Debutant director Madhupal gets a head start with ‘Thalappavu.’ Sangeeta
My day was made when litterateur M.T. Vasudevan Nair expressed a desire to watch the film. Being noticed by him is an award in itself.
‘There couldn’t be a better Onam gift for Malayalis’; ‘Prithiviraj is the future of Malayalam Cinema and so is Madhupal’; ‘Anyone trying to sabotage Thalappavu, may roast slowly in hell or be forced to watch endless re-runs of mindless Telugu remakes!’
These are some comments from blogs about the recently released flick ‘Thalappavu.’ Similar messages have been flooding the director’s mail boxes too, says Madhupal, the debutant director of the film.
“It is encouraging to get a positive feedback. Such responses may not always translate into box office returns, but the feedback motivates us to venture out on similar efforts,” says the director.
M.T. Vasudevan Nair’s award
Madhupal admits he was pleasantly taken aback by the positive response the film evinced among viewers from all walks of life. “My day was made when litterateur M.T. Vasudevan Nair expressed a desire to watch the film. Being noticed by him is an award in itself,” avers the writer-turned-actor-turned-director.
‘Thalappavu,’ which is based on the real-life story of naxalite Varghese’s death at the hands of the police, is indisputably the pick of the season. A brilliant script, flawless treatment and stellar performances make it a classic.
“The aesthetics of the film must be attributed to pre-production work. Babu Janardhanan, the script writer, and I sketched the whole film, shot by shot. So even before it was filmed, I knew how it would look, sound and feel. Babu knew the milieu well, so background detailing was easy,” reveals Madhupal.
Each shot seems to have been carefully designed and executed. “I did not want people crossing a scene for no rhyme and reason. The extra elements should reflect the life around. So we handpicked local activities and assigned it to junior artistes. Thus came in a payasam vendor, which many found interesting. He does not appear prominently in the scene, but his presence is felt through the soundtrack,” explains the director.
Madhupal says his stint with Rajiv Anchal in Hollywood helped him polish the quality of the sound track of ‘Thalappavu.’
“For them, natural sound is of utmost importance. They also use it as transitions. Sound will appear before the cut to lead you to the next scene. We have also used sound to enhance cuts and dissolves. Travelling sound also contributed in smoothening the transitions.”
The director’s craft can also be seen in the metaphorical transitions in the film and even in the casting.
Lal plays the central character of Ravindran Pillai, a remorseful cop who confesses to his role in the killing of Joseph, played by Prithiviraj.
“Prithiviraj has some physical similarities with Varghese, hence the decision to cast him.
Lal too was chosen primarily for his physical appearance. Needless to say, they are actors par excellence, and contributed a great deal to the film,” points out Madhupal.
Atul Kulkarni, Rohini, Dhanya and Maniyan Pilla Raju essay important roles in the film.
“It was the script that attracted Atul Kulkarni and Rohini. Neither do they know me nor are they active in Malayalam Cinema. It is their faith in cinema that motivated them to work in the film. Atul’s grace and Rohini’s earthiness enhanced the characters.”
Star of the film
But the star of the film, undoubtedly, is Azhagappan, the cinematographer who has aesthetically captured scenic Kuttanad.
“Azhagu shows amazing consistency in his work. But his major contribution in ‘Thalappavu,’ I think, came in a different way. He was the only one who reined in my wild flights of imagination. He would say this much, and not more,” says Madhupal who finds it difficult to stop smiling.
He promises to make more films based on real-life issues. “Fiction for the sake of fiction does not interest me... at least not in cinema,” he says.