Ratheesh Balakrishnan Poduval is still not over Nna Thaan Case Kodu. It is not because the film won seven awards at the Kerala State Film Awards 2022, but because when the award announcement came on Friday, he was in the middle of the shooting for his next film Sureshinteyum Sumalathayudeyum Hridayahariyaya Pranayakatha, which is a spin-off of Nna Thaan Case Kodu, with Rajesh Madhavan and Chithra reprising the roles they played in the 2022 film.
“It was certainly a wonderful coincidence that when we are working on the spin-off of a film. What makes it sweeter is the fact that many of the technicians working on the new film have won awards too. When we finished Nna Thaan Case Kodu, we had the confidence that we had made a film which would work with the audience, and it worked too. But, we did not expect the award jury to give such acceptance for the film. It is not often that a jury seriously looks at the technical side of a satire,” says an elated Ratheesh in an interview to The Hindu from the film set.
The Best Character Actor (Male) award for P.P. Kunhikrishnan’s performance as a magistrate is another award which particularly gladdened him. Ratheesh conducted 15 days of rehearsal shoots before the film to study the behaviour and dialogue delivery styles of the actors. Later, he rewrote the script based on this. Kunhikrishnan’s performance was something that was noticed in the sets too, as much as Kunchacko Boban’s. The spin-off, he says, will not be a political satire, but would draw on some elements from the original film, with Kunchacko appearing in a cameo.
During his younger days in Payyannur, Ratheesh did not have much hopes of making it in the film industry. Those were the days when the industry had not spread out across the State, as it is now.
“I used to paint a lot from my younger days. A neighbour suggested that I take up the role of assistant art director in a television serial in the late 1990s. That paved the way for the role of assistant art director in films too, with the car in CID Moosa being one of the earlier works. Later, I moved to Mumbai, where I assisted production designer Sumit Basu. Force in 2011 was my first independent movie as a production designer and Badhai Ho was the last. Still, my approach to movies is from the eyes of a production designer,” he says.
His filmmaking debut was with Android Kunjappan Version 5.25, a deeply human story about an old man’s attachment to a humanoid robot, which his son brings him to take care of him. In Nna Thaan Case Kodu, he told the story of a reformed thief, who has his honour and many other things at stake when he begins a legal battle over a pothole on the road in front of an MLA’s house, which — according to him — led to a series of events that caused him not just physical injury, but branded him as a thief yet again.