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Mathukutty: ‘Most of us know a Kunjeldho’

Mathukutty

Mathukutty | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Popular RJ-turned-director Mathukutty aka Arun Mathew, laughs when he recalls an incident he had shared with director-scenarist Vineeth Sreenivasan. The filmmaker burst into laughter. Vineeth felt there was a seed of a story in it and told Mathukutty to turn it into a script.

Vineeth was then working on his third film Thira (2013). By the time he was shooting for Kunjiramayanam (2015) [as the lead actor], Mathukutty had his script ready. Vineeth gave him a few suggestions and he was supposed to direct the film. But as he was already working on several projects, he suggested that Mathukutty direct the film he had nurtured for so long.

“That was how Kunjeldho became my first directorial venture,” says Mathukutty. “It is a film about emotional growth, how boys become men, how we change as we move through our late teens and twenties. There are several elements in the film that I have borrowed from my college years. It is a feel-good campus film infused with humour.”

As soon as actor Asif Ali read the script, he reportedly told Mathukutty that some of the incidents seemed to be taken from his life. “There is a Kunjeldho most of us know,” believes Mathukutty. The film was announced in June 2019 and shooting began in September 2019.

Apart from Asif, who plays the titular role of Kunjeldho, Vineeth, Siddique, Sudheesh and Gopika Udayan are in the cast. Vineeth is also the creative director of the film.

“I wanted Vineeth ettan’ s (elder brother) name to be in the credits for the writer. He was the one who gave me the idea for the story and sat through the first narration. Since I had never assisted anyone or worked on a film set as such, there were many technical details I was not confident about. Till I got used to it all, Vineeth ettan was on the sets to handhold me.”

Mathukutty wanted to give Vineeth credit for all that he did. Although he wanted Vineeth’s name as the co-writer or director, the latter would have none of it. So Vineeth has been credited as the creative director.

Back in college

Shot in UC College Aluva, Mathukutty says he had to shoot in his alma mater as much of the incidents in the story were inspired from his college life. “I became Mathukutty in college as a way of differentiating between me and another student who was also called Arun. That is how my friends began calling me Mathukutty. I had to go back to campus, where the story begins.” Perumbavoor, Thodupuzha, Paravoor and Munnar are among other locations of the movie.

The film traces Kunjeldho’s life as he moves from 12th standard in school to college and then into his 20s. “That is why I was keen on casting Asif. He has the face and the body to pull it off. Kunjeldho is having the time of his life in college when certain incidents force him to take decisions that have far-reaching repercussions.”

Despite the film being ready in early 2020, the producers were willing to wait for theatres to reopen. Mathukutty admits that like any debutant he was keen on the film reaching theatres but if the producers had decided otherwise, he would have gone with that as well.

There is a reason why the film is being released during Christmas. “The climax of the film unfolds on December 26 and so I am happy that is being released on December 24.”

Once bitten by the film bug, it is difficult to shake off. So it is with Mathukutty. He has finished his second script and is in talks with producers and actors.


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Printable version | Feb 13, 2022 9:48:56 am | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/interview-mathukutty-director-malayalam-movie-kunjeldho/article38003224.ece