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Anweshippin Kandethum writer Jinu Abraham: When you decide to do a ‘mass’ film, don’t look for ‘class’ in it | Exclusive

Jinu Abraham explains why certain recent ‘mass’ films failed to work at the box office and his inspiration for writing a crime drama like Tovino Thomas’ Anweshippin Kandethum

Anweshippin Kandethum writer Jinu Abraham: When you decide to do a ‘mass’ film, don’t look for ‘class’ in it | Exclusive
Jinu V Abraham (Left) and stills from King of Kotha, Kaduva and Malaikottai Vaaliban

Last Updated: 01.55 PM, Feb 08, 2024


Malayalam star Tovino Thomas will kick off 2024 with Anweshippin Kandethum, which already promises to be another interesting addition to the actor’s filmography post-pandemic. That the film is scripted by Jinu Abraham, who had written Prithviraj Sukumaran’s Adam Joan, Masters and Kaduva, only hypes it further – given how the writer has consistently experimented with his scripts.

In an exclusive OTTplay interview ahead of the movie’s theatrical release on February 9, Jinu, who is also co-producing the Darwin Kuriakose directorial, talks about his inspirations for the Tovino-starrer, why certain ‘mass’ films fail at the box office and more.


You have directed Adam Joan and have written for filmmakers such as B Unnikrishnan and Shaji Kailas. But this is the first time that you are writing for a debutant filmmaker. So, how did Anweshippin Kandethum take shape?

Darwin Kuriakose was the assistant director of Adam Joan and he had been trying to helm a movie for a long time, including approaching actors for it. But it didn’t materialise. I had a subject that I wanted to work on since 2011 and he knew that. It was a project that I had worked with directors but it never took off for various reasons. When he heard that thread, he asked me if he could direct it. I told him that there were practical difficulties and several filmmakers had tried their hand at it and failed. He was adamant that he wanted to do it, and I thought to give it another shot. But halfway, Darwin also realised that it was tough to pull it off and he started to worry.

I told him that I had another subject that I will be scripting next and if he is interested, he can direct it. He was apprehensive if producers would fund a big project like this with a debutant at the helm. I said to leave all that to me. So, I completed the script during the pandemic lockdown and called Tovino immediately. He liked the theme of the film and then we roped in a good team for it. That’s how it took off.

The movie, which is inspired by several real-life incidents, is set in the early 90s. When you set an investigative thriller like this in a period setting, there are obvious advantages of not worrying about technology as it lets you bring in more mystery elements that might not be possible in today's day and age. But what were the main challenges?

As you said, there’s advantages; you know when it’s set in an era where there’s no phone or CCTV, the investigation becomes more complicated. That said, how you probed a crime in the 90s depended on a lot of assumptions and evidence that wouldn’t have taken place in films set today when forensic science has advanced. Those were the challenges posed while writing the screenplay.

A crime drama is something that I have been wanting to do since Adam Joan, and so I was prepared to write that. Movies like Yavanika, Kanathaaya Penkutty and Oru Kanni Koodi were my inspirations for that.

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

A crime drama would also require you to focus more on the character development, and that at times comes at the cost of the movie’s pace. How did you balance that?

Anweshippin Kandethum will be the most engaging to the audience only if they understand the journey of its central character of Tovino’s Anand Narayanan and those with him. I have also tried to experiment with different formats of screenplay in the movie; that’s what excited me the most. That was my biggest challenge and my worst fear – to effectively convey it to the audience.

In Malayalam, we have had so many great investigative thrillers and so when you do another film in that genre, it has to be different and new. This movie has all of that. Whether it will work or not, we can only say after its release.

Prithviraj Sukumaran in a still from Kaduva
Prithviraj Sukumaran in a still from Kaduva

Your previous film Kaduva had the age-old template of a ‘mass’ movie – and yet it worked in the box office. So, when you try and present a film with a different format, is it tricky for writers and filmmakers to be convinced that the Malayali audience would appreciate the novelty?

I am someone who loves to write both types of movies. I believe that the plot of my debut film Masters was something new and is still fresh; we can still make different movies based on that format. In the case of Adam Joan, its visual language and plot weren’t something that Malayalam cinema was familiar with, and that’s why I wanted to do that film.

With regard to Kaduva, it’s a movie that resembled the type of films in the 90s that have thrilled the audience but went missing in the recent years. I wrote it because I wanted to watch such a film again. When you do a ‘mass’ movie, you shouldn’t look for ‘class’ in it. Don’t stick to your signature styles and fool the audience trying to say that this is how ‘my mass movie is’. If that’s the case, you shouldn’t present it as a ‘mass movie’ at all. This is why a lot of recent films that released didn’t work.

Prithviraj, Shaji Kailas, Listin Stephen and Jinu V Abraham
Prithviraj, Shaji Kailas, Listin Stephen and Jinu V Abraham

I knew that it would backfire if I compared Kaduva to my previous movies and tried to bring a certain ‘class’ to it. It’s not like I can’t bring in new elements to what I write. That said, it’s not like Kaduva was like a Telugu mass movie either. I still look at the movie as something like what Renji Panicker and Dennis Joseph had written in the 80s and 90s. If I had tried to make it more ‘classy’, then the reviewers would have said that it was a failed attempt at making a ‘mass’ film. I am satisfied with how it turned out and I proved it to myself that I can write a movie like that.

Having delivered a ‘mass’ film, do filmmakers now approach you with more such projects?

I am not someone who can work like that, purely because I don’t know how to do that. There are writers, whom I look up to as mentors, who do that. But my next script will always be something that I want to see on screen, and the project will take off only when a filmmaker, who shares the same confidence in that script as me, comes in. I couldn’t find a director to helm a movie like Adam Joan, and that’s the reason I did it.

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