Tony Madathil would never have moved his pen unless his wife triggered the writer in him. Seven years a software engineer, Tony, hailing from Kottayam district, finally decided to quit his highly paid engineering job and venture out into scriptwriting after his spouse Reshma promised to earn for their families until he started getting paid for his passion. As Tony's very first script for a feature film releases as a full-fledged commercial movie on September 20, he opens up to Onmanorama regarding his family, dreams, career and plans.
About the story of 'Mangalyam Thanthunanena'
The movie is actually a fun-ride. It deals with the expectations, realities and resolutions of the institution that is marriage. Family satire is still a rare genre in Malayalam. It basically speaks how marriage, as an establishment, is carried out despite many contemporary societal problems. I request all of you to watch the movie in theatres because quite like marriage, it has lot of fun amid all the troubles.
About your engineering career
I 'was' an engineer for a long time. The people of Kottayam hardly take art as a vocation. We do business, we do corporate jobs, we love farming – but art is not a forte for us. So when people ask me about my profession, my answer – which is 'writing' – never satisfies them. So I say 'I quit my software profession to become a writer,' which is the reality. I had been a software engineer with a leading global firm for long seven years. But ironically, that wasn't what I wished for since my childhood. I always wanted to be a writer. As a teenager, I was not offered enough support to pursue my passion. I was asked to get good education and become either a doctor or an engineer. Naturally, like many others, I too became an engineer.
As a child, I was thrown out of my Hindi class for writing a poem in my notebook. I was way too imaginative to be a techie. I used to write short-stories and poetry as a child. I knew I was wasting my time and energy all while I did my B Tech and started working in an IT firm. In a way, Roy, the protagonist of 'Mangalyam Thanthunanena', is similar to my real-life personality.
How marriage changed your life
Marriage changed my life. After I tied knot with my best friend Reshma Stella Robin, she recognised my dispirited approach towards my profession. She asked me what I really wanted in my life. I said I want to be a writer. She forced me to quit my highly paid job and chase my passion. Initially, I was worried about the financial base of our family. 'Who will pay the bills? Who will support our families?' I had asked her. She gave me a word that she would support both our families and be the bread-winner until I start getting paid from my dream profession. Somehow, the gender stereotypes fell apart and we became the besties who supported each other to realise every crazy wish. Without her support, I would have never become a writer. We are blessed with two little angels who study in lower-primary classes.
A Thodupuzha movie
'Mangalyam Thanthunanena' is the story of Roy, who is in his late 20s. He gets married and he realises that marriage is no bed of roses. Marriage is like swimming – you jump and then you understand the real depth and temperature of water. However, the movie asserts that marriage and family is very important for the well-being of society.
The movie is set in Thodupuzha (in Ernakulam district), where life is all about celebrations. Marriages are big festivals, where people celebrate every bit of the function. This movie starts with such a grant marriage. I have used a lot of colloquial phrases, usages and language in the script. So this movie is a Thodupuzha movie. Still, it has a lot to offer beyond the place where it is shot. It deals with the bond Roy shares with Clara, his newly-wed wife. It says how their families and relatives contribute to their life, happiness and troubles. It has also got a number of soothing music tracks to cherish later.
Did you watch the final cut of your movie?
I have heard that scriptwriters get annoyed or disheartened after watching the visualised version of their stories. They would have had totally different picture in their mind when they penned the story down. But I understand that this is a Soumya movie and not a Tony movie. Though the story is mine, the movie will be known as the creative product of director Soumya Sadanandan. So I chose to divorce my brainchild the moment I finished writing it. I left it for the imagination of the director and the skills of actors. I convinced myself that my property is the story, the script, and they will stay the same however the movie is made. When I finally watched the movie with my minimal expectations, I was overjoyed! It is far better than my script... (laughs.)