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A thriller in the making


THERE IS something really special about Bolghatty Palace. The buildings, the scenery and the general ambience give the place a distinct look. At least director Vinayan definitely feels so. He has chosen the island for the shooting of his latest movie, `Vellinakshathram,' which incidentally is a horror flick. The unit has shifted to this location after canning some "thrilling moments" at a few places in and around the city.

On his decision to make a "spine chiller," soon after the military saga `War and Love,' director Vinayan says, "When I made `Akashaganga' some years ago, there was wide scepticism regarding how the audience would accept it, even in the film circles. It turned out to be a super hit. `Vellinakshathram' too, will be a horror film with loads of comedy. In this movie a young girl who is under four years of age plays the central character."

Just then Prithviraj, the sensational new prospect of Malayalam filmdom appears from the adjacent room, gazing into a mirror and humming a hit song from `Boys.' Vinayan gives necessary directions after viewing the rehearsals on a monitor kept in the room. The paintings in the backdrop get changed to suit the scene. Vinod, (that is Prithvi's character in the film), plays a single father. His wife Aswathi, who belongs to a royal family, dies soon after giving birth to their child. It was a marriage that was vehemently opposed by many in the household. Karthika, who plays Prithviraj's wife, is also present in the room. "This is one character I really look forward to," says she. She has been paired opposite Prithvi for the first time.

After a few hours, Meenakshi, who is known as Sharmilee in Tamil films materialises along with an adorable young kid. The cute wonder-kid is known to everyone in the unit as Ammu, the name of her character in the film. A wide grin flashes on every face at the mere sight of this little angel.

Vinayan, who has also written the story, screenplay and dialogues, besides directing the film, continues, "Meenakshi is the young lady who takes care of Ammu after her mother's death and the hero gradually develops a liking for her. The child's rather peculiar behaviour reveals another story, which dates back to almost 175 years, during the time of Tipu Sultan. And for the flashback, we will be shooting in Rajasthan."

The next shot requires Prithviraj to relax on a chair with Ammu on his lap. After okaying the shot, the hero says, "It's a wonderful feeling to have a daughter. Touchwood."

He has been playing characters with wide ranging persona in his quota of movies. Films like `Stop Violence,' `Nandanam,' `Meerayude Dukhavum Muthuvinte Swapnavum' and `Swapnakkoodu' had him in entirely different moulds. Is the Casanova Alex `Kunjoonju' Chandy in `Swapnakkoodu,' the closest to his real self? "Not at all. I am not at all like him in real life. I tend to be shy. Perhaps, Manu in `Nandanam' was more like me."

The director calls for some more changes in the room as Meenakshi and Ammu enter the frame. `Vellinakshathram' will be her second movie after

M. A.Venu's `Kakka Karumban.' "But I don't know which will be released first," she says with a smile. "I love to act in more Malayalam films as the characters here have depth and the heroines have much more to do than just look good."

Saloo K. George, the art director of the movie is delighted to work for a horror film, as "there is tremendous chance for the technicians to exhibit our talents. We need to be more alert as there are flashback scenes which tells some happenings which had taken place more than a century back."

"We have put in some real hard work learning about the dressing styles of that period and we are sure that it will be noticed by the spectators," adds well-known costume designer S.B.Satheeshan.

`Vellinakshathram' is made under the banner of Devipriya Films and will be released by Swargachithra. The film has an impressive star cast. Cinematography is by Shaji, make up by P.V.Shankar and stills by Ajith V.Shankar. Lyrics by S.Ramesan Nair and Kaithapram have been set to tune by M.Jayachandran. The movies is slated to hit the movie halls by the end of March. Be prepared for some real spine shuddering stuff.

VIJAY GEORGE

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