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Anweshippin Kandethum director: When people recall February 2024 of Malayalam cinema, they will also talk about my film

Darwin Kuriakose, the director of Anweshippin Kandethum that is streaming on Netflix now, talks about what went into making the Tovino Thomas-starrer and its box office run

Anweshippin Kandethum director: When people recall February 2024 of Malayalam cinema, they will also talk about my film
A still from Anweshippin Kandethum and (R) Darwin Kuriakose

Last Updated: 01.43 PM, Mar 08, 2024


February 2024 will be remembered for a long time by the Malayali audience as well as those from the industry. While movies like Mammootty’s Bramayugam, Naslen and Mamitha Baiju’s Premalu and Soubin Shahir and Sreenath Bhasi’s Manjummel Boys are the most-talked about for their box office success, the month also saw the release of Tovino Thomas’ Anweshippin Kandethum that also won critical and commercial acclaim.

The film, an investigative thriller helmed by debutant Darwin Kuriakose, is now streaming on Netflix in Malayalam, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada. In an exclusive interview with OTTplay, the filmmaker opens up about the ‘Fab Feb’ of Malayalam cinema, what went into making the movie and more.


Do you feel that Anweshippin Kandethum didn’t get its due as there were other good films too this February, including Premalu, Bramayugam and Manjummel Boys?

Not at all. As far as I am concerned, when people discuss this historic February in Malayalam cinema, my movie will also be part of those conversations. Also, the kind of reception that we had expected for Anweshippin Kandethum was exactly what we got too. So, there is nothing to be disappointed about. The producers are happy and the movie did make money at the box office. But when all four films work, there will be variations in terms of how much each movie has made, and I believe it has impacted not just our film but every other movie. That said, I am happy that the movie did well.

The film’s scriptwriter Jinu Abraham had earlier told us that you wanted to direct another script first, but then had to change plans because it was hard to pull off. Anweshippin Kandethum, in that regard, wasn’t an easy project either in terms of the structure of the script. Was it deliberate that you wanted to take up a tough project even though it was your first crack at directing?

When I do a film, I want people to notice it somehow. I am someone who watches almost all movies that are released in theatres in a year, and so, when people go and watch my movie, I want them to also appreciate its director. I am not saying we have to Baahubali or KGF to accomplish this; even when we do a normal film, it can have those elements and be a success. That’s why I had planned another subject with Jinu first . But that came with its set of practical difficulties, especially for a new director.

Tovino Thomas played the role of SI Anand Narayanan in Anweshippin Kandethum
Tovino Thomas played the role of SI Anand Narayanan in Anweshippin Kandethum

That’s when Jinu guided me to this script. He said it was different because it dealt with two varied types of investigations and the characters’ mindsets cannot be the same for the two cases. That I thought was challenging and was also the reason I wanted to do Anweshippin Kandethum.

Having an artiste like Tovino, who was easier to communicate with, also helped. When I formed my team too, I wanted people whom I could work with comfortably. We shot the second half of the film first, starting with the climax. So, we had to communicate exactly what his character was going through at that time. Tovino is someone who wants to ensure that his roles are different from each other and would go to any extent to make that happen.

Tovino Thomas in a still from Anweshippin Kandethum
Tovino Thomas in a still from Anweshippin Kandethum

Even in terms of technicians, having established talents like editor Saiju Sreedharan and composer Santosh Narayanan, would have helped a lot. But was it difficult putting together such a team, especially for a debutant?

I have to thank the producers for that. As you mentioned, because I am a first-time director, getting such talent also comes with higher remuneration. But the producers were fine with getting onboard whoever I was comfortable with. I didn’t know any of these people beforehand. When I went to Saiju, he was busy with editing Naradan. I gave him the script and told him, ‘After reading this, you can tell me what you feel, because after I shoot the film and it reaches the editing table, I will lose all objectivity.’ I told him my intention of having him as an editor was that he would be able to see a film that I didn't see in the footage. And he was extremely supportive and did exactly that. We know their talent, and we go to them based on the films that they have worked in, in the past. So, you can wholeheartedly trust them.

It was the same with the cinematographer, Gautham Sankar. Initially, it was supposed to be another DOP but he couldn’t be part of it due to scheduling conflicts and that’s why we approached Gautham. His film Thankam hadn't been released back then, but based on his movies like Theevandi, I knew what he is capable of.

Even getting Santosh Narayanan was challenging, primarily because they aren’t people who are interested in doing a lot of movies. They want to do films within their comfort zones. Remuneration and everything are secondary to them. As a newcomer, I didn’t have any problem repeatedly following up with them to rope them in. After doing the film, I have been able to establish a personal equation with all of them, and they were all supportive.

A poster of Anweshippin Kandethum
A poster of Anweshippin Kandethum

The film also hugely benefits from its supporting cast – be it Shammi Thilakan, Madhupal, Baburaj or Kottayam Nazeer. It also reminds you a lot of yesteryear crime thrillers that had a lot of red herrings in place through its characters.

We had announced this film in 2021. After that we had about two years to work on the film. I wanted the people who are part of Tovino’s squad to be different from the familiar faces. That’s how I thought of Vineeth Thattil, Pramod Velliyanad and Rahul Rajagopal. We also had two casting directors – Milind and Vivek – who came up with alternatives in case we couldn’t get the actors we had in mind due to date issues or if they didn’t like the script.

In the first half, there are a lot of new faces, whom we cast through auditions. For the veteran actors, again, we have seen them perform earlier and so, it was my responsibility to ensure they were comfortable on sets for me to extract the kind of performance I wanted out of them.

What are you busy with next?

I am now at Kulamavu for the scripting of my next project. But it’s only taking shape; it’s too soon to make any announcements regarding it.

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