Back in the reckoning
Director Lal Jose has delivered a hit with `Chanthupottu.'
I decided to go ahead with an unconventional theme instead of sticking to the usual `hit formula' and luckily, it has been well-received. Lal Jose
CALLING THE SHOTS: Lal Jose prefers new themes to tried and tested formulae.
There is nothing like honourable defeat, even in films. Or, ask Lal Jose. After being hyped as one of the best things to have happened to Malayalam films, particularly after `Meesa Madhavan,' two successive films - `Pattalam' and `Rasikan' - put a question mark on his career as a director. Fate intervened in the form of `Chanthupottu,' which he directed and is a hit at the box office.
Does he feel relieved?
"Obviously, it's a great feeling. For me, it was never a question of survival, as I hope that the audience has acknowledged that I have learnt the craft by now. But if this film had failed, it would perhaps have affected my credentials from the producers' point of view. Both my earlier films had exceeded the expected budget and it affected the box office standing of those films a lot. Anyway, I decided to go ahead with an unconventional theme instead of sticking to the usual `hit formula' and luckily, it has been well-received."
Dileep's role in `Chanthupottu' has been quite an experiment, a risky one at that. Was it tough to convince the hero to enact such a role? "Not really. Though I am not sure if most of the other heroes would be comfortable doing such a role, we had only Dileep in mind for the role. In fact, we first planned to make the story into a movie almost seven years ago when Dileep and I were relatively new. It was Nadir Shah who mentioned this character in Benny P. Nayarambalam's drama `Arabikadalum Adbhudavilakkum.' But the film needed a big budget and we decided to wait before we made it. Last year, when the project was taken up again, it got delayed on account of the film strike and then, the climatic changes."
Lal Jose says that although he tends to get tense, he was relaxed this time around after seeing the first print.
"I knew that everyone connected with the film had done their roles really well."
The crew had to face some resistance from the residents in some areas where the film was shot, as they felt that their accent had been exaggerated in films over the years. "Even I felt that their concern was genuine and have been careful about it in the film. Now I receive lots of calls from them saying that they are proud that the film has been shot in their area."
The highlight of `Chanthupottu' is the fact that Dileep's role as the effeminate Radhakrishan is consistent throughout the film, as he "not made a comeback with the hero act after the second half" as many would have expected. Was it a deliberate decision? "Absolutely. Radhakrishnan, has been moulded with utmost care. Though he is regarded as "another girl" where he lives, when he moves on to another place, the perception of others changes. Even the villain there regards him as a "man." Again, his fiancée accepts him as such and never insists on him becoming a complete man."
What was the problem with `Pattalam' and `Rasikan?'
"I believe that both were okay films. Expectations stood against `Pattalam.' We failed to convey the exact mood of the film through the promos and it affected the fate of the film. We had planned a film called `Chekavan' in which the protagonists were new faces. One was Sivankutty, an ardent movie buff, and the other, a history student, who suffers a psychological blow after his mother's death. But when the project was shelved, after the producer backed out, it was Dileep who suggested that we take Sivankutty's character from the original theme and make him the hero of `Rasikan.' The life of a fan becoming a filmi-tale, was the one-line story. But we should have realised that Dileep himself is a big star and that the audience would have trouble imagining him as a movie addict."
Lal Jose is no longer part of `Balaraman,' the project announced with Mohan Lal in the lead. Why is that?
"Script writer Suresh Babu had come to me with this script. I was excited about working with Mohan Lal. But the film was to have been made during the time I would have been busy with `Chanthupottu.' I have not heard anything from them ever since."
Lal Jose is all set to go ahead with his next film, `Achchanurangatha Veedu' with Salim Kumar as the hero.
Salim will be a 50-year-old widower, an irrigation department employee, who has three daughters
Send this article to Friends by
Chennai and Tamil Nadu