RDX's success was unexpected: Director Nahas Hidayath

Nahas Hidayath
Nahas Hidayath, RDX team. Photo: Instagram/Nahas Hidayath

During his college days, Nahas Hidayath grappled with the belief that he lacked the talents typically associated with popularity on campus. Despite having worked on several music albums, he didn't consider himself proficient in singing, dancing, or public speaking. It was during this uncertain phase that his professor, Reji Varghese Mekkadan, watched his music videos and boldly predicted that Nahas had a promising future in this field. Today, that very student has successfully made his mark in Malayalam cinema with 'RDX'. In a recent conversation with the director, he candidly shared that his journey to this achievement was far from a smooth ride.

This has been an 8-year-old wait for you. It came without much noise and is today the Onam winner. Tell us about your journey.
I didn’t make this film with the thought of making an action film. The film contains the exact number of fights required for the story. Then and now, there was only one thread— “You mess with our family, and we won’t spare you.” Back then there was a family audience for superstar’s action films. So I wanted 'RDX' to be accepted by the family audience. But for that, you need a strong screenplay. The audience should feel that the villains deserve to be thrashed. I believe we achieved that. There are 6 fight scenes in the film. Am happy to see that the film was accepted by the family and youth equally.

There were two scriptwriters onboard. Perhaps to blend logic and mass. Tell us more about the collaboration of Adarsh Sukumaran and Shabash Rashid.
Adarsh acted in my film, ‘Aaravam.’ And I know Shabash also pretty well. Adarsh can correctly predict the theatre reactions, what excites the crowd, and such things. While Shabash thinks only logically. You can’t simply make a mass film with fights alone. So they were inevitable to bring together mass and logic.

Two eras are being shown in the film. How was the shooting?
We didn’t have the budget to put up a set. A large sum had to be kept aside for Anbarivu masters. So except for the carnival portions, the rest were all shot in real locations. We picked roads and places that hadn’t been majorly modernized and shot there. VFX was used to remove flex boards, masks, and CCTV. The costumes were designed by Dhanya Balakrishnan. Our brief was to use inexpensive costumes and that the audience should be able to easily differentiate between the two eras. She did that beautifully.

Anbarivu is a brand. What were their first reactions to the story?
We first spoke to their manager. Since it is a Malayalam film, they will first talk about the budget. We went to meet them with the assurance that everything would be done on the sets. They (Anbumani, and Arivumani) were busy with ‘Leo’ and ‘Salaar’. Though usually a one-liner would do, I narrated the entire story to them. I told them that I wanted fights which had no references from old films. Though we didn’t get all the dates, they personally supervised two fights for us. For the rest, stunt masters from their team came.

The three main leads have equal importance. Was it difficult to cast the actors?
We did think of many names. Finally, we decided on Pepe, Shane, and Neeraj. Pepe was the first who came on board. Shane came later. Neeraj was the last to join and I think it is a role he has never done before.

You started as an AD in 'Godha'. How did you reach Basil’s team?
I was a movie fanatic from childhood. I shifted to Ernakulam from Kanjirapally under the pretext that I was doing a course. That ‘course’ was at a juice shop. I worked there for a year and a half. That’s where I met Ganesh Raj, who was assisting Vineeth Sreenivasan. Through him, I got in touch with Basil.

Tell us about 'Aaravam'.
It was a campus mass entertainer. Pepe was the hero. But within a few days of the shooting, the lockdown was announced. But then it came to a point when we had to cut costs and do a small film. So that project was shelved. My father died last year. My mother is the happiest right now. 

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