Amal Neerad shares his thoughts!
Amal Neerad achieved the rare feat of making an interesting period film with his latest offering, Iyobinte Pustakam, set in the 1940s and 50s. The director speaks about the making of the film; his views on cinema and more in an interview.
The weaving of fiction and reality worked well in Iyobinte Pustakam. How did you do the research?
A story with Munnar as the backdrop had been on my mind for a long time and we were doing research on it. The story is entirely fictional but those incidents could very well happen, considering the socio-political scenario of the age. Besides referring to books and photographs, we spoke to a lot of real people to learn the subtle details. There was this person in his 70s who lived in Munnar in his youth, who had even been involved in historical incidents. We made him part of our film unit.
The villagers still speak of an incident where a pregnant tribal woman was kicked by the tea plantation owner’s goondas, leading to an abortion. The villagers later bashed up the goondas. People used to listen to Tamil songs during that age, which is why the songs in the background are always in Tamil.
There are invariably gun fights in your films and Iyobinte Pustakam too had a liberal dose of them…
Many have asked whether my films have been inspired from Hollywood, but in real, I am inspired by different genres of films from all over the world – the South East and even Far East. And there were actually gunsmiths in Munnar during the 1950s, who dealt with British guns. Till the 90s, hunting was legal in Kerala.
But to answer the question, it is only in our industry that we have this notion of some genres of films being superior to others. In world cinema, all genres are given due importance; Akira Kurosawa’s films have fight sequences involving Samurai warriors while Takeshi Kitano’s films have gun fights.
Here we have a false premise about what ‘good cinema’ is, which is puritan and elitist. But a new generation is coming up who are watching all kinds of films, who are exposed to films from all over the world, their tastes cannot be manipulated and they will make good films of all genres tomorrow.
While Bachelor Party had a dance number by Padmapriya, Iyobinte Pustakam had one by Amala Paul…
In Iyobinte Pustakam, the posters which adorn the room where Padmapriya spends her days are those of Hollywood films of the age. There might be people in the audience who notice and appreciate such details. In the same way, there are others who enjoy a dance number; many even told me they liked it best.
There are different kinds of audiences and I want my films to communicate to all of them; young and old. Also, we have not tried any sleaze in it. I am someone who carries the burden of a film school (laughs) and so will always aspire to make commercial films.
Do you feel you have evolved as a director after your last outing, Bachelor Party? While Bachelor Party had a much criticised unhappy ending, this film has a happy one…
I have always maintained that I have no regrets about Bachelor Party. My journey in films is continuing because of it. As for the criticism it received, it is all part of the game. I am just five films old and consider myself an amateur filmmaker trying to better my craft. But I’m someone who wishes to make movies till I die. And the ending is all about perspective; in Bachelor Party, Nithya Menen’s character escapes with her child at the end; that can be viewed as a happy ending.
I am thinking of a project with Dulquer Salmaan, but there are no concrete plans. I take things very slow. I’ve done only one film a year in the past three years. But I might do the cinematography for Anwar Rasheed’s film and any other project by enterprising youngsters which interest me.