Ever since young filmmaker Basil Joseph had announced his next directorial outing Minnal Murali, Kerala has been eagerly awaiting its own indigenous superhero. Until then, we only knew Spider Man, Super Man and Iron Man from some of the blockbuster superhero franchises in Hollywood. Minnal Murali, a pan Indian production that would be released in 5 languages, is bankrolled by Sophia Paul for the Weekend Blockbusters. Meanwhile, the film had been in the news for a number of reasons. It took 111 days to complete the filming as the shooting got stalled twice due to the pandemic restrictions. Besides, the movie attracted wide media attention when its set was vandalized by a group of miscreants. But, Minnal Murali, having survived all the hurdles, would soon be released through the OTT giant Netflix. In a candid chat, Basil Joseph opens up about his experiences of filming the most ambitious project in his career.
Mallu super hero
“The super heroes that we have seen until now are from mega budgeted movies that are made by Marvel and the DC. Minnal Murali was born out of an idea to create an indigenous superhero that is unlike the ones that we have already seen. It was equally a challenge and a thrilling experience to narrate the story of a superhero, that too, by staying within the limits of the budget. This is a superhero movie that takes place in and around our locality. We have tried to make Minnal Murali a complete movie, even if we take the superhero element out of it,” notes Basil.
The ‘super villain’
Godha was Basil’s last outing as a director. After that, he proved his mettle as an actor playing interesting roles in some super hit movies. Covid 19 made an entry as an unsavory villain when Basil had begun his next directorial venture on a big budget. The filming got stalled and the important portions were yet to be shot. Basil admits it was a period of stress and tension. After the first lockdown, the crew had filmed all the significant sequences including the climax. However, the entire crew tested positive for Covid 19 when there was only 3 days more to complete the filming. By the time they recovered, Kerala saw a meteoric rise in the Covid 19 cases and the state went into second lockdown. After a long break, it was only recently that Basil and his team could finally wrap up the movie.
Trained fight masters from abroad were hired to choreograph the thrilling action sequences in the movie. It was difficult making sure that they reached here alright and that the pandemic protocols were strictly followed. Besides, huge crowds were required in some of the scenes. Basil says that he didn’t compromise on the quality of the movie even during testing times like this.
“Two persons who were with us in the beginning of the movie had bid adieu. Writer and director P Balachandran sir and Achankunju, an actor from Wayanad had passed away while we were still shooting. The dubbing for their portions weren’t completed when they left us. Moreover, Tovino too had an accident. I haven’t done a movie that had gone through so many struggles and challenges, in my career. Despite all these, the producer has been supporting us for the last three years as they have great faith in this movie,” says Basil.
Basil says that he could use the multiple getups of Tovino due to the Covid induced breaks. “After each schedule, there were long breaks. Tovino had grown beard and hair; he put on weight and then slimmed down too. So, I got his multiple getups and it really helped the movie. We had planned to film the movie in Kerala. However, the sets that we built on Aluva Manappuram were vandalized and had to shift the filming to Karnataka. But, the shift proved to be beneficial for us. We got an amazing location and setting to shoot the climax,” says the filmmaker.
In his previous movies, Basil had done the VFX works only after completing the filming. However, in Minnal Murali, VFX scripting was done along with the movie’s script in the initial stage itself. The filming began after doing extensive pre production works including pre visualization, story board and animatix. Andrew Dcruz of the Mindstein Studios was the VFX supervisor. Moreover, VFX artists were on the sets during the filming too. Basil says that it had greatly helped the quality of the film. He adds that the crew had tried to do VFX by staying within the premises of the theme.
Direction or acting?
“I am more interested in directing. It is very exciting and challenging too. The steering of the movie would be in our hands. It is us who decides the nuances of the movie and the direction in which it goes. Also, I really like acting too,” Basil says with a smile.