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Search for greener pastures

VIJAY GEORGE

Blessy's `Palunku' examines how consumerism has affected all sections of society.



FAMILY MAN: Mammootty plays a farmer from a small homestead in Idukki who moves to the city to pursue a dream.

Writer-director Blessy's latest venture `Palunku' zooms into the life of a farmer Monichan who stays with his family in a remote village in Idukki.

Just before the shooting starts outside a modest `parallel' college in Thodupuzha, Blessy narrates the outline of `Palunku.'

Focus on society

"As the title suggests, Monichan's life resembles a crystal in its purity and the inherent honesty in his nature is reflected in his dealings as well. If my earlier films focussed on individuals and their families, `Palunku' describes how the craving for the trappings of `modernity' has affected society as a whole."

Monichan, played by Mammootty, is a farmer who was forced to leave school after his family lost their house and belongings in a landslip. Now, he lives with his wife, Susamma, and two daughters. To provide his children better education, Monichan decides to move from the village to a nearby town. The new environment takes a toll on the life of the naive farmer and his life changes forever.

The scene that is being shot has Mammootty, who is riding a bicycle, talking to a lottery ticket vendor Soman Pillai (Jagathy Sreekumar). Cinematographer Santhosh Thundiyil gets inside Soman Pillai's old ambassador as Mammootty comes near the window. A large crowd of onlookers makes it difficult for the crew to go about their work.

Santhosh Thundiyil, who is among the top cinematographers in the country with `Kuch Kuch Hota Hai,' `Waqt,' `Pinjar,' `Kaal' and `Krrish,' is back in India after the shoot of K.P. Kumaran's `Akashagopuram' in London.

Thrust on realism

"More than opulence, which is evident in big budget Bollywood films, here the thrust is on realism," says Santhosh.

Mammootty feels that the character in `Palunku' is a tough one to enact. "Until he is forced to face some `pollution' created by certain social conditions, Monichan's life is an open book. The incidents narrated in the film could have happened to anyone and that makes it a relevant film," he says.

Blessy was planning to make a film based in Kolkata when the subject of `Palunku' caught his attention. He completed the script in a month's time and decided to go ahead with the project after a brief workshop for the cast and crew. The film is being shot in Thopramkudy, Thodupuzha, Muvattupuzha and Madurai.

As in his earlier films, Blessy has opted for a new actor as the film's heroine. Lakshmi Sharma, a model from Hyderabad, plays Susanna. He feels that the current crop of heroines are too young to look convincing as the mother of two and so he chose Lakshmi for the role.

Talking about his role, Jagathy Sreekumar says, "Soman Pillai is practical and knows how to make money from the various businesses. Most viewers would get a feel of déjà vu when they see this character."

The cast includes Nedumudi Venu and Thampi Antony.

`Palunku' is produced by Howli Pottur under the banner of Dream Team productions. Lyrics by Kaithapram and Vayalar Sarat Chandra Varma have been set to tune by Mohan Sithara. Stills are by Ajit V. Sankar. The film is likely to be a Christmas release.

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