Shaji Kailas is excited to return to Malayalam after eight years with ‘Kaduva’

Shaji Kailas
Shaji Kailas (R) with Prithviraj on the sets of the film Kaduva

These days, veteran filmmaker Shaji Kailas often gets the question whether screen icon Mohanlal would appear alongside Prithviraj in his upcoming movie ‘Kaduva’. The fans are eager to know whether they would get a chance to see two of their favourite stars together on screen again. However, Shaji confesses that Mohanlal does not appear in ‘Kaduva’ even though he had wished for it. The crew has been able to complete ‘Kaduva’ amid lots of struggles and crises. The Covid – 19 outbreak, the landslips, mega floods and the legal tussle were some of them. It took almost two years to complete the filming of ‘Kaduva’. Interestingly, it would be Shaji’s forty-fourth outing as a leading filmmaker in the Malayalam cinema industry.

You are returning after a break. What do you feel?

It is almost after eight years that a movie directed by me is getting released in Malayalam. ‘Ginger’ and ‘Madirasi’ that I last took were comedies. However, the audience decided that Shaji Kailas shouldn’t take comedy movies. My wait for a good story lasted for years. Meanwhile, I did three films in Tamil. Someone else was supposed to direct the story of Kaduva. A person then sued us by saying that the movie is based on his life. This film’s story has got nothing to do with anyone’s life. It was the court and the lawyers who watched the movie as soon as the filming got completed.

Does your ‘Kaduva’ fight against the odds?

We were shooting in Kochi; actor Nandu wanted to go to Coimbatore on the next day. During those days, you could enter Tamil Nadu only with a negative Covid 19 test. Kalabhavan Shajohn too had given his sample. When the results came, Nandu was alright but Shajohn had tested positive. We immediately stopped the filming and went into quarantine. Stunt experts had been on the sets to shoot a huge fight sequence. Many of them left even without letting us know. We had shot at Mundakkayam when there were rules that a shooting set shouldn’t have more than 50 crew members at a time. Even though there were 100 junior artists, 50 of them were asked to remain at a different spot. But someone clicked the picture of the crowd and sent a complaint to the district collector. Then the police came to arrest us. We immediately contacted Chief Minister’s office for help. The authorities agreed to avoid detaining us when we promised to stop shooting immediately. After that, the area suffered severe floods and landslips. The set that we had built near the hero’s house had collapsed. The roads were destroyed. Besides, the three waves of the pandemic severely affected the filming. There aren’t any gimmicks in ‘Kaduva’. We have tried to narrate a story amazingly in 2 hours 35 minutes.

Who is ‘Kaduva’?

Vivek Oberoi is the Kaduva. This is the story of how two natives of Pala who also belong to the same parish fight for power. While Prithviraj essays the role of the young planter Kuruvachan Vivek Oberoi plays Joseph Chandy, an IPS officer. Prithviraj’s performance in the stunt scenes are amazing. I could see the same energy that I had seen in Mohanlal’s fight scenes, in Prithviraj too.

Will you take a hiatus after this movie?

‘Alone’ starring only Mohanlal will be released in August. My next directorial venture will be ‘Kapa’ starring Prithviraj in the lead role. GR Indugopan pens the script for the movie that goes on the floors next month. 

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