‘Mayaanadhi’ tugs at the heartstrings of viewers with the cinematic brilliance and excellence in craft displayed by Aashiq Abu, setting it apart from other contemporary films, most of which fail to leave an impression – of either sadness, happiness or thought – on the audience.
The superbly crafted film, the plot of which unfolds like a slow flowing river, depicts the struggle for survival of the protagonists, and has waded across a flood of negative campaigning to attract viewers to theatres. Director Ashiq Abu, pleased with the outcome, speaks on the making of the movie and the warm reception it is receiving.
You were once considered a celebrity new gen filmmaker. However, recently, this status seems to have been somewhat diminished with the emergence of another crop of directors. What do you feel? Would you consider ‘Mayaanadhi’ as a sort of comeback film?
I don’t belong to those breed of filmmakers who prefer to stick to one particular genre. In fact, I like to experiment with various genres. However, I have only one regret. That is ‘Gangster’, which I now believe was a mistake. Even ‘Rani Padmini’, which failed to create an impact, and my short film in ‘Five Beautiful Women’, gave me satisfaction.
One can never predict how a movie would be received by the mainstream audience. I have always tried to bring my works as close to mainstream preferences as possible.
However, ‘Mayaanadhi’ is one film in which I did not consciously introduce several mainstream elements. Even though love is a major theme of the film, it comes alive on screen in images and symbols which are not in tune with commercial cinema trends. I am glad that viewers have accepted my film and made it part of the mainstream.
‘Mayaanadhi’ could have been a fast-paced crime thriller. However, you preferred to make a slow-paced emotional drama. Why did you do that?
The crime investigation aspect of the movie was shifted to the background as we felt that the main theme of ‘Mayaanadhi’ was love and the lingering pain of loss. The plot primarily focuses on following the main protagonists Mathan and Appu. Even the policemen are depicted as humans having their own emotions, rather than cold enforcers of the law.
One can never travel along a fast track while in love. The feeling has to flow slowly. So, this was the pace we wanted the film to achieve. In fact, this aspect reflected in the promotion of the film too, which was a rather a quiet affair.
In the recent controversy sparked by actor Parvathy’s statement, Rima – your spouse – had supported her stand. There was a campaign against the film based on this.
Judge me with the people I ignore. I believe Kerala society would give a fitting reply to such negative campaigning, which doesn’t merit a reply.
It has been suggested that senior actors like Mammootty should be cautious while selecting the characters they portray. What is your opinion?
Actors like Mammootty and Mohanlal have been in this field for a long time. They can choose to portray whichever character they like. Who am I to advise them? Moreover, it is wrong to ask another individual to make a particular choice.
‘Mayaanadhi’ depicts a struggle for survival. Is it also not a director’s struggle?
Each film is a struggle. I am not among those filmmakers who work from a comfort zone. When one goes off the beaten track, it is but natural that you face obstacles. It will be never an easy journey. Still, we deviate from the tried and tested path believing that film, being such a powerful medium, can find its own path.
It is said that art is war, of which cinema, crisis and survival are all part. It’s all part of the game.
The tagline of the movie says that it is dedicated to all the ‘Remaining lovers in our land’. Do you think love has lost its intensity in real life?
A tagline was not planned before the release of the film. It took shape after the reviews and reactions came out. It was scriptwriter Shyam who created the tagline.
After watching the film, many viewers revisit long lost memories of deep love. They write passionately about this as well as the film. ‘Mayaanadhi’ has succeeded in evoking the most sensitive emotions of such an audience.
Most mainstream films have been afraid to deal with the deep emotions of people undergoing a constant struggle for survival. Maybe, such films wanted to say something else.
Tell us about the music and the casting.
Music has a major role in a film dealing with deep and intense love such as ‘Mayaanadhi’. A significant portion of the making of the movie was dedicated to creating the songs. Rex Vijayan, who set the music, and Shahbas, Yahson, Neha, Sushin and others spent eight to nine months on it.
We wanted to create a surprise with the cast. The heroine was to be a fresh face. As Tovino was not a big star, the problem of image did not emerge. Other actors were chosen based on how the characters were sketch out.
It is said that good films have few fans. What do you feel?
There is a big audience eager to watch meaningful movies, including you and me. However, we don’t belong to an organised religion propagating the cause.