Actor-director Madhupal has a sound reason behind directing his latest flick ‘Oru Kuprasiddha Payyan.’ After his brief outing in the portmanteau film ‘Crossroad’ (2017) alongside stalwarts like Lenin Rajendran, Madhupal said he had tossed around different social issues in his mind for his next, full-fledged feature film. The artiste then stumbled upon the issues migrant laborers face in contemporary Keralite society. He was also disturbed by the hike in the number of murders. What if a random migrant citizen is killed and the charge is imposed on a youngster who has minimal but colorful dreams about his life? How does a crime allegation, especially a murder, bring about changes in the attitude of one’s kith and kin? ‘Oru Kuprasiddha Payyan’ is the filmmaker’s attempt to explore the politics of solitude, migration, murder and consequent changes in the society with the help of his writer-friend Jeevan Job Thomas. In a freewheeling chat with Onmanorama, Madhupal decodes his latest movie which is already running successfully in the theaters.
How did you zero in on ‘Oru Kuprasiddha Payyan’ after ‘Crossroad?’
Both of my earlier movies, ‘Thalappaavu’ and ‘Ozhimuri’ narrate incidents of the past. ‘Oru Kuprasiddha Payyan,’ on the other hand, is a contemporary movie. It discusses the social reality of the present. I had wondered how this society would adjust itself when a murder disturbs its free, undisturbed flow. When a destitute gets into trouble, there comes someone to rescue, love and embrace him. It happens in the case of Ajayan, my protagonist. The main thing that fascinated me was how our executive, judiciary and the society as a whole conspire to turn a youngster into a criminal looking at his circumstances. The transformation of a normal youngster into a criminal is an unparalleled process. The chronology of events in this movie derives from an investigation of this transformation.
Location and its cultural premise hold a special place in both ‘Thalappaavu’ and ‘Ozhimuri.’ How does Vaikom turn out to be a character in ‘Payyan?’
Vaikom is an unexplored land when it comes to filmmaking. I wanted a suburb for ‘Payyan’ to set foot in. I wanted my location to have the complexities of a city-space along with the rustic nature of a village. There are some exclusive social bonds found in Vaikom. It was in Prem Nazir’s era that a movie was shot at Vaikom last. This movie covers a time-span of around two years. To recognize the changes that happen to a town in a period of two years and to make the passage of time convincing for the audience were two major challenges we faced while crafting the screenplay.
‘Oru Kuprasiddha Payyan’ traverses through the realities of the present. The politics, execution and judgment of this movie have strong ties with the present social reality. Directing a movie about the present is harder than narrating the past. The instances shown in this movie will hook the audience and connect with their own experiences.
Why did you cast Tovino Thomas, Nimisha Sajayan and Anu Sitara in the lead roles?
It was in 2015 we decided that Tovino Thomas is the best choice for Ajayan. Tovino had just completed the shoot schedules of ‘Oru Mexican Apaaratha’ when I discussed the script of ‘Oru Kuprasiddha Payyan’ with him. I have my reasons for casting Tovino in the lead role. Ajayan is quite unpredictable a character, like Tovino himself. He looks diffident in one scene, determined in the next and panicked in the third. Everything about Ajayan is uncertain, right from his birth. Such an unexplored mind-terrain of a character offers boundless opportunities for the lead actor to perform and unleash his talent. I knew that Tovino would grace this character with the multiple shades of his acting talent.
Moreover, after Nedumudi Venu was roped in to this project, the first thing he asked me was ‘who is playing Ajayan?’ He warned me that the lead actor should be chosen wisely because Ajayan was so volatile a character that the entire mood of the movie would fluctuate with his performance. I said Tovino Thomas’s name and it was a warm smile that I got back from Nedumudi. “That’s a nice selection. I have good expectations about this project now,” he said. Nedumudi Venu was more or less sure about Tovino’s ability to enact Ajayan. I consider Nedumudi’s words as recognition for Tovino’s acting skills as well as my acting skills as a filmmaker.
It was after watching ‘Thondimuthalum Driksaakshiyum’ that I approached Nimisha Sajayan with Advocate Hannah’s character. She did justice to her character. Hannah Elizabeth is similar to Nimisha’s real-life character in many ways. Nimisha is a venturing, ambitious girl who dreams high about her career. Same is the case with Hannah. Every character in this movie is a protagonist because it is each of their fight for truth and justice. Anu Sitara also plays a very distinctive character, which is first-of-its-kind in her career.