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Prithviraj Sukumaran on Aadujeevitham – Blessy sir and I knew that the biggest challenge is the popularity of the book

"Tried to recreate the emotional journey of Najeeb in Aadujeevitham," says Prithviraj Sukumaran about the film, adding that they have not tried to adapt the book as is.

Prithviraj Sukumaran on Aadujeevitham – Blessy sir and I knew that the biggest challenge is the popularity of the book
Prithviraj Sukumaran as Najeeb in Aadujeevitham

Last Updated: 03.31 PM, Mar 26, 2024


When Prithviraj Sukumaran’s new film, Aadujeevitham, comes to theatres, he knows that it is a tale that pretty much every Malayali is aware of, or at least knows in parts. The film directed by National Award-winner Blessy is based on a massively popular Malayalam novel by the same name, written by Benyamin, which has not only had over 100 reprints, but also won a Kerala Sahitya Academy award. The English translation, The Goat Life, is also widely read.


Benyamin’s novel is based on the true-life account of Najeeb, a Malayali who was forced into slavery as a goatherd in Saudi Arabia and spent more than 3 years in the desert, and how he finally managed to escape this hell he was in. It’s a story that Najeeb has also told several times, so, in terms of ‘information’ Prithviraj and Blessy have nothing new to tell their audience. Why then did they take on the challenge of adapting such a popular book?

Speaking to the media in Bengaluru, Prithviraj admitted that the popularity of the book is a challenge that both he and the filmmaker were aware of. There were two things that the duo understood and realized at the very beginning – they would not be able to recreate the book as is. “Literature has the liberty of micro-detailing – a moment in Najeeb’s life could be 20 pages. It also has the opposite effect – months of Najeeb’s life could be only one paragraph. So, writing on print has that liberty that usually cinema does not, at least it doesn’t lend well to cinema. If we were to make a film based on all the information in the book, it would be a 12-13 hour film, which we can’t do,” says the actor.

Second, Prithviraj says that they cannot question a reader’s imagination. For instance, when someone reads the book, he/she would have imagined a Najeeb, a masra, their version of the desert. “We can’t show you a film and tell you that you were wrong. What can we do then? We can attempt to recreate the emotional journey of the character; a visual manifestation. What you feel when you read the book is what we hope you feel when you see the film,” says the actor.

One of the most moving moments for the team was the real Najeeb saw rushes of the film and teared up saying that everything came rushing back to him. “As traumatic an experience it was for him, for us, it was affirmation that if not exact, we got pretty close to what the man went through,” says Prithviraj.

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