Monday, January 14, 2013

'I am competing with newcomers'

By Sathyan Anthikad

(As told to Shevlin Sebastian)

It is true that I have been a reasonably successful film-maker for more than 30 years, but I cannot afford to relax, because, till today, nobody has discovered a sure-fire formula behind hits. But what I ensure is to do the job with 100 per cent sincerity. The passion which I showed at 19 still burns brightly within me. Another reason why my films have done well is because I try to see my films through the eyes of an ordinary person. I have also ensured that no matter how entertaining a film is, at the core there should be a social message. This is there in every one of the 52 films that I have made.

I also tend to repeat my actors and crew in film after film. They include actors like Jayaram, Innocent, KPAC Lalitha, and cinematographer Venu. Apart from having a mental wavelength with them, and a sense of family, which is very important for me, they are all great talents. And it is because of their contributions that my films have done well.

As soon as a film of mine is released I go back to my village of Anthikad and lead the life of an ordinary dweller. Because of this, I am able to keep track of the changes in society. It does not mean I am constantly monitoring what is happening. It is an unconscious assimilation of trends by going for movies, talking with people, and reading a lot.

I am not particularly affected that my last film, 'Puthiya Theerangal', has got mixed reviews. In my mind, I have made the best film. But on Facebook and other social media a lot of careless comments are made. There is a desire to bring down established directors. But I take comfort from the fact that my earlier films, like 'Nadodikattu' and 'Ponmuttayidunna Tharavu' received negative reviews initially, but, later, it became positive.

I will take a break of a few months before I start work on my next film. The reason why I have not faded away is because I am trying to compete with the newcomers. That is my mind-set. This has kept me young in mind and heart. It is only when the media says that I have been in the profession for three decades that I am reminded of my age. But in my heart I always feel that I have joined the industry only the other day.

And it is these hot young directors who are bringing about a positive change in the Malayalam film industry. It reminds me of an earlier trend. In the 1980s, there was a similar change when a group of new directors, writers and actors came on the scene. They included Mammooty, Mohanlal, Fazil, Priyardarshan, Sibi Malayil and myself. 

Now, after many years, a similar change is coming. Rajesh Pillai’s 'Traffic' is an impressive film. Talented directors like Aashique Abu and Sameer Thahir, and actors like Fahad Fazal, Dulquer Salman and Nivin Pauly are making an impact. But that does not mean the senior people will fade away. Mammooty and Mohanlal are highly talented and committed actors. They will continue to have their space.

As to the oft-asked question of how long I will make films, I remember the case of the great director Satyajit Ray, who shot his last films, while an ambulance was on permanent stand-by at the location. But, realistically, I hope to make films as long as I have the passion for it!

(Senior director Sathyan Anthikad has had several hits in Mollywood) 

(The New Indian Express, Sunday Magazine)

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