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Anwar stepped straight into the big league

VIJAY GEORGE

Debutant film director Anwar Rasheed got a lucky break with `Rajamanikyam,' in which Mammootty plays the lead role.


I became an independent director from an assistant director in an hour's time Anwar



GRADUATION TIME: Anwar Rasheed, gunning for that extra edge.

If the incidents that happened in the life of this film director were to be made into a film, many would find it too `filmi' to be true. Such was the bonanza that awaited 28-year-old film director Anwar Rasheed on a memorable day, a few months back.

Anwar, who had been originally pencilled in as the associate director of `Rajamanikyam,' eventually stepped in as the director, after Ranjith opted out on account of some personal inconveniences. "I became an independent director in an hour's time," says Anwar.

A lucky break

"I had only a rough idea about the story line when I joined the crew. It was Ranjith himself who suggested my name and Mammootty, with whom I had discussed a script that I had written, supported it. `Rajamanikyam' was already decided for Ramzan and I had only limited time to finish the movie. Soon, I went through the whole script and knew that it is a safe bet to start with. Things began to happen fast and the shooting went off well," recalls Anwar, who has assisted such directors as Reghunath Paleri, K. Madhu, Johny Antony, Thaha, Sunder Das and A.K. Sajan.

"He has amazing energy and great potential," opines Mammootty about the young director. Anwar was in the process of completing his own script with Mammootty, when `Rajamanikyam' happened. "I had confidence in him, especially after he came to me with his own script, which was quite an interesting one. "

T.A. Shahid, who has scripted `Rajamanikyam,' is happy that the director has succeeded in doing a good job. "Rajamanikyam is a complex character who expresses, even his agonies, in a humorous tone," says Shahid.

The film, to Anwar, "is a family drama and a full fledged entertainer." Although the title role that Mammootty enacts has a distinctive make-up and mannerisms and a comic touch, there is an underlying pain that dogs the character.

"Rajamanikyam has had a disturbing past, which always nags him. He hails from the southern part of the State, on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border but makes his fortune in Bellary in northern Kerala. He was disowned by his mother. Beneath his bravado is a man who yearns for true love," explains Anwar.

Padmapriya is the heroine in `Rajamanikyam.' The film, being produced by Valiyaveettil Films, was shot mostly in Pollachi.

Working with Mammootty

How was it working with Mammootty?

"Being an avid film aficionado, I have grown up seeing him in a variety of roles. I had worked with him in films like `Sethuramayyar CBI.' He had given me the nod to go ahead with my own script, which I plan to come out with some time later. He is a wonderful actor to direct."

Anwar, who hails from Ernakulam, says that he started following cinema seriously after he joined Maharaja's College, where "we had a group of genuine film buffs." It was then that he became close to "like minded youngsters" like Vinod Vijayan, who directed the action film `Quotation' and Amal Neerad, who was the cinematographer for the Ram Gopal Varma production, `James' and Ranjith's `Black.'

Later, on his father's transfer to Chennai, he joined Madras University for his postgraduation. There, he assisted Reghunath Paleri in `Vismayam'.

Although `Rajamanikyam' would be competing with some of the major projects now, Anwar feels that the audiences are back in the theatres gauging by the response to the films that were released during Onam.

"I had been active in drama and still photography, during the youth festival competitions in college. Now, some years later, it's a different competition that I am into.

Though here everyone can come out victorious with their films, I'm gunning for that extra edge with my film," laughs Anwar.

It is definitely that fighting spirit that has catapulted him to the centre stage of film direction.

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