EXCLUSIVE: Sanal Kumar Sasidharan on Vazhakku: Tovino Thomas & I were thrilled on idea of making it ourselves

Updated on Sep 07, 2021 08:49 PM IST  |  97.9K
EXCLUSIVE: Sanal Kumar Sasidharan on Vazhakku: Tovino Thomas & I were thrilled on idea of making it ourselves

Known for his films like Chola, S Durga and Kayattam, director Sanal Kumar Sasidharan was recently conferred with the first-ever Disruptor in Cinema award by the Government of Victoria at the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne. His incredibly unique style of filmmaking with his Malayalam film Kayattam earned him this award. In an exclusive conversation with Pinkvilla, director Sanal expressed his excitement for the same and shared how 'it was not easy to hold a dream' until the age of 36. 

Excepts from the interview: 

You have been conferred with the first-ever Disruptor in Cinema award at IFFM, and it straightway reflects your work. You are doing something unique with every film, what's the state of mind since you have made it here with no godfather in the industry.

I am honoured and humbled at the same time. I know that, it is a recognition for something which I was doing with all my heart and soul. I was trying to do cinema for a long time and finally I could make my first film at the age of 36. It was not easy to hold a dream till your middle age and suffer a lot of insults and rejections when you are young and more tempting towards adventures. My godfather is that tough time I had gone through at my younger age. I can feel the happiness within when this special award is given for the kind of cinema I make. It is a huge encouragement and recognition from IFFM and Film Victoria.

How was your experience filming for Kayattam?

Kayattam is a film I wanted to watch like a dream. And the making also was dreamy for us. We could capture a lot of magic offered by nature. Sometimes it was dangerous and unpredictable. But for us, it was so effortless. I could see the cinema evolving scene after scene and I was ready to appreciate that flow and believe in it. We had to face a lot of dangerous junctures, sometimes life-threatening climatic changes. Sudden snowfall in mid-August in Shia Goru, where we shot the film, was a surprise. We were stranded for a few days in the terrain due to a landslide, creating some panic back home in Kerala. But we never thought that we were in danger. We were feeling that nature is extending some unique canvas for us to paint our film.

Chola has been your most angriest, boldest, and sophisticated work yet. What were your thoughts or what triggered you to do this film?

Thank you for that comment. Chola was not like any other films of mine. It had a limited number of characters and a predictable plot. But that was a challenge to explore the inner space and keep up the narrative tension unbroken even in that very delicate string. I was concentrating on that mind space of the characters which offer limitless possibilities. You can reflect a lot of reality around and mould the branches of different kinds of readings in that. I never meant to be angry or bold intentionally, but I was conscious about the fear of artists for being criticised or rejected for the reason of misunderstanding a work due to a hasty reading. I had made my mind not to succumb to that pressure or fear and prepared to answer tough questions. I wanted to keep openings to the root cause of the issue which the film discusses in the storyline knowingly that if people fail to find those openings and hesitate to travel a little further into it, I might face huge criticism. But without that, I think Chola will be like some other films made with similar plot in the 80s in Malayalam.

Since you are known for taking up risky subjects, what's the process? From research to casting.

My observations and findings of a thing around me is my research. It is very personal, sometimes devoid of deep study or research in a conventional way. For me it is like a spark comes in a meditation and I go with that initial spark and scribble a bit of events to create an atmosphere. Finding the location is the next step usually and then the casting. I wish to make films with my friends so that we all easily understand each other and flow together. My movie comes into totality in the location.

It will be positive if we can make theatres also live and treat OTT like an organized bookshelf.
Director Sanal Kumar Sasidharan

What are your thoughts on how OTT has gained significant momentum in the country?

It is good as long as we respect theatres too. Theatres are spaces for community watching and that has a lot of importance in society. Theatres were shattered when television was introduced first. Recently after the arrival of multiplexes I was thinking that the culture of theatre viewing is coming back. But unfortunately due to Covid and unending lockdowns OTTs captured that space. It will be positive if we can make theatres also live and treat OTT like an organized bookshelf. They have an important role in keeping the films available instantly at all the time for anyone who wishes to watch any films of any time.

What's the status of Vazhakku? And what's different in the store for the audience?

Vazhakku is in the final post-production stage. We enjoyed making the film thoroughly. When Tovino Thomas and I were discussing the plot and the idea of making it ourselves we were thrilled. But it was an absolute joy shooting the film. I have high hopes for the film. I believe that it will be watched by a range of audiences breaking the barriers of an artistic movie.

Any plans to make a commercial, mass film?

No. It is not my cup of tea. But yes, I believe that one day my kind of film will be watched by the masses and make more than enough money. 

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