Edited excerpts from an interview between Manju Warrier and Vishal Menon
Kannezhuthi Pottum Thottu was ahead of its times in the way it portrayed a revenge drama told through the eyes of a woman. It was Kill Bill even before the film released. What are your memories of that film?
It is only now that I can look back at such a film and realise how unique it was. I’m lucky I got to do that. Not just the story, but even working with actors such as Thilakan sir.
It is also your most grey/dark character right?
Yes, kind of. Now, when I think about, eight out of 10 people who speak to me about my characters, choose Kannezhuthi Pottum Thottu along with Kanmadham and Pathram. But I couldn’t foresee the film’s hugeness or its impact while I was working on it. It’s when people talk about the film now that I realise what it means to them.
Not just the film’s drama, even the shots were so unique and fresh.
If I remember correctly, that was the first Malayalam film to use the Akela crane. They had several shots that were taken after the crane was mounted on boats. I also remember having a small, fun competition with Biju Menon over wanting to be the first to be shot using that crane.
What was it like when you listened to the script for the first time?
Director TK Rajeev Kumar, and the film’s producers Manianpilla Raju and Suresh Kumar were there during the narration. As I was listening, I kept looking at my parents to see their reaction, and they were extremely happy. I was excited to do that movie. I didn’t really think then that it would be a film I would have to shoulder. At that age, I was only thinking about what fun the shoot would be and wondering what the locations would be like. I never thought about the character’s depth, or the intensity with which I would have to prepare for some of its scenes. I think it is only now that I have the ability to understand a character deeply. At my age then, it was very difficult to be able to visualise or picture a character that would avenge her parents’ murder by seduction. Now, the experiences of life are helping me portray my characters. Back then, I was also one of youngest on sets, so there was not a lot I could ask or get involved in. It is only now that I’m enjoying and appreciating the process and teamwork involved in filmmaking, and seeing the film grow at each stage.