Tuesday, November 08, 2016

The Roar Of The Tiger

Director Vysakh talks about his film, 'Pulimurugan', the first Mollywood film, to earn Rs 100 crore at the box office

Photos: Mohanlal with Vysakh; a scene from the film 

By Shevlin Sebastian

Nowadays, strangers, both men and women, call up director Vysakh and say, “I want to kiss you. Thank you for giving us such a varied fare of Mohanlal.”

In the man vs. tiger film, 'Pulimurugan', Mohanlal, as a tiger hunter, displays his histrionics in fun sequences, as a hero, and family man. “He is emotional and loving, he cries and fights courageously,” says Vysakh.

At his villa in Kochi, Vysakh is in a happy mood. And there is a reason for it: 'Pulimurugan' has just crossed Rs 100 crore, which is a first in Mollywood history.

“'Pulimurugan' is a turning point in the Malayalam film industry, in terms of box office receipts,” says senior director B. Unnikrishnan. “It is clear that the market has expanded: to other states in India, the USA and Europe.” 

Asked the reasons for its success, Vysakh says, “A good script [by Udayakrishna], Mohanlal Sir's acting genius, smart marketing, and the never-before-seen action sequences.”

Indeed, it is the action sequences, apart from the animation graphics, which are the USP of the film. Initially, when Vysakh did research on man vs tiger fights, he could not find one in world cinema. “There are many tiger movies, like 'The Taking Of Tiger Mountain', 'Two Brothers', 'Life of Pi' and 'Jungle Book', but there is no direct fight between man and tiger. We had to work hard to make it a believable action sequence. We did drawings, and created story boards.”

Vysakh also roped in the Puducherry-born action-choreographer Peter Hein who has done memorable work on blockbusters like 'Sivaji', 'Enthiran', 'Ghajini' and 'Baahubali'.

To get a better idea, Peter, along with Vysakh and a few members of the crew spent three weeks in Vietnam. “We saw 140 tigers on a farm, which belonged to a Member of Parliament,” says Vysakh. “They were wild animals, all in cages. Even Lal Sir spent some time with us. It was hard work.”

But that is Vysakh for you. He has always been a painstaking director. And, thanks to 'Pulimurugan', he has further embellished his resume. Right from the beginning, 'Pokkiri Raja' (2010), nearly all his films – 'Seniors', 'Mallu Singh' and 'Sound Thoma' – have done well at the box office.

But now, he feels a burden and an unexpected pressure. “Yes, I am thinking about this question these days, 'How do I top 'Pulimurugan'?” he says. Thankfully, relief is at hand. Vysakh's six-year-old daughter Isabella comes up and says, “Appa, do you know where my school bag is?” 

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

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