FRIDAY REVIEW

Mapping emotional terrain

CASTING COUP: Film director Shyamaprasad with Meera Jasmine on the sets of `Ore Kadal'  

SREEDHAR PILLAI

Shymaprasad opens up on his latest film, `Ore Kadal,' an adaptation of Sunil Gangopadhya's classic `Heerak Deepti.'

Shyamaprasad is one of the few directors in Malayalam who believes in making good cinema. His calling card remains his artistry and intellectual disposition. Moreover he is a very good technician. He honed his skills at the Thiruvananthapuram Doordarshan as a programme executive and has proven himself with critically acclaimed films like `Agnisakshi' and `Akale.' The director has managed to pull off a casting coup by bringing together National Award winning actors Mammootty and Meera Jasmine together in his new film `Ore Kadal.' Speaking at the Chennai location of the film, Shyamaprasad opens up on his new film and his star cast. You have managed a casting coup in bringing together two national-award winners along with Narain, a budding actor. (Smiles) It just happened. When I narrated the script of `Ore Kadal' to Mammootty and Meera Jasmine, they immediately agreed to do the film. And I got a good producer in Vindhyan, who agreed to fund the project and everything fell into place. What is `Ore Kadal' all about?The film is based on Bengali writer Sunil Gangopadhya's classic `Heerak Deepti,' a love story set in a very intense and difficult situation. It is about a man's discovery of love that resides deep in him, even though he refuses to accept it. But soon it surfaces and it redeems him. I have heard that Satyajit Ray had initially planned to make `Heerak Deepti' into a feature film but ended up making `Aranyer Din-Ratri,' a story by the same author. You seem to enjoy making adaptations. Your last film `Akale' was based on Tennessee William's autobiographical play `The Glass Menagerie.' Why? I try to be faithful to the adaptation, making minor changes to suit our milieu. I'm shooting the entire film in Chennai because I needed a big city backdrop for the story. The whole story unfolds against an urban background, and I got this location (an incomplete shopping mall at Gemini circle in Chennai converted into a make-shift studio by the promoters) in the heart of Chennai within my budget. I plan to complete the film in 35 days. What is the one-line story or plot of `Ore Kadal'?For me, the script is the most important factor, and the actors that I chose should be the right choice; in other words perfect for the role that they are assigned. `Ore Kadal' is an intimate study of man-woman relationship set in modern times. Mammootty plays an economist in the film, a genius who refuses to accept that he is slowly but surely falling in love. Mammootty and Meera are two people caught in a dilemma, with Narain as the helpless victim. I do not want to divulge further details about the story. Why did you choose Mammootty and Meera for the roles?As the title indicates, my film is all about the sea within a person's mind. It is a trip through an emotional terrain, a subject that requires sensitivity and restraint especially as it sketches man-woman relationship. For this, I need performers and Mammootty fitted the bill. He can convey the various mood swings and is also an actor who can inhabit the character with a searing intensity that is required to make the film work. And Meera is also an excellent actor, along with Narain. I'm very happy with my casting, and have been able to extract top-of-the line performances from my lead actors. How different will `Ore Kadal' be from your earlier films?It is a continuation of the earlier themes that I have done of love and redemption. What I've tried to do is to bring back story-oriented and emotional films, which we seem to have lost! In terms of thematic content or stylistic aspect, `Ore Kadal' is a much more direct and powerful narrative. Azhagappan is my cameraman. He brings freshness to the shot composition and storytelling, and there is Ouseppachan to provide the songs. We are planning to release the film by June-July.