Abi Varghese’s Akkara Kazhchakal
Abi Varghese’s Akkara Kazhchakal revolutionised Malayali sitcoms by resorting to reality-based humour that resonated with all age groups.
So it was only apt that he wanted someone in the same vein for his debut directorial Monsoon Mangoes. The choice for him, though, was easy. “Fahadh Faasil has that subtle humour that we needed and it fit into that Akkara Kazhchakal brand of comedy,” beams Abi. “Working with him was fun. It’s a collaborative process. I am not someone who manually directs an actor on the set. I discussed the character in detail with Fahadh and he took it from there.”
Monsoon Mangoes is extensively shot in New Orleans, USA making it the first Malayalam film to be shot in the birthplace of jazz music. Abi says the decision to choose the vibrant, multi-cultural city was to steer clear of the usual metropolitan landscapes of New York and Los Angeles that are shown in Indian films.
“I wanted to show a side of America that not many people have seen and New Orleans’ got a French influence to it and the setting is small,” says Abi, who worked on the script with Matt Grubb and Naveen Bhaskar. The focus of the story though would be the US Malayalis.
“Wherever you go in the US —be it New York, New Jersey, San Jose — there are several Malayali communities. The movie is about one such community and about Fahadh’s character who is trying to pursue his dream among a group of misfits,” he gushes.
Apart from Fahadh, the comedy will star Tovino Thomas, Vinay Forrt, Ishwarya Menon, and it also has most of the cast of Akkara Kazhchakal. On the most challenging task of directing a movie compared to a sitcom, Abi says, “I used to get instant feedback for Akkara Kazchakal after every episode and I could then tweak and improve the characters later. But that’s not possible in films and that’s the hardest thing for me.”