The director of Antony Varghese-starrers Swathandhryam Ardharathriyil and Ajagajantharam talks about the success of his latest venture and his next film
It’s been a mad couple of weeks for director Tinu Pappachan. Since the theatrical release of the Antony Varghese-starrer, the filmmaker and his team have been visiting theatres across Kerala to promote the movie as well as gauge the reactions for the action thriller, set against the backdrop of a temple festival.
Even as Tinu answers this call from OTTplay, he is in the middle of another theatre visit, but he still makes time to talk to us. Considering the pandemic and the restrictions, it’s almost unthinkable to pull off a movie such as Ajagajanthram, which has so many crowd sequences, in the distant future. A fact that is not lost on the director either.
“It's a huge boon to complete the shoot of the movie ahead of the pandemic,” he admits. “We didn’t hear of COVID-19 even on the day we finished shooting in March 2020. But after that we have had to wait for almost two years to see the film release in theatres. What’s heartening is the feedback from the audience, who have accepted the film with arms wide open.”
Ask him about the experience of watching an atmospheric thriller like Ajagajantharam with the audience in multiple theatres across the State and he says, “It gives me immense joy to watch the audience celebrate watching our movie in cinema halls. They are applauding and dancing. As far as I understand, cinema is a visual language and it’s enjoyed and experienced the best when it’s watched in theatres with others. This is also one of the reasons we have been visiting a lot of theatres lately.”
Considering that Tinu has also collaborated with Antony and scriptwriters Kichu Tellus and Vineeth Vishwam since Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Angamaly Diaries, in which he had assisted the filmmaker, how easy was it to make Ajagajantharam? “Antony was the one who brought me the subject. While Lijo chettan was initially attached to it, he didn’t want to do another movie centred on an animal again after Jallikattu,” says Tinu. “When they narrated the story, I could connect well with it because we have a lot of temple festivals in my hometown Kottarakkara. Plus, the advantage of working with friends is that once we got the producer, we could organise everything quickly and all of us put forth our sincere efforts.”
Lijo had also first purchased the film’s rights and given its title. With the team considering him a mentor of sorts, what was his feedback after watching the movie? “Lijo chettan watched the movie in our mixing studio. As soon as he finished seeing the movie, he said, ‘It has come out really well and it will work well in theatres’,” says Tinu.
A grouse that many had raised against Ajagajantharam was that though the movie presented a different experience, it didn’t have a solid story. The director counters this and says, “Not all movies need to have in-depth stories and characters. Some films are based on situations. Ajagajantharam travels through such incidents that happen in a place. I also looked at the film with the perspective.”
With his two action entertainers seeing success in the box office, what next? “I have a movie with Jayasurya coming up but we are yet to finalise the dates,” he says.
Incidentally, there has also been a rumour of Tinu teaming up with Mohanlal for a movie. On whether the project is on, the director tells us, “I had narrated a story to Lal sir and that too sometime ago. While there have been discussions, there is still no clarity on whether the project will happen or not.”