'Avasa Vyooham' - an Arbit documentation of an amphibian hunt, the award-winning film directed by Krishand R K was a unique and fresh experience for the viewers. The film, which intertwined fantasy and politics drifting from the usual narrative, has bagged many honours including the state award for Best Film.
Rahul Rajagopal, who plays the protagonist in the movie, presented an amazing transformation from a human to an amphibian. Rahul, who is popular for his ‘Karikku’ series, debuted in acting through Krishand’s short film.
Later, he gained ground through the Karikku web series and Krishand’s movie ‘Vrithakrithiyilulla Chathuram’, and ‘Ulsaaha Ithihaasam’, another web series. Rahul, who is passionate about becoming a part of good films, is a civil engineer.
Actor Rahul Rajagopal speaks to Manorama Online with the titbits on 'Avasa Vyooham' which has amazed the audiences.
On how he landed in the 'Avaasa Vyooham' project... A few years ago, Krishand had written a blog titled ‘Mermaids in Kochi’. He has been behind this story for some time now. If I remember right, in 2018, Krishand had told me about how the Olive Ridley turtles returned to the sea and how the snails came from Burma.
After his B Tech, Krishand had done his Master of Design at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Mumbai. He is also a faculty there.
“Krishand and cinematographer Vishnu Prabhakar had researched a lot on these subjects. They had also shot many footages on these. It was much later that he told me this would be the first story that he will be working on.
At first, I wondered how this could be developed into a cinema. Later on, he told me about the character named Joy, and a revenge drama following the marriage of a girl in Azhikkod. Initially, I was under the impression that these are two different subjects for two cinemas. I did not get any clue even after reading the script,” says Rahul.
“We had shot a few parts before Covid hit. It was when I watched these scenes that I understood the narration technique of this film. That is the most striking speciality of the film – the narrative.
When Covid hit the whole world, it slowly seeped into the story too. 'Avasa Vyooham' is a film that underwent a gradual transformation over four years. The character Joy represents the environment itself. The environment does let humans exploit it and sometimes hits back vigorously. Though we don’t go deep into the philosophy of the film, there is something to attract all types of viewers; a usual revenge story, humour everything. While discussing on serious subjects, the scientific aspects of the same are presented through humour. It can be enjoyed by all kinds of viewers. Just that the narrative is fresh and unfamiliar,” he added.
The ‘amphibian Joy’
During the initial rounds of discussion, while developing this character, we had thought of presenting Joy as a merman (the male version of a mermaid). We have heard stories of spotting a merman here and there. On thinking deeper, we found that it would be too difficult to present the character. The frog man concept came into the story thereafter.
At first, I was told to do the character named Murali in the film. When the person who was cast as Joy could not reach, Krishand said that I could do it. When they visited Puthuvyppin, they had seen a man with a shaved head. They showed me that man’s picture. That is how it was decided to shave the head for the look.
Krishand’s wife did the art and costume for the film. When the shoot started, we were confused about how to go about it. Then we thought we could approach it as a little child approaching something new. Everything fell in place easily thereafter. Physically, it was very demanding though. There were a few practical difficulties in doing the climax scenes.
24 hours without drinking water
As per the schedule chart, two days were demarcated to shoot the climax. Two units were involved in the shooting. On day 1, the portions of everybody else were shot. The next day, at 5 am, my make-up started. It was 11 am by the time it was complete and we started shooting immediately. Within 24 hours, my portion was completed. I had prosthetics on my legs and hands. It cannot be removed and re-worn, as it would tear off. It was very difficult to sit with the prosthetics on. With my legs and hands in such a state, I was not in a position to use the toilet. If I drank water, I will have to urinate. So I avoided drinking water. Everybody around me made it a point to support me and make me comfortable. I could do it only with their support.
Didn't expect the awards
We never expected that the film would get so many honours when we started filming Avasa Vyooham. Krishand had become too overwhelmed and emotional that at one point, he even said, he can’t do it anymore. Then, we showed the first 40 minutes to a few people and their response was positive. As they all said it was interesting, we together decided to go all out and finish the film.
We did not expect any of the honours that the film gets now. We are too happy about the positive responses, after the release. We only tried to realise an idea. We did not give much thought to whether the viewers would accept it or not.
The film received an amazing reception when it was screened at the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) and we were overwhelmed with joy.
We had bagged the awards for the Best Film and the Best Script at the IFFK. However, during the festival screening, only a few watched it. We were quite a bit nervous about how it would be accepted by the audience after the theatrical release. Now, that is all gone; we are very happy that it has been received well by all.
Into the viewers’ hearts through ‘Karikku’
I acted in ‘Bhagavathikkavile Papikal’, a short film directed by Krishand Ettan (brother) in 2014 which reached the Cannes Short Film corner. During my college times also, I had acted in a few short films made by friends. Then, I worked in ‘Ulsaha Ithihasam’, a web series directed by Krishand Ettan. That series grabbed the Best Dramedy award at the Seoul Web fest in South Korea. We went to Seoul then. It was there that we started shooting the first feature film - ‘Vrithakrithiyilulla chathuram’ - that was my first film. Ajmal Abdulla bagged the honour for the best background music for that film in 2019.
It was much later that we arrived at the ‘Avasa Vyooham’ project. At that time, my head was shaven and I had got a call from the Karikku crew asking if I could work on a web series. They are my friends. That is how I became part of the very popular Karikku series. Thereafter, I acted in many series of Karikku. ‘Karikku’ made me popular among the public.
Civil engineering to cinema
I did my B Tech in civil engineering from Kollam TKM college and also completed MBA from Rajagiri College. I had worked with HDFC Limited for about 4 years before I came into acting. My aim is to be a part of good cinema. Besides acting, I do construction business.
I have done a role in Mohanlal sir’s movie titled 'Monster'. I played a major role in a film produced by KSFDC, for which the shoot is over. Two series of Karikku are to be released soon. I would work along with Krishand as his assistant director in the next film, which is to hit the ground running soon. I would be also doing a small role in the film.