I Wanted to Re-Introduce Nivin Pauly in Malayalee From India: Dijo Jose Antony

"When we narrated the script to Nivin, I could see him laughing at each scene with a childlike glee. So I understood it was working for him as a comedy."
Dijo Jose Antony
Dijo Jose Antony

Dijo Jose Anthony is one among the successful directors to have emerged out of the new wave of mainstream Malayalam cinema. The director, in addition to his work behind the camera, is known for his penchant for innovative marketing strategies for his films like Jana Gana Mana (2022) and his latest directorial effort Malayalee From India (2024). The promotional videos featuring himself and the star of the film Nivin Pauly, have been going viral on social media for their cheeky chemistry and banter. Malayalee From India had been promoted as a unhinged comedy by the makers, but the recent teaser suggests a more seriously-toned thriller that features the journey of a common man, pitted against the system.

Written by Sharis Mohammed, the film also stars Anaswara Rajan, Dhyan Sreenivasan, Manju Pillai and Salim Kumar among others. “This is the first time that I am getting this much time to promote a film. Be it Queen (2018) or Jana Gana Mana, I was running around in the final days for their patch works. Since Malayalee From India already had a release date announced, we were able to set aside time for promotional content.”

Dijo recalls how he got associated with the film. "Sharis Mohammed, my writer, had other plans with this story initially and I was not in the picture. But one day he narrated this kernel of an idea to me and I latched onto it. He was reluctant in telling me the idea initially because our first two films had the affectations of courtroom dramas and he thought I might not like another kind of film. I did not want to repeat myself in any way and this sounded suitable for my sensibility as a filmmaker. And then Nivin Pauly came on board and everything worked out for us.”

A poster of Malayalee From India
A poster of Malayalee From India

Dijo also addresses the process of making an out-and-out comedy for the first time in his career. “For that I have to thank Nivin Pauly. Once this film releases, I will be able to better illustrate with examples as to how his performances make stuff inherently funny. The way Nivin approached certain scenes and line readings made me laugh on set every time. I had all these images of his peak comedic swagger from films like Premam (2015) and Oru Vadakkan Selfie (2015). I envisioned my hero “Gopi’ in Malayalee From India based on Nivin’s real life persona to an extent and the style of his iconic screen roles. Once Nivin Pauly came on board, the film reached its full potential in my head.”

With this film, Dijo wanted to present a brand new ‘Nivin Pauly’. "Nivin was doing mostly serious roles back-to-back and I was craving to see his comedic side again. Even when we were narrating the script to him, I could see him sitting and laughing at each scene with a childlike glee. So I understood it was working for him as a comedy and he instantly agreed to do it."

The director also explains the reasons why the production exceeded the initial shooting schedules. "Initially, we had a 40-day shooting schedule. However, the scale of the film was such that a few days into the shoot I understood that it would not be a film that could be shot in such a short period of time. We have a seven-song album from Jakes Bejoy for the film and the process of shooting all these songs itself took a long time and the schedule went up to a little over hundred days. It was our commitment to capturing the scale and emotional complexity of the film that took us this long to crack its structure. Nivin Pauly and Listin Stephen (producer of the film) helped me complete my vision, without putting too much pressure.”

The film will be released in theatres on May 1.

Related Stories

No stories found.