Don Palathara is the director of Santhoshathinte Onnam Rahasyam starring Rima Kallingal and Jithin Punthenchery. Mahesh Narayanan’s Malik starring Fahadh Faasil grabbed attention both for its artistic intentions and the digital route for release. Actors Darshana Rajendran and Roshan Mathew were seen together in two recent films – C U Soon and Aanum Pennum. The latter also featured in Anurag Kashyap’s Choked. Anna Ben’s performance in Sara’s has brought her acclaim. As 2021 comes to an end, these actors and directors get together to speak about all things cinema with Baradwaj Rangan.
From the films that I watched in Kerala, Aarkkariyam stood out to me. It is very rare that you get to see someone discuss ethical issues or dilemmas inside a character. But you know, only once in a while we see a film like Aarkkariyam. I think Sanu John Varghese, the writer-director, was very courageous with the film.
Right from the beginning shot, he established that he is not going to confer to the idea of a mainstream film. He had long takes and kept the camera still for a while. He had a very clear vision. How he executed, how the film was all set in mostly one place and they did not try to do too much with the camera, with the characters or the conflict between them, it was beautiful. How the film ended was also beautiful for me.
It was not just one film. In the anthology film Aanum Pennum, I liked Aashiq Abu’s segment. It was very beautiful because I have read the story of Unni R. When I was watching the film, it had that kind of flow. I got the essence of the character very well and since it was made as an anthology, it was a perfect kind of blend. There is an intrigue in that. It kept me wondering how these characters are going to perform here, how the transformation is going to happen, how one aspect is going to be exposed. The bike itself was a very relatable aspect in that film.
Another film is Thinkalazhcha Nishchayam. That was a surprise for me because it was rooted in that space. There are new talents coming up in that film. A film that is set with a lot of daily routine and that becomes the originality of the film.
Of course, I am not going to talk much about Nayattu and Aarkkariyam because I am a part of those films. However, Aarkkariyam stands a little above. Sanu was very concerned and he thought “I am now a person who is more than 50 years old and I have to make a film that is not to satisfy the mainstream. I just want to make a film that satisfies me.” And that’s how the film was made. I am so happy about that. But, he was disappointed when the theatrical run wasn’t good for him. I was telling him from the beginning that it is a digital film. After it had it’s digital run, the real results came.
It has to be Thinkalazhcha Nishchayam. I was expecting something from Joji, Aarkkariyam and Nayattu. But Thinkalazhcha Nishchayam was so exciting because here are a bunch of people I had never seen before and they are just so amazing. There are just so many moments in the film where it was like a territory we haven’t explored at all. We haven’t heard this dialect before. It was a story we have heard before but it was all so fresh. When the film was over, I was so excited and I spoke to everyone involved in the project and told them how excited I was about watching it.
I think mine would be Aarkkariyam. This was a film that I watched at home, on my TV and it transformed me into a movie-watching experience like a theatre would. I think it had to do with the pacing of it more than anything. I also watched it with a scattered mind, at a particularly stressful time, yet as long as the film was playing, I was with the film. I wasn’t thinking of anything else and it was very calming. These are all very subjective but I guess that’s how it should be. How you should experience a film is personal. I think Aarkkariyam was my most favourite journey among all of these films.
If I can just name one performance also, that would be Manoj K.U. who played the father’s role in Thinkalazhcha Nishchayam. That’s a character you have seen since the beginning of history and he played it so originally and so fresh. I saw him do things with that character I haven’t seen anyone else do. I was amazed by that.
For me Nayattu was the film that stayed with me even after watching it. Even after a week I was still thinking about it and talking about the film. That movie was so wholesome in every aspect of cinema. It satisfied me, be it the performance, the story, the politics it was discussing, the making of the film, the direction, the music, the camera and every aspect of it was so beautifully done. I was in awe of it. I remember talking to my parents about it. I just wanted to tell anyone who I came across to go watch this film. I was completely raving about it.
Aarkkariyam was also something that was so different, especially at a time where you are deprived of a lot of things and entertainment. You are frustrated and thinking of a lot of personal things. It is set in the current time where people are facing certain situations, dealing with a lot of things about personal choices and decision making. It was so refreshing to watch that kind of a film. I think these two films.