Movies like 'Baahubali' have inspired me to do mass film: Syam Pushkaran

Syam Pushkaran
Syam Pushkaran. Photo: Manorama

The Malayali moviegoers have become so familiar with the name Syam Pushkaran that they wouldn’t hesitate to buy tickets if the title card says his name. Interestingly, he is one of the few screenwriters in Malayalam cinema who is able to draw crowds to the theatres. After a gap, the award-winning writer is back with ‘Thankam’ which is slated to hit the theatres on January 26.

What are your hopes for ‘Thankam’?

The story of ‘Thankam’ has been in my mind for quite some time. We had planned to do this movie before the pandemic broke out. We waited until the pandemic subsided as we had to shoot for over ninety days in multiple locations. ‘Thankam’ is the biggest movie that I have written for our production house.

Why did you rope in Vineeth Sreenivasan and Biju Menon for ‘Thankam’?

I wrote the movie with Vineeth in mind. I thought that Vineeth could pull off the character that speaks Tamil fluently. Meanwhile, Vineeth got busy with the filming of ‘Hridayam’. So, at one point we had contemplated casting Fahadh instead of Vineeth. But, we came back to Vineeth as the filming of this movie got delayed due to the pandemic. I had always wished to do a movie with Biju chettan. It is only now that a character that suits him came up.

You are introducing another new director?

Saheed had worked in a movie titled ‘Ringtone’ that I too had associated with in the early days. We know each other since then. You cannot call Saheed a newcomer. He had directed a movie called ‘Theeram’. He was there in ‘Joji’ too. It was Saheed who came up with the main thread of ‘Thankam’.

Tamil filmmaker Vetrimaran said that Malayalam is probably the only film industry that acknowledges the efforts of a writer

It may be true. Our rich literary tradition may be the reason for that. Eminent writers like MT Vasudevan Nair, Lohitadas, Dennis Joseph and Sreenivasan are part of our industry. It must be that tradition and cultural heritage that earned a unique space for the writers in our cinema industry.

Syam Pushkaran is known as the face of realistic cinema

The truth is that I have grown weary of that title. After I watched ‘Baahubali’ and ‘Bheeshmaparvam’, I had wished to do a mass, commercial entertainer. ‘Thankam’ is my first step towards that. You could expect such a mass movie after ‘Thankam’. Discussions with Dileesh Pothen are underway. The movie will be announced soon.

Didn’t you plan to do a movie with Shah Rukh Khan?

That project is still on. When you are doing a movie with a huge star like Shah Rukh Khan, then you have to dedicate two or three years for that. I plan to meet him again after the script is completed. He is someone who notices South Indian movies.

Can we soon expect a film that is directed by you?

You could soon expect that. I began my career as an assistant director. I entered the cinema industry with a dream to become a filmmaker. It got delayed as I feel lazy to write the movie by myself. Meanwhile, I am working out a few ideas.

Cinema within cinema was discussed in movies like ‘Salt n Pepper’ and ‘Mayaanadhi’?

The audience clearly knows what happens in the cinema industry. They no longer believe cinema to be a magical land. I wish to make them realise that anyone could make it big in the movies if they try. I did Syam Pushkaran diaries as part of that initiative.

Do you think the film industry has intervened properly in the ongoing issue at the KR Narayanan Film Institute?

I believe that the students have been receiving amazing support from the film industry. The cinema associations may not be able to swiftly respond since they have their own ways and guidelines. It may be practically difficult for them to take a hasty decision.

In Tamil, Lokesh Kanakaraj is introducing his LCU Universe. Is there any scope for such cinematic universes in Malayalam cinema?

I am amused by the concept of cinematic universes. It seems like a huge process. Currently, I have no plans to introduce such universes as it is not possible to try different ‘universes’ in each movie.

Do you think you are being confined to Aashiq Abu – Dileesh Pothen team?

It is not intentional. We often discuss our stories with the people who are close to us. ‘Maheshinte Prathikaram’ was based on a story that I had told Dileesh years ago, for a short film. So, he would be involved when that story becomes a feature film. Similarly, many stories were developed from the discussions that we had together. Usually, I don’t have a script ready at hand. It is not right to approach directors without a finished script. I don’t intentionally stay away from working with others. Last year, I discussed a story with Basil Joseph.

Can we expect a movie with the superstars?

Yes, you could surely expect that. More than superstars, they are just incredible actors. There is no point in being alive now if we do not take advantage of their acting prowess. I have plans to do movies with them in the next two years. The writing jobs and the discussions of those movies are still progressing. 

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