Ratheesh Balakrishnan Poduval on ‘Sureshinteyum Sumalathayudeyum Hridayahariyaya Pranayakatha’ and his style of filmmaking

May15,2024


Suresh and Sumalatha are back. After romancing the audience with their courtship in Rathish Balakrishnan Poduval's blockbuster film Nana Than Case KoduThe lovebirds are back with their story Sureshinteyum Sumalathayudayum Hridayahariyaya Romantic Story (SSHP, The Heartwarming Love Story of Suresh and Sumalatha). Actors Rajesh Madhavan and Chitra S Nair reprise the same characters they have played with so much love Nnn Than…

Excerpts from an interview with the director and screenwriter who made his debut in 2019 Android Kunjappan version 5.25.

Rajesh Madhavan and Chitra S Nair reprized the characters of Suresh and Sumalatha from Nanna Than Kes Kodu in Sureshinteyum Sumalthaayudeyum Hridayhariya Pranayakatha.

Rajesh Madhavan and Chitra S Nair reprized the characters of Suresh and Sumalatha. Nana Than Case Kodu In Sureshinteyum sumalathayudayum hridayahariyaya romantic story.
, Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Suresh and Sumalatha's story is a spinoff from Blockbuster No place…

The characters were characters in a story. They were inspired by two people I know. In Nana Than…, They appear as witnesses but I thought they had an interesting back story that would be ideal for a movie. Since the audience welcomed Suresh and Sumalatha, Rajesh and I felt that their story would come out as a film.

And long title…

It is a film about two popular characters from the previous film. I wanted the audience to get the gist of the story from the title itself. It is a heart-warming story about Suresh and Sumalatha's romance and the title says exactly that. Besides, we have spent a lot of money on the film (laughs). So, we thought we'd go with a longer title. It's been a while since we've had this long for a movie!

Rajesh Madhavan and Chitra S Nair in a scene from Rathish Balakrishnan Poduval's Sureshinteyum Sumalthaayudeyum Hridayahariya Pranayakatha

Rajesh Madhavan and Chitra S Nair in a scene from Ratheesh Balakrishnan Poduval Sureshinteyum Sumalathayudayum Hridayahariyaya Romantic Story
, Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The characters feel like caricatures. Was this the creativity of an idea from an art director turned director?

This was done deliberately. Even the world they live in is strange, the same strangeness we see in the characters. The narrative also has the feel of a comic strip.

How much has your work as an art director influenced your films?

Very. Many of the ideas I could not explore while working as an art director are being used in the films I direct. That aspect is an inherent part of my storytelling. While shooting I enjoy the beauty and perfection of the work.

Are there any incidents you can share where your work as an art director intersected with your work as a director?

For example, the climax scene in this film required drama. I wanted a palace. Our art director is Mumbai-based KK Muraleedharan. When the final set was being prepared, I was on a foreign trip with my family. I was making sand castles with my child, when I called Murali aten, I told him that we needed a palace made of mud. And that's how it's designed. This is also how deeply life and art are intertwined with my cinema.

Where was this shot?

It has shot in Kasaragod and Kannur border areas, places like Chimeni, Kanhangad, Cheruvathur…

Both Nana Than… And in SSHP there are characters speaking Kasaragod dialect. Over the years, we have seen many films that highlight the dialect…

Rajesh Madhavan and Chitra S Nair in Rathish Balakrishnan Poduval's Sureshinteyum Sumalthaayudeyum Hridayahariya Pranayakatha

Rajesh Madhavan and Chitra S Nair in Ratheesh Balakrishnan Poduval Sureshinteyum Sumalathayudayum Hridayahariyaya Romantic Story
, Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Every dialect has its own charm. This diversity of dialects was not heard much in earlier films. There must have been apprehensions that it would not be easily understandable. Now, people travel and work at different places. The dialects of Kannur and Kasaragod have become mainstream. There is no need to convert it into formally spoken Malayalam. It is okay to keep the dialect and usage as it is. In fact, the audience enjoys it.

You included many new actors No place…Which became very popular. Has this been taken forward in this film as well?

But for the five actors (Rajesh, Chitra, Sudheesh, Jinu Jose and Sharanya), the rest are all from theatre. Many of them are newcomers in cinema and even as actors. They play an important role. About 20 to 25 actors are new to cinema.

How did you select them?

Rajesh Madhavan and Chitra S Nair reprized the characters of Suresh and Sumalatha from Nanna Than Kes Kodu in Sureshinteyum Sumalthaayudeyum Hridayhariya Pranayakatha.

Rajesh Madhavan and Chitra S Nair reprized the characters of Suresh and Sumalatha. Nana Than Case Kodu In Sureshinteyum sumalathayudayum hridayahariyaya romantic story.
, Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Contrary to the usual practice in cinema, we did the casting for this film first. The script then was a basic outline. Based on that, we selected actors who would be ideal for certain characters. We then improved the script by incorporating the actors' stories and experiences. Sometimes, we added their characters to the script only after knowing their behavior and qualities. The characters played by him are very similar to his characters in real life. Theater as an art form, rather than as a story, has a strong presence in this film. To show the evolution of theater in Kerala, where it stands today and the lives of the actors, we have borrowed from the real-life stories of our artists.

How difficult was this process? The development of the script seems to have been an organic process…,

The script was ready before starting the shooting. Searching for locations, casting and writing the script continued simultaneously. We had the complete story before we started location scouting and casting. But the characters' journey was shaped by many factors. While finalizing the script, we went back and made changes to it, decided on scenes that could be shot in one location, changed the set to suit the location… we decided how the casting would be local and appropriate to the scene. Must be consistent. We thought of all this before starting the shooting of the film. Of all the films I have directed so far, this was the most interesting to work on. It wasn't easy but I found the challenges interesting.

Your style of work is to draw and create sketches that show scenes, positions of actors, placement of frames, props, etc…

I communicate with my team through diagrams to avoid any miscommunication. I rely on sketches to show how I envision a set, to explain a frame to the director of photography, and to explain an editing pattern to the editor. I find it easy and there is no room for any doubt. I show the subjects in the foreground and background, what to include in a frame (even props), the point of view of the actors in the scene, etc. This makes the work of DOP easier.

Combining the story of Suresh and Suma with the old time famous song 'Aayiram Kanumaayi' Nokkethadhurathu kannum nattu, The characters' romance was filled with a touch of nostalgia. How much are you inspired by old classics and film songs?

In some situations music is the best way to improve the mood of a scene. Dialogue alone cannot suffice all the time. Typically, a background score is used. The old track can be used in place of the new composition. It has been used extensively in international cinema and also in India. I wanted a song that would go with the scenes in my cinema. That's how I chose 'Aayiram Kanamayi…'. There is something special about the song, it is a song that can connect well with a wide range of emotions. This becomes apparent when you sync it with different views. There is romance, the pain of separation and affection…the tune and lyrics lend themselves to different situations. It was kind of a lesson in how a song can enhance different moods. In Nana Than…, it is used in a humorous manner; It has been used in romantic scenes in this film.

This is a film in which there is no big name of cinema…

Rajesh Madhavan as Suresh in Sureshinteyum Sumalathayudayum Hridayhariya Pranayakatha.

Rajesh Madhavan as Suresh Sureshinteyum sumalathayudayum hridayahariyaya romantic story.
, Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

This is a risk. But I think the audience will appreciate the good humor. Moreover, the characters played by Rajesh and Chitra have already made a place in the hearts of the audience. Since the film is about him there was no question of changing him.

characters other than Nana Than… Will you get a place in this film?

Chakochan (Kunchako Boban) makes a guest appearance.

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