SHILPA NAIR ANAND
‘Thalappavu,’ which has Prithviraj playing the male lead, marks Madhupal’s directorial debut.
Thankam is one happy woman, says her friend, “She has seen Prithiviraj, Lal and Dhanya, so she doesn’t need her lunch.” “I came here in the morning. As I live close by, I’ll go after sometime,” says Thankam at about 3 p.m.
Finding this location for Madhupal’s directorial debut, ‘Thalappavu,’ must have been quite a hunt. Rocky Ayyappanmudi, set amid rubber plantations, is a few kilometres from Kothamangalam.
In the midst of greenery
Situated atop a tiny hillock or rather a very big boulder is the mud-walled house. Plastic sheets serve as curtains to keep the rain out. Plantains, tapioca and cacti jostle for space with the filming equipment and the paraphernalia of daily life of those living in the house. There is hardly any space to walk. The place is untouched by the passage of time. On the verandah, Madhupal and his assistants direct Dhanya Mary while Lal waits for his turn, outside. “I am a cop in the film,” that’s all Lal would say.
Minus his trademark beard and with a different hairstyle it would be easy to miss him in the crowd of crew and onlookers. He is called for his shot with Dhanya, even as she is being coached.
Madhupal confers with scenarist Babu Janardhan about the shot, “Will this look do?”
And then it starts pouring. There is a mad rush to get the equipment indoors as the crowd mills around for a glimpse of the actors.
Meanwhile elsewhere, around 300 hundred metres from where the shot is being canned, Prithviraj, the male lead, catches up on the cricket match between India and Australia. Young school children rush from school to catch a glimpse of the actor, who, oblivious to the attention, is engrossed in the cricket match.
“My decision to do the film is solely based on the script which is interesting,” says Prithviraj. The film spans the 40s, the 60s and the present. Prithiviraj essays the role of a Naxalite called Joseph. Lal is a cop called Ravindran Pillai and Atul Kulkarni is the landlord.
‘Thalappavu,’ the literal meaning of which is turban or headgear, is a symbol of power, status and protection in the film.
“‘Thalappavu’ is inspired by the incident involving the killing of Naxalite Varghese in the 70s, and head constable Ramachandran Nair’s subsequent admission of having been behind the killing. What happened then is relevant even today.
“Although everybody is familiar with the events, we have tried a reworking with respect to the storytelling. The script and treatment are different,” says Madhupal of his directorial debut. Of the subject that he has chosen to debut with, Madhupal says that there could not have been a better film to make a debut with.
The film will also be shot in Alappuzha. The script is by Babu Janardhan. The film’s cast includes Atul Kulkarni, Prithviraj, Jagathy Sreekumar, Lal, Dhanya Mary, Meera Krishna and E. A. Rajendran, Sreejith Ravi and Sudheer Karamana among others. Alagappan has wielded the camera. Lyrics are by O. N. V. Kurup and music by Alex Paul. The film is slated for release in January.