Apparently, during the post-production work of ‘Minnal Murali’ director Basil Joseph was chased by dogs twice. The pets belonged to music director Sushin Shyam and sound designer Nixon. Basil admits that he shares a pathetic relationship with animals. But look at the irony! In his latest film, ‘Palthu Janwar’ he has to share maximum screen space with animals. In fact, his first scene in the film was with a police dog; a German shepherd.
While taking the shot, Basil and the dog started into each other's eyes for quite some time. And the trainer cautioned him - “Don’t look too much into its eyes, if it detects anything mischievous inside you, it may bite.” And somehow the shot was done. He also had to interact closely with cats, dogs, pigs, and cows during the shoot.
Tell us about 'Palthu Janvar'…
In the film, there are cows, goats, chickens and elephants. You can find a lot of animals in the film. And that is the highlight of the film. I play the role of a Livestock inspector who is a grade below veterinary doctor. He is someone who has reluctantly shifted from city to village for work. The film revolves around the issues he encounters at his new workplace. This comedy-drama also deals with the challenges faced by someone who isn’t fond of animals. But then the character doesn't end the way he begins.
How did the role come to you?
I got the call from Bhavana Studio before the release of 'Jaaneman' and 'Minnal Murali'. I immediately said yes when the team called me.
Director Basil Joseph is acting in a film directed by a newcomer. How does that feel?
Sangeeth has worked with director Amal Neerad. He is a calm, soft-spoken man with a lot of clarity about what he wants. Aneesh Anjali and Vinay Thomas are the writers. Then there was Kiran Das’s editing and Justin Varghese’s trendy music. The film had a good team.
This is yet another full-fledged comedy role after Jaaneman. Looks like the audience would rather watch you laugh and make others laugh.
Though the film is a full-length comedy, my character isn’t comical. The situations create humour. If the hero’s stupidities and comical moments are there in 'Jaaneman', in this film it is the situations and other characters that evoke comedy.
Off late you are also attempting serious characters…
That perhaps shows my evolution as an actor. I have mostly got comedy characters. My characters can be summed up in a line. And then gradually I started getting more layered characters. This change happened post 'Joji'. It was after seeing my performance as the priest in the film that many people started seeing the actor in me from a different angle. Till then I also didn’t take acting seriously. Direction was always my priority. Though I am fond of acting, if I am simultaneously offered an opportunity to act or direct, I would pick direction.
But then though you acted in 24 films and have only directed 3 so far…
Acting takes less strain than direction. All that is required is to listen to the story and then act. And the time we invest is also very less. But direction isn’t like that. I have acted during the middle of directing a film as well as while waiting for the dates of other actors. I would rather focus on making good films than do a lot of films. And having a parallel acting career helps in stabilizing my finances. That has helped in giving more time while directing a film, without compromising on its quality.
Can we expect 'Minnal Murali' part 2?
Though I haven’t decided on a date or time, I would like to do it. I think it will happen when a lot of factors come together. Now the audience will expect a film that is superior to the first one. I don’t want to do a film just for the sake of doing one. It should be done correctly with a lot of effort and with the thought of making a good product. I will be starting work for that soon.