Siju Wilson – Vinay Forrt starrer 'Varthakal Ithuvare' is running successfully in the theaters. The movie, which revolves around the life of some policemen in the countryside, recreates the ambience and mood of Malayalam movies that were produced in 1990s.
The debutante director Manoj Nair, who has worked as a cinematographer and cameraman for several other movies, gets eloquent about his first movie.
How did you develop the passion for movies?
I had been working as a revenue management consultant in a multinational company based in UAE. I had great passion for movies and photography. When my desire to venture out in to cinematography and filmmaking intensified, I quit my job and decided to build a new career in film industry. I do read a lot. I got the confidence to take that crucial decision from the trust I have in arts.
I started my career in film industry as an assistant cameraman in the movie Indian Rupee. It was cinematographer S Kumar who introduced me to director Ranjith for the same. That movie transformed me from a film enthusiast to a movie technician. Afterwards, I worked with some pioneers in the industry. It was when I worked with director Hariharan in 'Ezhamathe Varavu' as cinematography assistant that I finally realised that filmmaking is my calling. I was also writing down a script of my own parallelly.
I took a break from cinematography, travelled and completed my script. I dreamed high about my first movie but that project got cancelled due to some issues regarding its budget. Later I came across the story of 'Varthakal Ithuvare' and took it up seriously.
What is 'Varthakal Ithuvare' about?
This movie revolves around a small theft happening in a village and the interesting sequence of incidents till policemen solves the mystery regarding it. I directed this movie out of my admiration for the movies that came out in 1990s. We are all nostalgic about 90s movies. The movies of ace directors like Sathyan Anthikkad and Priyadarshan that came in 90s are still reference points when we talk about Malayalam cinema.
Though we cannot recreate the ambiance and mood of their movies, I have attempted to create the atmosphere present in their movies. The characters in 'Varthakal Ithuvare' are inspired from the famous cartoon series by Toms, 'Bobanum Mollyum.' The character played by Pauly Valsan in this movie called Thithiri chedathi is inspired from Koondali chedathi from the same comic strip.
The story is based at a country-side. My basic thought was how to bring the rural life portrayed in Bobanum Mollyum on the silverscreen. This movie is not an investigative thriller. It captures the mindset of people when a theft takes place in their immediate surrounding. It definitely follows the investigation and unfurls the suspense regarding it but it doesn't play hard with your curiosity levels.
How did you choose the actors to perform your characters?
I had specific actors in my mind when I developed the storyline. Had Nedumudi Venu refused to perform SI Ittan Pillai, I wouldn't have proceeded with this project. Same is the case with any other actor who worked in this movie. Mamu Koya plays a role called Dracula Kumaran, who is a thief. Most characters are inspired from the comic strips and movies that came in 1990s.
I wanted someone with a very rural appearance to perform the protagonist role Vinayachandran. I didn't have to think much before casting Siju Wilson to it. I wanted a typical Malayali male to that role. Siju has internalised that character very well that he delivered a very natural performance in the movie. Vinay Forrt's character called Mathews is also an important, full-length character. Vinay literally stunned me by delivering a different type of performance from what he has done so far. He has carried out his role in a very interesting manner.
I worked with two generations of actors in this movie. The enthusiasm of young actors like Saiju Kurup and the experience of elder ones like Nedumudi Venu and Mamu Koya took me to the next level in filmmaking. Then there are some fresh faces in this movie, like the female lead Abhirami.
You have presented some cool cops in this movie. The picture of policemen shown in this movie is entirely different from the mainstream perception. Why is it so?
My brother in law is a policeman. He is a very nice person. All the policemen I have met in Kerala are cool, normal people. There is a perception that policemen and armymen are all stiff, serious people. It is wrong. I have come across very friendly policemen who crack jokes and behave like a commoner. All the policemen shown in this movie are normal government officers with all the limitations related to their job. All Keralites have a similarity in their attitude and approach towards society. Policemen are no different.
What challenges did you face in completing your maiden directorial venture?
The main problem when you direct your own movie is that, there will be many difference between what you wrote down in the script and what you actually watch on screen. Completing first movie is the biggest hurdle for any director. Many unexpected problems will rise as you proceed with your plans. What we faced was not merely a problem but a catastrophe. It was the 2018 August flood. We had to change the very formula of our movie inorder to cope up with the loss we suffered. However, I have tried my level best to make it as closer to what I had in my mind.
What do you look forward to accomplish in your filmmaking career?
I wish to direct movies that entertain the audience. I promise you that my movies will not make you ponder serious topics once you go home. You may enjoy my movies the way you would read a short story or a comic strip. I station myself in an entertainment space. I request the audience to watch 'Varthakal Ithuvare' in the theaters so that I can proceed with further directorial ventures.