Kiran Josey calls Anurag Engineering Works, his Malayalam short film, a paavam (ingenuous in the context). Released over a month ago, the buzz around the film, uploaded on YouTube, picked over the last week with it going viral after having been viewed more than three million times and counting.
The response, he confesses, exceeds the team’s expectations by “several lakh views”. “I was expecting a couple of lakh views at the most. The duration, almost 30 minutes, would be considered ‘too long’, and the ‘short film’ trend seems to have waned. So I was sceptical about the reception.”
The film became a conversation piece after more than two weeks of its release. The reason for it, Kiran says, is a clipping from the film posted as a reel. “We don’t know who it was but apparently that sent people looking for the source and they ‘found’ our film.”
Anurag Engineering Works is about Anurag (Vineeth Vasudevan), who runs a welding workshop in a village, and his tryst with love. The endearing story is set in a dusty part of Payyanur and speaks of Anurag’s ‘love’ for Neethu and his attempts to catch her attention. “The simplicity of the story and the characters resonated with the audience. And perhaps that is why why we are getting so much love,” says the Kottayam-based chemical engineer.
He wrote the script, which was intended to be part of an anthology, with Adarsh Sadanand. The inspiration for this story came from the ones Adarsh told him about the people he knew back home in Payannur. “The story, according to the makers, did not work for them as they pointed out some flaws, which we worked on and set right. And then, since we had the story, we thought why not make it as a standalone short.” Adarsh is also the film’s cinematographer.
Shot like a feature film
Unlike most short films which tend to be conceived minimally, the canvas of Anurag… is vast in terms of the location, and characters. One feedback coming the team’s way has been that it is ‘like a feature film’. “We have shot it like a feature film, people are watching it repeatedly for that reason.” Completing the feature film ‘feel’ is a song composed by Milan John. Most of the actors are locals, except Vineeth; some like the female lead Akhila Bhargavan are Tik Tokers. Others such as the ‘mothers’ in the film are part of a local theatre collective for women.
The team gave serious thought to the location and zeroed in on Cheemeni, “Usually with films located in Kerala, the scenery is verdant but we wanted to show a different place. Hence the dry, dusty part of Payannur. Everything just came together.” The team stuck to the dialect, “just enough so that those of us from other places in Kerala can also understand.”
Kiran and the team are taking in the response, positive feedback and love being showered on their ‘small film’. “Another reason that people have taken to it is, perhaps, the nishkalankatha (innocence). There is nothing ‘irritating’ about it!”
The film is streaming on YouTube.