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Exclusive! Through Palthu Janwar, we wanted to tell a story with familiar faces and incidents: Sangeeth P Rajan

Palthu Janwar, which also has Indrans, Johnny Antony and Dileesh Pothan, is set to hit theatres on September 2

Exclusive! Through Palthu Janwar, we wanted to tell a story with familiar faces and incidents: Sangeeth P Rajan
Sangeeth P Rajan and (right) Basil Joseph and Johnny Antony in a still from Palthu Janwar
  • Sanjith Sidhardhan

Last Updated: 06.09 AM, Sep 01, 2022

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Since its first look poster and trailer, Basil Joseph-starrer Palthu Janwar evoked a sense of nostalgia as well as warmth that people who have lived in the villages of Kerala could easily relate to. Its director Sangeeth P Rajan says that’s all he had in mind too while making his debut film, which is gearing up for release on September 2.

Set in a high-range village, the movie revolves around a livestock inspector named Prasoon, essayed by Basil, and tells an earthy story about the incidents that happen when he takes up his new posting. In an exclusive chat with OTTplay, Sangeeth, who is making his debut with the film, tells us about the film, how he landed on the idea and more.

The 1990 film Dr Pasupathy is probably the last film that had used the similar rural setting to say the story of a protagonist who deals with animals. What led you to the theme of Palthu Janwar?

It wasn’t something that I had decided to do because of the contrast. The film’s scriptwriters – Vinoy Thomas and Aneesh Anjali – are both Malayalam teachers and the latter’s father had worked as a livestock inspector. So, when Aneesh mash shared an incident that had happened during his service, I found it catchy. The entire film doesn’t revolve around the incident but it had enough content to weave a film around it.

It's got a universal thought, as if it can happen anywhere. But where you place the film will dictate how the story evolves. Palthu Janwar is set in a village in the high ranges and we wanted to tell the story through faces that aren’t familiar to the audience. That’s how we landed on a veterinary department, placed our hero there and then decided on the various other characters he would meet.

Domestic animals are elemental to how this story is told, and working with animals is never easy.

Yes, because it’s never in our control. We have to check their comfort and then find a way of capturing what we want around that space and time. That’s how we have worked in the film. We have also used computer graphics and there was immense support from the art department headed by Gokul Das.

The movie has Basil Joseph, Johnny Antony and Shammi Thilakan, all of whom are fun to work with. Being you first film, did had help?

They were immensely supportive. Their characters too are laced with humour. Apart from them, the film also has a lot of newcomers. We have shot in the hilly terrains of Kannur and cast people from the region. We have also got people from Kottayam and Idukki including Jaya Kurup, who had played Fahadh Faasil’s mother in Malayankunju and Thankam Mohan. I believe all the actors have played their parts really well in this movie.

You have worked as the associate of Amal Neerad, who we tend to associate with stylish films. So, choosing a rooted-to-reality subject for your debut venture does come off as a surprise.

Stories don’t really happen at a moment’s notice. I had thought about other subjects for my first film and had even begun work on some of them, but during the pandemic it wasn’t viable to shoot such movies with a crowd. That’s when we thought about a smaller subject. A lot of thrillers were also coming out during the time. So, I wanted to do something that didn’t keep the audience on tenterhooks all the time; I wanted to give them something that was a breezy watch and that’s how we eventually landed on this subject. It's a simple movie that the audience would relate to. The characters in the film go through similar problems that a lot of us have faced in real life. The idea was to make a movie that people could instantly connect with.

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