Defaming a person is a grave mistake and if it's a hearing and speech impaired person who is at the receiving end, the intensity of the offence goes several notches deeper. The movie 'Vikruthi' scripted by Ajeesh P Thomas and directed by Emcy Joseph draws its subject from a similar real-life incident. Ajeesh, in a candid chat with Onmanorama, reveals the journey from adapting the incident for his script and its final portrayal on screen.
What is Vikruthi all about and how is it connected with the real-life incident?
Eldho, a hearing and speech impaired man from Angamaly, was travelling on a metro train in Kochi in June, 2017. He was returning home after a night's sleepless stay at a hospital, where his ailing brother was admitted to the intensive care unit. Fatigued, Eldho dozed off on the train. But someone, who thought that he was in an inebirated state, took his picture on mobile and shared it on social media with a caption, 'metroyil paambu' (snake in metro. Pambu, in local parlance, refers to a heavily drunk person). The picture went viral on social media and changed Eldho's life for ever. The movie, which conveys a message in connection with the misuse of social media, depicts the impact of character assassination.
What were your preparations for translating Eldho's episode into silver screen?
On June 23 2017, Malayala Manorama brought out the truth of the incident. The group's newspaper and television channel informed the public that Eldho was not drunk and he slept on the train because of fatigue. Social media took it up and many came forward to apologise. The incident struck me and I saw a film with a social message in it. The first thing I did was to meet Eldho. When I came out of Eldho's house, I saw a few people gathered outside. One man enquired what the matter was and I said I was planning to make a film on Eldho. People burst into laughter. Eldho, who is an employee of the office of head load workers welfare, had become a celebrity by then. I accompanied him when he travelled to his office. Those who derided Eldho few days ago have started looking at him with affection. By then, the thread of the story began sprouting in my mind.
The incident had become viral and skits were also made on it. What then forced you to move ahead with the project?
Many people have fallen prey to such fake stories on social media. I felt that drawing inspiration straight from Eldho's incident wouldn't serve the purpose. So I met him repeatedly. His eyes welled up whenever I asked him about the incident. It was his eldest son Basil, who spoke for his hearing and speech impaired parents. When I witnessed Basil's agony and angst I felt there was a different angle to the story. I decided that this shouldn't be the story of Eldho alone. It's a known story. There is another story in it. I tried to unearth it and then weaving a few characters and incidents from imagination I started making a new story out of it, which you can see in the movie. Vikruthi has both villain and hero who are present in each one of us.
This is your second script. How confident were you on making this into a film?
I didn't find any issues in finding director and producer. I first narrated the story to my friend Emcy Joseph, who was there in the creative field for quite sometime. He has been planning to direct a film for a long time. He liked the story at once. After that we had to tell the story to only one production banner. The producers, AD Sreekumar, Ganesh Menon and Lakshmi Warrier of the banner Cut 2 Create Pictures decided to make 'Vikruthi' their first venture after they heard the story.
On roping in ace actors to portray the powerful characters in the film...
Suraj Venjaramoodu and Soubin Shahir shook my hands after I narrated them the story. At every stage of scripting, the two actors encouraged me in identifying potentials of newer situations and characterisation. While Soubin communicated ideas about the deeper possibilities of Suraj's character, the latter ensured that Soubin's character remained more and more entertaining. While imagining the character of a family man, it was the name of Suraj Venjaramoodu who struck me first and while thinking of an ordinary youth none other than Soubin appeared in mind. Surabhi Lakshmi and Vincy who were the lead female characters, along with all those in the support cast performed exceedingly well in the film.