Malayalam movie, starring Suraj Venjaramoodu, Tovino Thomas, and Aishwariya Lekshmi, gains appreciation for its theme, narration, and performance
Manu Ashokan has every reason to be delighted. His two films, Uyare (2019) and Kaanekkaane (streaming on SonyLIV) have ticked all the right boxes.
Yes Uyare was about a survivor of an acid attack, Kaanekkaane, starring Suraj Venjarmoodu led by Tovino Thomas and Aishwariya Lekshmi, is a family drama with elements of a thriller skillfully mixed with the story of guilt, revenge and redemption.
âWriters Bobby and Sanjay had shared the only verse in this story some time ago. We never got to work on it. We were preparing a different film when the pandemic interrupted our plans, âexplains Manu.
During the lockdown, they thought about a topic they could do within the confines of adhering to the COVID-19 protocol. This is how the film was born. The writers spoke to Manu about Paul Mathai, a bereaved father who suspects his son-in-law, who has remarried, of being involved in the accident and the death of his daughter Sherin. Then they developed the plot with a story of relationships and how it evolved. âIt’s a film about guilt and forgiveness. There can be more than one way to develop a plot. It was ours, âemphasizes Manu.
The actors had to be performers who would do the characters justice and also have an on-screen presence. “Suraj chettan amazed everyone with his story with each of his characters. It was the same with Tovino and Aishwariya Lekshmi. They’re all stars in their own right, but when they’re making a movie it’s their characters that count, not the screen space. This dedication empowers a director, âhe adds.
Manu explains that it was clear that if their game exceeded, the film would flounder and turn into a melodramatic saga. He asked each of them to keep it as realistic as possible. âThere are no action scenes or heavy dialogue to support the actors. Their inner turmoil and journey must be reflected subtly on their faces and in their body language. That was the challenge, âsays Manu.
Tovino doubted his acting was too underrated, but Manu insisted he was sticking to a measured portrayal of Allen, a man weighed down by his feelings of guilt. Tovino was the first actor to climb aboard, although he primarily played Suraj’s second violin in the film. Manu specifies that it is the actor’s passion for films that led him to play Allen, a character with many weaknesses.
Aishwariya as Allen’s second wife, Sneha, feared the character would harm her career because she was playing “the other woman.” Unlike many Malayalam films which justify, glorify or denigrate “the other woman”, Kaanekkaane makes no attempt to do so and portrays Sneha as a warm woman doing her best in a difficult situation.
âThere are no villains in the story. Circumstances cause people to make impulsive decisions with many ramifications. That’s what happens with the characters here. There is no attempt to justify their actions, âsays Manu.
Shot in and around Kochi, filming for the film began in November. With Suraj falling with COVID-19, they had to take a break and resume after his quarantine ended. âConsidering that it was shot at the height of a pandemic, we were lucky that filming resumed smoothly and we were able to finish the film. “
Manu is now preparing his third film, still with Bobby-Sanjay writing the screenplay.