In the second segment of the two-part interview, the Ninnila Ninnila director talks about the lessons he learnt by assisting Priyadarshan, the pressures of being IV Sasi’s son and his next projects
Ani IV Sasi
In the first part of the interview, writer and director Ani IV Sasi talked about his award-winning short film Maya and his debut directorial Ninnila Ninnila. In the concluding segment, the son of legendary director IV Sasi and actress Seema talks about assisting Priyadarshan, the pressures of first film and his upcoming projects.
You have assisted director Priyadarshan from 2010 to 2016 before you made your directorial debut. These days, you don’t see many youngsters go through the grind before making their debut film.
I wanted it to be more technically sound and didn’t want my first film to be a half-cooked product. The first thing I learnt as an intern during my second year of college was sound design with Rajetta, and then I joined Priyan sir. Towards the very end of that stint was when I began executing and production. That really helped in a lot of ways. I learnt a bit of animation, CGI and editing. I edited Priyan sir’s segment in Navarasa (Netflix anthology). When I give my inputs, I have to know what I am talking about. I do entirely depend on other technicians but I would also like to know what they are doing.
During Oppam in 2016, Priyadarshan had said that he surrounds himself with young writers and filmmakers to bounce off his ideas. You were part of that core group and you were also involved in the scripting of his magnum opus, Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham. So, is writing your strength?
Writing is probably one of my weaker assets. Why Priyan sir likes writing with me is because I am brutally honest. Even when I write for myself, it’s mostly just about the making of the scene or the angle or the music rather than the writing itself. I would love it if a writer and an editor can help me out.
Did you want to ensure that your first film was different from your father’s work?
That issue of what my first film should be did weigh on me for the longest time, even when I joined Priyan sir with the wish to become a director. But after acha passed away I kind of lost that desire; I mean I didn’t want to prove to anyone anymore. Filmmaking wasn’t something I needed to do to achieve something or be the best. It was something that gave me peace. I keep telling people that I don’t have personal goals – to get married at 30 and to have a kid at 35. I want to be on the sets and be shooting. That completes me. So, when I am doing something like this, having a responsibility to live up to something defeats that purpose.
You might not have had to look further for inspiration with the amount of stellar and path-breaking work that your father had done. Was this the case?
We draw inspiration from a lot of people, it’s not just one person. Actually, it’s a confusing mix of moments, stories, movies and people. I loved Inspector Balram (Avanazhi), Mangalassery Neelakandan (Devasuram) and several other roles. There are also a lot of other characters, authors and directors that have inspired me in other ways. Ninnila Ninnila itself is heavily inspired by Ratatouille. I really loved the ease with which that movie delivers the emotions, without any kind of suspense or reveal; it’s just a flow. I wanted that to come into my movie, if not anything else.
In Malayalam, we keep hearing these rumours that you are doing a film with either Pranav Mohanlal or Dulquer Salmaan. Is this true?
Not really. I have narrated stories to both of them. But nothing is confirmed. Hopefully, something will work out sometime soon because they are both really sensible people to work with. We need a good script and a good team for it to work out too.
What are you busy with next?
There is something in the pipeline. It’s someone else’s script. It’s got a really interesting premise that is completely different from the feel that I am bound to now. So, it’s kind of an experiment and a learning experience for me too. Let’s see how it goes.