Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Chasing a Dream

Jude Anthany Joseph has made a 12-minute film on the life of Malayalam superstar Mammooty. His debut film, 'Ohm Shanti Oshana' is also a box office hit

Photo by Melton Anthony

By Shevlin Sebastian

Two years ago, the actor Nivin Pauly gave a book to his friend, Jude Anthany Joseph. It was the 300-page autobiography of Mollywood superstar Mammooty called 'Chamayangaliillade' (Sans any make-up). When Jude began reading it, he found it so interesting, he could not stop. He read through the night.

The next day, Jude told Nivin that he could make a film.

Nivin said, “That's why I gave you the book.”

Since Jude was an unknown, he decided to make a 12-minute short film. “I felt I could do some scenes from Mammooty's childhood,” says Jude.

To do research, the debutant director went to Mammooty's village in Chempu, in Kottayam district. “I pretended to be a journalist to the locals,” he says. Jude took photos of Mammooty's shuttered house, the school where he studied, and other places of interest.

He also met Mammooty's school teacher, Sahadevan and his wife Nalini, who are still teaching. “Sahadevan Sir told me that Mammooty was always interested in the arts from a young age,” says Jude.

In fact, in a scene from the film, 'Mamookka's Biography', which can be seen on You Tube, the teacher asked the students what they wanted to be when they grew up. A couple of students listed the professions of policeman and chief minister. But, one boy, to the shock of the teacher and his classmates, said he wanted to be an actor.

The 10-year-old boy, MA Jeyasuriyaa, who played the younger Mammooty was an inspired selection. Jude saw him at a drama club and quickly noted his acting talent. In the film, Jeyasuriyaa looked confident and mischievous.

One day, he saw a postman, who was riding a bicycle, near his school. He asked him whether he was going to deliver letters to his home that day. The man nodded. Then, impishly, the junior Mammooty asked the postman if he could carry his school books, along with the letters, and give them to his mother, while he went out to play.

But there were disappointments, too. To get a role in a play conducted by the school drama club, the senior students asked for 50 paise. Mammooty managed to persuade his father to give him the money. But when Mammooty met the senior students, they told him his closest friend had paid the money and got the role. Mammooty felt crushed.

Nevertheless, it is an inspiring story. “Who could have imagined that this boy from a small village would one day become a megastar of Malayalam cinema,” says Jude.

In April, 2012, Jude showed the film to Mammooty in his trailer during a shoot at Kochi. “He liked many aspects,” says Jude. “I told him I wanted to make a full-length feature film. Immediately, Mammooty asked me to write a screenplay.

Jude is busy with that at present.

Meanwhile, two months ago, Jude released his first feature, 'Ohm Shanti Oshana', which stars Nivin and Nazriya Nazim in the title roles. It is a sweet and endearing love story between youngsters. And it has become a super-duper hit.

But Jude seems to be an unlikely candidate to make an impact at the box office. An electronics engineer, he worked for three years at Infosys, Bangalore. But he had always nurtured a dream to be a film director. “I watched a movie every day on the computer for years together,” he says. “I learnt direction like that.”

So, one day, he gave up his job and chased his dream.

Just like his hero Mammooty. 

(Sunday Magazine, The New Indian Express, South India and Delhi)   

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