‘Pranaya Meenukalude Kadal’ did not receive the reception I expected: Kamal


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Kamal, a name synonymous with guaranteeing entertainment for film audiences, is making a comeback with his new movie titled ‘Vivekanandan Viralanu’ (Vivekanandan is viral) after a four-year hiatus. The film is set to hit theatres on January 19 and holds special significance for Kamal, as it marks his 40th year in the world of filmmaking. In an engaging interview with Malayala Manorama, Kamal delves into his new film, his extensive body of work, and reflects on life itself.

Kamal describes the film’s protagonist, Vivekanandan, as someone who easily blends with the rest of the crowd. He suggests that there could be three or four such Vivekanandans within any random group of 10 young individuals in society. These seemingly ordinary individuals might conceal extraordinary aspects of their private lives, and Vivekananda is one such character in the film.

Kamal reveals that in his latest endeavour, he has consciously deviated from the typical patterns observed in his previous films. The movie carries a significant political undercurrent cleverly cloaked in humour. While the central character is Vivekanandan, it’s the female characters who propel the narrative forward. Kamal employs a strategic approach, acknowledging that filmmakers from the older generation, like himself, are often approached by younger generations with preconceived notions. He asserts that ‘Vivekanandan’ is a film that the new generation can readily relate to and comprehend.

Kamal shares insights into his recent works, including ‘Aami’ and ‘Pranaya Meenukalude Kadal’ (released in 2018 and 2019, respectively), during his tenure as the chairman of the Kerala State Chalachitra Academy. He recalls that this period coincided with the devastating floods that ravaged Kerala, followed by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Kamal reflects on how these challenging times impacted not just society but also the world of cinema. He notes that ‘Pranayameenukalude Kadal’ did not receive the reception he had expected from viewers during this period. That was the thought behind taking more time to do the next film.

On casting stars

Kamal observes that the landscape of filmmaking has undergone significant shifts in recent times. There is now a heightened emphasis on celebrities and stars, which has altered the traditional approach to scriptwriting and casting. Instead of developing a script and then approaching a star, the trend has shifted toward securing a particular actor first and confirming their availability. Kamal notes that prominent actors often play a decisive role in determining various aspects of a film, including its content, commencement date, and commercial aspects.

He acknowledges that established stars have well-defined territories and operate within those boundaries. Kamal expresses his intention not to intrude into that established space and create films that may disrupt the current dynamics of the industry.

Shine Tom as lead

Kamal reveals that his initial choice for a role in his film, upon hearing the story, was Shine. He had a strong belief that Shine would be willing to accept any character that he offered him. Sharing his long-time association with Shine, Kamal said the actor was one who could handle any role. “Shine used to take up anything that was thrown at him as an enthusiastic youngster. Now, he is more careful about choosing roles,” Kamal said. Shine stands out among the newer generation of actors as someone unburdened by the constraints of his image.

Cinema and political correctness

Kamal reflects on the transformation that the film industry has undergone, distinguishing between the cinematic landscape of the 1980s and 90s and the more recent years. He notes that the films from that earlier era existed in a world entirely detached from reality, shaped solely by the creative vision of filmmakers. Characters in those films often had only a tenuous connection to the actual social realities.

However, in the past 10 to 15 years, cinema has witnessed a significant shift towards embracing the concept of political correctness, which has also seeped into society at large. Kamal acknowledges that during his earlier years in the industry, there was limited awareness or understanding of political correctness. Looking back, he now recognizes that some of the dialogues and content in those films would be considered politically incorrect by today’s standards.

Cinema and experiments

Kamal recognises that the evolution of cinema has often been driven by experimentation. He points out that films that adhere to typecasting and feature conventional protagonists do not always guarantee success. In contrast, movies with main characters who defy the conventional notions of a typical hero have often found success.

With ‘Vivekanandan Viralanu,’ Kamal aims to challenge these conventions and present a different kind of main character. He hopes that viewers will perceive the film in this light and appreciate the departure from the usual hero archetype.

Baffling numbers

Kamal expresses his bewilderment at the sheer volume of films released every year. He reminisces about the earlier criteria for becoming a full-scale director, which typically required being a graduate of a film institute and serving as an assistant director on several films. In contrast, contemporary filmmakers start on films with one short film to their credit and the backing of a producer. He speculates that advancements in digital technology could be one of the reasons behind the proliferation of films. However, Kamal cautions that an excess of films can potentially dilute the overall quality of cinema.

‘Pranaya Meenukalude Kadal’ did not receive the reception I expected: Kamal

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