Wednesday, May 05, 2010

A bright beginning

Director Mamas Chandran makes a competent debut with ‘Pappy Appacha’

By Shevlin Sebastian

In 2004, film director MeCartin gave a class on animation for a group of people in Thalassery, Kannur. Mamas Chandran was one of the students. When the class was over, he told MeCartin he wanted to join films. “I had wanted to be a director from my childhood,” he says.

MeCartin says that he was very impressed by the talent shown by Mamas during the class. “A skill in animation could be easily transferred to films,” he says. So when MeCartin was making a film, ‘Pandippada’, he invited Mamas to be an assistant director.

Mamas did his job well, and went on to assist in films like ‘The Speed Track’ by Jayasurya and ‘Balram Vs Taradas’ by veteran director I.V. Sasi in 2006.

In between, Mamas also made advertising films, and music videos, as well as numerous cartoons for Malayalam newspapers like ‘Rashtriya Deepika’,

Thereafter, in 2008, Mamas sat down and wrote a script. After a month, he showed it to Anoop, superstar Dileep’s sibling. Anoop liked it and asked his brother to read it. Dileep also liked the script, and the brothers decided to produce the film.

But Mamas had to wait two-and-a-half years before the shooting began. “Dileep had a lot of films in hand,” says Mamas. So he spent the time fine-tuning all aspects of the film.

On April 14, ‘Pappy Appacha’ was finally released. It is the story of a father and son, played with aplomb by Innocent and Dileep, who are arrogant landlords in a village called Ithirikkandam. They have quite a few businesses, including a market, a match factory, a school, and a theatre.

When Mamas, the son of a police officer, was growing up in Idukki, he came across a news report about a theatre that had caught fire. Later, it became a local controversy because the owners burnt it down to get the insurance money.

So Mamas wrote about how Dileep and Innocent burned down a match factory to get the insurance. Nevertheless, it is the usual story of landlords dominating a village and engaged in warding off fierce rivals.

In between, there are fights, a few songs, touches of comedy here and there, and a coy love story. Kavya Madhavan -- Dileep’s object of affection -- plays Annie, a schoolteacher who works in a school owned by the landlord.

Although MeCartin has not seen the film, he says the feedback he got from colleagues is that it is “so-so.”

Deepak Isaac, a Bangalore-based professional on holiday in Kochi says that the film was slow at certain places.

“There is nothing new in the story,” he says. “However, the best part was the introductory credits shown in animation style with comical descriptions of jobs like editing and directing.”

‘Pappy Appacha’ has done okay at the box office. And it is remarkable that Mamas, 28, and barely five years in the industry has been able to make a competent film.

Mecartin feels Mamas will become better. “The first film is always a learning experience,” he says. “Even the first one I made had so many mistakes. But by carefully avoiding the errors, the next film will become much better. I am sure this will be the case with Mamas.”

At his sister’s home in Thammanam, Kochi, where he stays, Mamas displays an outward modesty, but there are traces of braggadocio in his talk. Asked whether the presence of seasoned professionals like Dileep and Kavya made him nervous, he says, “An actor is a tool in the hands of a director. To mould them is my job.”

Mamas was also certain that the film would do well. “I was confident about the subject matter,” he says. “I knew there was a chemistry between Dileep and Kavya, as well as Innocent. I was sure that the comedy sequences would be funny.”

Clearly, Mamas does not suffer from any self-doubts. It is probably this conceit that has helped him make a debut where people in the industry have sat up and took notice.

At present, Mamas is busy writing another script. A new producer has promised to bankroll it. The future looks as bright as the sunny April morning that I met him.

(The New Indian Express, Kochi)

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