Malayalam Adda 2022: Vineeth Sreenivasan On Hridayam And The Market For Romances Amidst Mass Spectacles
2022 has been a wonderful year for filmmaker-actor Vineeth Sreenivasan who is basking in the success of his directorial Hridayam and acting venture Mukundan Unni Associates. In the Malayalam Roundtable 2022, Vineeth speaks about releasing a romantic drama in the post-pandemic time, why he felt the audience will celebrate the film in theatres and the climax of Mukundan Unni Associates.
When theatres reopened after the pandemic, there was a concept that only big films like the mass-masala types and blockbusters will release in theatres, while rom-coms and coming-of-age stories will most likely go on OTT. But at the peak of the pandemic, Vineeth released his coming-of-age romantic drama Hridayam and it went on to become a huge success. The director asserts that even without big stars and budgets, audiences will celebrate certain types of films.
“I used to hear from people in other industries that hereafter only films like Baahubali will succeed. I think that notion is wrong, and two great examples are right here (in the roundtable). Be it in Vipin’s Jaya Jaya Jaya Jaya Hey which especially peaks in the big fight in the second half or Ratheesh’s Nna Thaan Case Kodu, which leaves you in splits, these films were celebrated,” says Vinneeth, adding that since people were focussing on thrillers and mass films, he felt confident while releasing Hridayam because it gave hope and joy to people.
While he agrees that a large family section still prefers OTT, he wants to bring the audiences back to the theatre, especially people between the ages of 60 to 70. He says, “Theatre-goers are often people who are aged up to 40 or 50. But when I watched Ponniyin Selvan I in Chennai, I saw many people above 60 and 70 years of age coming to the screens. This is partly because they are a generation who grew up with Kalki’s novel. When I saw them, I thought we have to find a way too, we should make a film that can bring this set of audiences back.”
If you had watched Mukundan Unni Associates, you would know that the voiceovers were a major part of the film, offering the right dose of humour. But do you know that the voiceovers were added during the post-production as an afterthought? The film’s director Abhinav Sunder Nayak and Vineeth were conscious that the film should not be completely dark. While they couldn’t add humour through the lines with Mukundan Unni or other characters, the director came up with the concept of using voiceovers in the edit. Vineeth says, “The voiceovers are what I liked the most. During the edit, Abhi called and said he was trying something. When I went for dubbing, the film began with the voiceover. I liked it and I have never enjoyed dubbing as much as I did for this film.”
Towards the end of Mukundan Unni Associates, the evil character played by Vineeth leaves happily in a fancy car. Vineeth says that Nayak had a clear idea about why he wanted the climax that way. “When we discussed the climax, Abhi asked if society has not celebrated evil people like Mukundan. It has happened. So we wanted to reflect that reality instead of trying to change people through this movie. And my job was to stick by him.”
As he reminisces about his works in the past twelve months, the director says he received a great response for his acting in Mukundan Unni Associates. “Usually, I do not get calls complimenting my acting, especially from people I trust. But Mukundan Unni gave me that.”
And what about Hridayam? "That was just magic."