‘Superhero’ Basil Joseph is reaching for the stars in style | Interview

Basil Joseph
'Happy and anxious as the long journey of 'Minnal Murali' has finally culminated', says director Basil Joseph.

Midas would probably pale before Malayalam director and actor Basil Joseph as he is turning everything into gold and 2021 is indeed a cracking year for him. While quirky comedy movie ‘Jan.E.Man’, in which Basil plays the lead role, is setting the box office ringing, his third directorial venture ‘Minnal Murali’ is the talk of the town. Basil started to actively don the greasepaint after directing his second flick ‘Godha’. But Basil confesses that the happiness one derives from helming a movie is nonpareil. In a free-wheeling chat, Basil talks about his movies and much more.

Joji’ made me dead serious

Three years’ effort went into the making of ‘Minnal Murali’, which tells the story of a man who gets superpowers after lightning strikes his village, before it had hit the OTT (over-the-top) platform. We are both happy and anxious as the long journey has finally culminated. I am also excited about the success of ‘Jan.E.Man’. It is noteworthy that the experience of associating with ‘Joji’ movie made me a better actor. Film’s director Dileesh Pothan and writer Shyam Pushkaran might have picked me for the pastor’s role in the movie as my dad Joseph Pallippattu is a priest. First I thought that the priest’s role was laced with humour but later I realized that the character had a serious tone to it.

Houses became theaters

People of Wayanad, my home town, are super excited. There were multiple bottlenecks while canning Tovino Thomas-starrer ‘Minnal Murali’ and one stumbling block was the COVID-19 pandemic besides other unexpected issues. But my friends, family members and people of my hometown stood by me in the hour of crisis. For close to two to three years, everyone was asking about the status of ‘Minnal Murali’ and it was a long wait for my friends, family members, relatives and residents of Wayanad. Many of my family members and friends bought TVs with large screens and additional speakers to watch ‘Minnal Murali’ on OTT platform. My dad had put in place a home theatre in my house to ensure best viewing experience for my relatives and neighbours. My father never discussed with me his plans and he did everything for the love for my movie.

Tovino, my best buddy

It is indeed a great feeling to have your best friend as the hero of the film. One quality of Tovino that is worth noting is his punctuality. He will come to the sets on time and if any case he is late by 30 minutes, I also have the freedom to take him to task. Our deep friendship augured well for the making of ‘Minnal Murali’. I knew pretty well that Tovino can essay a humour role with great distinction. He is also at ease in giving a humour touch through his body language. When a superhero is on screen, the audience should get a feel of the enormity of the super-human character. And Tovino was a complete package apposite for the role.

Favourite superheroes

My all-time favourite superhero is undoubtedly Spiderman and I used to watch all the movies of actor Tobey Maguire. And then there is our own ‘My Dear Kuttichathan’ and I don’t know whether ‘kuttichathan’ will come under the category of superheroes. Even now this Malayalam movie is a wonder for me.

Kurukkanmoola and Desom

I never thought that fictitious places such as Kurukkanmoola and Desom would become a bit of a cult among movie buffs. When I did the first movie ‘Kunjiramayanam’, I just created these fictitious villages for fun. The Kurukkanmoola village has cropped up in ‘Godha’ film and now in ‘Minnal Murali’. The ‘Salsa’ brand of liquor of ‘Kunjiramayanam’ movie is also the favourite booze of ‘Minnal’ Murali too. Kurukkanmoola has its own vehicle number plates, registration and TV channel too – K M News. If people love ‘Minnal Murali’, I will definitely make the second part of the flick as the movie ends by opening doors for such an opportunity.

Minnal’ Basil

Lightning is something ubiquitous whether it is in Kurukkanmoola or Utopia and the audience can relate to it without much difficulty. Moreover, lightning is a great source of energy and no elixir can match it. Spiders are everywhere and that’s the reason why superhero Spiderman became universal. The same is the case with lightning and people watching ‘Minnal Murali’ would get a feeling that something extraordinary would happen through lightning. Lightning is very much global and the film rides on the fantasy and nostalgia of the bolt from the sky. 

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