal has won a reputation as a trendsetter. Since his debut in 1986 with Mizhineerpoovukal, the director, currently the chairman of the Kerala State Chalachitra Academy, has made many evergreen films such as Unnikale Oru Kadha Parayam, Kakkothikkavile Appooppan Thaadikal, Peruvannapurathe Visheshangal, Thooval Sparsham, Ulladakkam, Ee Puzhayum Kadannu, Krishnagudiyil Oru Pranayakalathu and Niram.

Kamal says that being the chairman of the Kerala Chalachitra Academy has been an extension of his creative space and has brought him closer to new developments in cinema.

After the Madhavikutty biopic, Aami, he is back in action with Pranaya Meenukalude Kadal, which releases today. While Vinayakan plays the lead role in the story set in Lakshadweep, it also launches two debutants, Gabri and Riddhi Kumar.

Edited excerpts from an interview:

As a prolific filmmaker, with close to 50 films in 33 years, how would you look back at your career as a director?

I selected subjects that were relevant to the times the films were made. My passion for movies has remained intact and that has kept me going all along.

How do you keep yourself updated?

I watch movies religiously. Many experienced filmmakers refuse to come out of their days of glory and recognise new talents. I don’t buy that theory at all. I admire filmmakers who have come after me, including the current crop, and keep interacting with them. I try adapting the technology that is in vogue, which is important as viewers are adept at following such advancements and keep track of the latest narrative patterns.

Filmmaker Kamal

Filmmaker Kamal   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

What is Pranaya Meenukalude Kadal about?

More than a love story, the movie has some strong human elements. The story is set in Lakshadweep. Some people reach the island to repair an uru (a large wooden boat) and the incidents that follow happen against a backdrop of romance.

Who is Vinayakan’s character?

He plays Hydrose a.k.a. Hydru, a shark hunter. I developed the character based on a guy I had met in Lakshadweep many years ago. He had told me about his experience of going into the deep sea for sharks. That helped me while writing the role.

You have teamed up with scenarist John Paul more than 30 years after Unnikrishnante Aadyathe Christmas...

The producer of Pranaya Meenukalude Kadal had planned a project earlier with John Paul, which didn’t materialise. So when we were discussing this one, I asked him (John Paul) if we could work on the script together.

Your movies from the ‘80s and ‘90s continue to appeal to a new generation...

Those themes had a soul and so the appeal hasn’t faded away. It is like the popularity of old songs. We like to hear them again and again. But if we include a similar tune in a movie now, it may not be liked by the viewers. Emotions remain constant. Only the way they are expressed keeps changing.

What is your take on discussions about realistic cinema?

Realism has always been there. However, there has been a change in presenting a romanticised version of fiction. Now, stories are based on what is happening around us and so viewers can relate to the stories. Nevertheless, the definition of realism is bound to change and many years later, today’s concepts are bound to become outdated. But a positive development is the break from several formulas in narratives. Earlier, for instance, there used to be a parallel track for humour, which barely had any connection with the main story, whereas filmmakers of my generation brought humour closer to the main story. Now it blends with the narrative.

How do you view the impact of social media on movies?

It is crucial to a film’s success. For one, it is an effective marketing tool. But more than that, constructive discussions and scrutiny have influenced the development of stories and there is a certain awareness on how to present characters. It reflects how society thinks. We have realised how misogynistic and hypocritical some of the celebrated movies from the past were, as social media presents fresh perspectives.

Have the fear of diktats from religious or political groups, censorship and so on limited the choice of stories for filmmakers?

The situation has become difficult. The censorship rules have changed like never before. Then there are restrictions on the language used and pressure from various groups who think they have the right to attack films, without considering the fact that cinema is an art form.

Do you regret making any of your movies?

Yes, there have been a few, though there is no point regretting about it now as they were made on the belief that it was relevant then.

Your movies have mostly been content-driven. Haven’t you ever wanted to make an opulent film on a big budget?

I believe that the content of a film decides the budget. I have never felt that making big-budget films would add to a filmmaker’s brilliance.

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Printable version | Jul 28, 2021 9:47:31 PM |

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