Monday, August 07, 2017

As Close To Real Life As Possible

Director Dileesh Pothan talks about his critically-acclaimed hit film, 'Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum'

Photos of Dileesh Pothan by Albin Mathew; the poster of 'Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum'

By Shevlin Sebastian

On a recent afternoon, Mollywood director Dileesh Pothan was relaxing in a production bungalow in Kochi with his crew members. Suddenly, he heard the 'Ping' sound of a message. Quickly, he picked up his mobile phone. It was a forward from actor Fahadh Faasil. The message read: 'Please congratulate the director for me. Wonderful to see such talent flourishing'.

The message was sent by the noted director Mani Ratnam. And the film he was referring to is Dileesh's second, the critically-acclaimed hit, 'Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum' (Material object and eye-witness).

The tale, based on a script by journalist Sajeev Pazhoor, is simple. A couple Prasad (Suraj Venjaramoodu) and Sreeja (newcomer Nimisha Sajayan) are travelling on a bus from Vaikom to Kasaragod in Kerala. Owing to family opposition, because they belong to different castes, they had got married hastily and are now eloping.

On the bus, a thief (Fahadh Faasil), who is sitting behind, managed to snip off Sreeja's gold necklace, using a cutter. Fahadh is spotted immediately by Sreeja, but he quickly swallows the item and denies the robbery. The bus is stopped, there is a hullabaloo by the passengers and the vehicle is eventually taken to the police station.

What follows is an intriguing and gripping drama at the police station. In order to provide authenticity, 23 actual policemen are acting, including the Sub Inspector, who is played by Sibi Thomas, a Circle Inspector in real life.

To provide even more authenticity, Dileesh did away with written dialogues. I told the actors the main points of the scene,” says Dileesh. “Then I would ask them to come up with suitable dialogues. But we would do a day's rehearsal. And we kept practising till the conversation was perfect. This enabled the actors to go deeper into their characters.”

Another game-changer was the presence of noted Bollywood/Mollywood cinematographer Rajeev Ravi, who shot most of the scenes with a hand-held camera. “When an actor moves, if the camera moves at the same time, you can catch him in a most natural manner,” says Dileesh, whose first film, 'Maheshinte Prathikaaram' was also received well.

While everybody acted well, Fahadh took the prize for his portrayal as a thief. “To get a true feel of what it is like to be inside a police station, Fahadh would sit on a thin mattress on the floor in the 'arms room',” says Dileesh. “On most days, after lunch, he would also go and sit in the cell. Sometimes, he took a nap.”

All this hard work by everyone has paid off. 'Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum' is one of the best Mollywood films in recent times. 

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

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