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‘Happy Sardar’ is a rom-com, a complete no-brainer entertainer, say directors Geethika Sudip and Sudip Joshy

A still from ‘Happy Sardar’, directed by Geethika Sudip and Sudip Joshy

A still from ‘Happy Sardar’, directed by Geethika Sudip and Sudip Joshy   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

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It is perhaps the first film in Malayalam to be directed and scripted by a couple

Geethika Sudip and Sudip Joshy had many scripts and one-line stories in their kitty. But things did not fall into place as they had envisaged. Either the stars they had in mind were busy with other projects or the producers were. “That is when we met Kalidas Jayaram in a café and while chatting with him we mentioned that we were planning to turn directors with a feature film. Without any hesitation, Kalidas replied in the affirmative and that is when we found that the kind of story lines we had could not do justice to a young actor in his twenties. This was in 2017 when he still working in Poomaram,” says Sudip.

Cut to 2019. Geethika and Sudip are busy promoting their film Happy Sardar, which reached cinemas on Thursday. Perhaps the first movie in Malayalam to be directed and scripted by a couple, Happy Sardar, has Kalidas playing Happy Singh, a veterinary doctor from Punjab who happens to be in love with a Malayali woman from the Knanaya Christian community.

Geethika Sudip

Geethika Sudip   | Photo Credit: special arrangement

“It is a rom-com, a complete no-brainer entertainer that revolves around their romance. When we found that we did not have a suitable script for Kalidas, we developed one that tapped his many talents as a mimicry artiste and excellent dancer. We found that he has a dedicated fan following among college girls and they all wanted to see him in a romantic role. So, we thought we would make one that played up his strong points,” adds Geethika.

Sudip points out that films based around weddings, such as Tanu Weds Manu, Band Baaja Baraat, Sonu ki Titu ki shaadi..., which have worked well in Bollywood, is almost a new genre in Malayalam cinema. So, they thought of a movie like that on the lines of Two States and Chennai Express; a story about two people from two different states but with elaborate weddings.

Sudip Joshy

Sudip Joshy   | Photo Credit: special arrangement

“That is why we decided it had to be a young woman from the Knanaya Christian community as they have elaborate wedding rituals, but ones that are quite different from a Punjabi wedding,” says Sudip.

Both Geethika and Sudip are not new to cinema, with Sudip having worked as an actor and scenarist and Geethika too having made her mark as a scenarist and assistant. So they came up with a film that combined humour, entertainment and music. “Both of us grew up on a diet of Priyadarsan films. Suddenly, there is a dearth of those kind of movies. Now, it is realism that has become the rage. So, strangely, in a way, we have made a mainstream entertainer that is also experimental in this period of realistic cinema,” explains Geethika.

Reel goals
  • Geethika: “Both Sudip and I were working together in a private television channel. So we met as colleagues and we knew we could easily work together. Marriage came later. The creative differences surfaced when we were writing the script. Then there were arguments and compromises but once all those were ironed out, it was all smooth going. So there were no clashes during the direction. I am more inclined towards thrillers and investigative films. My kind of love stories are those with a sad ending. Nevertheless men and women do have different perspectives on certain subjects and if I ever happen to make a film on such a subject from a woman’s perspective, maybe I might then go solo as a director. Sudip will certainly be completely involved in the film but not as director.”
  • Sudip: “I am sure I will never be able to direct a film without Geethika. I discovered that during the shooting of Happy Sardar. But this film is more my kind of a film. I was more into mainstream entertainers and it was while we were working together for television that Geethika introduced me to the masters and classics. That has been my exposure to world cinema.”

The huge star cast includes Javed Jaffrey, Siddique, Sreenath Bhasi, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Maala Parvati, Praveena, Shanthi Krishna and Sharafudeen among others. “It also includes a menagerie of animals and a train. Since this was our first film as directors, we were not all that clear about many things and so we bravely went ahead. I doubt if we would have been o adventurous if it had been our second one,” laughs Geethika.

Shot in Punjab, Goa, Hyderabad and Kerala, the film traces Happy’s travel from Punjab to Kerala. Javed plays Inderpal Singh, the angry father of the bridegroom. A retired army officer, he does not have a high opinion of his son who chooses not to follow in his father’s footsteps. Siddique essays Kochara, an NRI with four daughters. He resents Happy Singh, Kalidas’ character, when Mary, Kochara’s youngest (Miriam Philip) falls for him. “We cast Miriam after auditions and she has risen to our expectations. Geethika felt that it would be best to have a relatively new face for a rom-com like ours,” says Sudip.

Kalidas Jayaram and Sreenath Bhasi in a still from ‘Happy Sardar’

Kalidas Jayaram and Sreenath Bhasi in a still from ‘Happy Sardar’   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

He adds that though they have made it as a breezy musical with five songs by Gopi Sundar, they have also tried to bring in a sub-plot about honour killing without trying to be preachy. “We have tried to weave it in subtly into the plot. I had always believed that honour killing was a North Indian issue. However, while we were writing the script, the murder of Kevin [Kevin P Joseph, a Dalit Christian] was making headlines in the media and that came as a shocker as the courts found it to be a case of ‘honour killing’,” elaborates Geethika.

Nevertheless, she feels that their film is more “his kind” of a film as it is a mainstream one. “This is the kind of film both of us wanted to make. Perhaps, I might have chosen a different theme or storyline. But we are happy that it has come out the way we wanted it to,” she says.

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Printable version | Dec 10, 2019 12:00:47 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/happy-sardar-is-the-first-malayalam-film-directed-by-a-couple-geethika-sudip-and-sudip-joshy/article30113346.ece

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