When we first researched the upcoming Malayalam film ‘Malgudi Days’, we were genuinely perplexed when we were presented with three names one after the other; Vivek, Visakh and Vinod. We seldom hear of three brothers directing a film cohesively. In an exclusive interview with iFlickz, Visakh gives us a glimpse of his magical Malgudi Days.
How did Malgudi Days happen?
From time immemorial, we’ve been exposed to the magical world of cinema. Luckily, our family happened to share the same passion and zeal for the visual art as us. This practice of ardent movie watching is what cemented the foundation for our aspiration to become filmmakers. In an uncanny coincidence, us, the three siblings, all happened to share the same vision which boded well for us, clearly.
We would watch any kind of film. Be it masala, action, horror or thrillers. We’d cover all of it on the very first day of it’s release out of fear of having premeditated reviews influencing our esoteric opinions.
Ram Gopal Varma has been a major inspiration
Ram Gopal Varma’s films had a major play in my moulding as a director. Films like ‘Sarkar’, ‘Kaun’ got me thinking on the nuances of filmmaking in terms of direction and aesthetics. Until, then my viewing and scrutiny of films was limited to a superficial level”. I also watch Tamil, Kannada and Telugu films. Language plays no barrier here.
I am inclined towards films that encompass a subject that I’m ignorant about or that stirs my curiosity. The eagerness to learn new things, is what draws me to watch different types of films”.
Our respective engineering jobs didn’t prevent us from putting our best foot forward. We were bogged down by our respective fields and hence, decided to make some room for the grand entry of the cameras and lenses into our lives.
But, this venture was greedy and demanded a lot of attention from our end. So, we felt it was best we forwent our jobs.
As for Malgudi Days, it’s a film that happened purely by chance. Our inspiration was something as simple as a news article we happened to come across one day. That posed as the tailwind for us to start working seriously on the debut.” He adds.
Inspired by RK Narayanan’s masterpiece ‘Malgudi Days’?
No, none at all in fact. The sole reason we decided to name the film as ‘Malgudi Days’ was because RK narayanan’s collections are something all of us instinctively associate our childhood to. This movie too treads along the same lines. It’s something close to a trip down memory lane and we wanted the title to reflect those emotions to the audience.
On starring Anoop Menon as the protagonist
Anoop Menon might not have been seen in too many roles as the lead recently but he is an actor of pure substance, so much so we felt his talent is yet to be explored. We felt he suited the character in the film to the T and we wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
Challenges of working with fellow directors ie brothers
Of course there were many challenges thrown at us during the course of shooting. But, these were the normal challenges faced by any other man with the director’s cap on. It had nothing to do with the fact that each of us were answerable to two other fellow directors. The reason mainly being, we started the initial stages of ideation in unison. We were all equally involved and responsible for the happenings during the production. If we had an issue, we would voice it out loudly so there’s no scope for a case of miscommunication. With a transparent understanding of each other, we coped with the hurdles faced.
On managing a school, literally
I’d say the biggest challenge we faced was the handling of kids. Kids are very fickle minded and it’s difficult to predict what they want or what they might do. Also, our film centres around kids of the age of nine years or so. And, since kids constitute the foundation of our script, it was crucial to conduct a set of stringent auditions through which we had two rounds of short listing which descended from a good 300 children to 25 to finally, two talented child actors who would be pivotal in taking the story forward. While helming a film, the art of handling children is by itself an acquired skill. Further, these kids were all novices in front of the cameras. We conducted intense workshops to give them some direction. Barring the two main children, there were several supporting child actors given the school setup. We would have to take each child separately into a room and explain what had to be done. Intimate them on the cues and give constant reminders to jolt them from distractions, when the camera pans to them. At such situations, the three of us found solace in the fact that this was a venture wielded by three directors.
One would say adventure is a synonym for children. The directors have keenly incorporated several adventure sequences with the children for Malgudi days. And, as far as I discerned from my interview with Visakh, they have taken their dose of adventure rather seriously, for he did mention the involvement of stunt masters to mould the sequences with the children which he seemed rather excited about but, made it a point to maintain sufficient discretion.
On comparison with earlier school stories
Malgudi days will not come across as a revamp of a dilapidated yesteryear’s school story. This aspect that could have worked against our very notion of doing something unique under a rather commonly used umbrella theme for movies, was taken care of during the scripting. Our film, though revolves around a school, focuses on one particular incident that gives it the licence to be passed off as a thriller. And, seldom have we seen thrillers infused with the innocence of children. So, I can safely say Malgudi days will stand apart from it’s previous counterparts.
With this, he signs off with a genial goodbye.