'Aarattu' set was always on festive mode: Interview with Swasika Vijay

Swasika Vijay
Actress Swasika Vijay with director B Unnikrishnan

She is the darling of the family audience. An actress who is active in both daily soaps and films, she has already made her mark in other language films and serials as well. In the recently released ‘Aarattu’ directed by B Unnikrishnan, she is playing an important role. Swasika considers it her fortune to be part of two picturesque song sequences as well as savour the beauty of the stately Varikkasheri Mana. The actress talks about ‘Aarattu’ to Manorama online.

It was scriptwriter Udayakrishna who informed me that they were planning a film with Mohanlal titled ‘Aarattu’ directed by B Unnikrishnan and that I had an important role in it. This was the time when the shooting had restarted after the lockdown. I have been sitting at home for a year during the Covid time. Perhaps ‘Aarattu’ was the first big-budget film that began shooting with such a huge lineup of actors after Covid.

“This is a big-budget film with a lot of actors, and I don’t know if it is right to call an award-winning actress like you for a small role. Mohanlal, Unnikrishnan and I are coming together for this film. This will be a colourful festive film and as well as a good opportunity for you” ---this was what Udayakrishna told me. Since I couldn’t imagine declining a Mohanlal film, I immediately gave him my nod. They picturised the Koythu pattu (a song n dance in the backdrop of paddy fields) first. Both the Koythu pattu and Vishu pattu picturizations beautifully captured the beauty of Palakkad. They were quintessentially Kerala songs, and I was told that I would be featured in both songs.

Neyyattinkara Gopan is really fond of Balettan’s family. Me and Malavika Menon played Balettan’s daughters. Indrans chettan played Balettan’s role. Neyyattinkara Gopan enters our life as a saviour and promises to rescue us from our financial mess. Though we don’t have many scenes in the film, we are constantly mentioned throughout the narrative. And we also got the opportunity to dance in two beautifully picturised song sequences.

Varikkasheri Mana situated at Ottappalam can be described as Malayalam cinema’s Tharavadu. The mana is that much ingrained in people’s hearts. So many popular films like ‘Devasuram’, ‘Aaram Thampuran’, ‘Raavanaprabhu’, ‘Raapakal’, ‘Narasimham’, ‘Chandrolsavam’, ‘Valyettan’, ‘Bus Conductor’, ‘Drona’, ‘Madambi’ etc. were shot at this location, and I consider myself fortunate to finally experience the beauty of this Mana in its full glory. This was my first visit to the Mana.

As you walk through the interiors and exteriors of the mana you get images of many iconic film scenes. We were all in a picnic mood. And we had the opportunity to act with a legend like Nedumudi Venu and also Pradeep chettan. I also managed to dance my heart out with Lalettan. So ‘Aarattu’ was memorable that way.

I have acted with Lalettan in ‘Ittimani.’ Also, this was directed by a hitmaker like B Unnikrishnan and a superhit scriptwriter like Udayakrishna and I was collaborating with them for the first time. I was able to be part of such a great team after covid. The responses to the film are mixed. A lot of people said they were able to enjoy a movie with their family after a long time. Besides, it’s been a long time since such a Lalettan film has hit the theatres.

‘Aarattu’ is also getting a lot of negative reviews. Unnikrishnan sir has stated in several interviews that ‘Aarattu' is meant for the ordinary audience. I think ‘Aarattu’ was only meant to bring the crowd back into theatres as well as an out and out entertaining mass masala cinema. It’s a fun film that projects brand Mohanlal, filled with a lot of songs, dances, fights, punch dialogues and spoofs.

It's a beautifully shot film. I think families are loving the film. Different strokes for different people. So can’t expect a film to be loved by all. We are trying to take all the negative comments in the right spirit.

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