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Directing Melvilasom in 12 days

Last updated on: May 12, 2011 11:52 IST

Directing Melvilasom in 12 days

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Paresh C Palicha in Kochi

Soft-spoken filmmaker Madhav Ramadasan recently made his debut with the one of the most powerful experimental films in recent times called Melvilasom, in Malayalam.

The all-male cast includes names like Suresh Gopi, Parthipan, Nizhalgal Ravi and Thalaivasal Vijay. The film shows the court martial proceedings in a military court narrated in real time. It is adapted from the play with the same name by Soorya Krishnamoorthy.

In a freewheeling chat, Ramadasan reveals the challenging process of filming this story and his take on the aesthetics of cinema with nuggets like these: 'People think that a film is a success when the audience claps while watching it. But I wish to explore a higher realm where the viewer gets so engrossed in the film that he even forgets to clap.'

What was the inspiration behind making this film?

I was inspired by the play, which was written by Soorya Krishnamoorthy. It has everything that we look for in a film. People use different locations to show it. We had to convey it from a single location.

Image: Director Madhav Ramadasan with Nizhalgal Ravi

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'We have made minimum changes from the play-script'

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What kind of changes did you make in the adaptation? It is known that Soorya Krishnamoorthy had put strict conditions before giving you the go ahead.

Yes, Soorya Sir had put in some conditions like there should not be any female characters (as the story takes place in the 1970s when females were not employed by the army except as nurses) nor should there not be any flashbacks or songs. We have made minimum changes from the play-script.

He did not know that these were the same things that had attracted me to the play in the first place. It is only recently, after the release of the film, that he told me he had put forward those conditions to dissuade me from going ahead with the project. That was because he was concerned it would disappoint me as a newcomer if it got stuck or was not received well by the people.

How did you choose the actors?

Suresh Gopi was the first to be cast. Finding the right actor for playing Ramachandran (the main character) was difficult; he required certain physical attributes, until we zeroed in on Parthiban. His officer B D Kapoor had to be an aristocratic and arrogant man, which would bring instant aversion in the mind of the viewer.

Krishna Kumar, who is a popular television actor fitted the bill perfectly. I had Thalaivasal Vijay in mind for the role of the presiding officer, as I had liked him in films Thulluvadho Ilamai and others in Tamil.


Image: A scene from Melvilasom

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'I was carrying this film in my mind for the last four-five years'

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Was there an effort to cash in on Suresh Gopi's star image?

We were very clear that it would be a subtle performance. Like it was mentioned in the film that he would smilingly get to the truth. Still, he has been a superstar with so many years of experience behind him so some mannerisms are bound to seep in. But there was not a conscious effort as such.

How was the experience of actual shooting?

Surprisingly, I did not feel the tension of a newcomer, maybe because I was carrying this film in my mind for the last four-five years.

I was more concerned about the cast, as it was a courtroom scene and I needed everyone to be present all the time. Nobody could have been dispensed with, and if anyone had an emergency, the shooting would be stalled. So I was praying that such situation would not arise.

The shooting took around 10-12 days with one day spent on lighting the location and one for adjusting the costumes.


Image: A scene from Melvilasom

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'I hope that more newcomers get the opportunity to experiment'

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What are your feeling now that your film is out and being appreciated?

I am very happy and excited because people have accepted something that is experimental in a way.

It also gives me the responsibility to maintain the same standard and courage to push the line of experimentation a little further. I hope that more newcomers get the opportunity to experiment and there are people to support them too.


Image: A scene from Melvilasom

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