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Bitter-sweet encounters

Bijith Bala   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

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Bijith Bala says his movie Nellikka is an all-out entertainer

Bijith Bala has been around for a while in Malayalam cinema. His tryst with filmdom began in 2003, with Ente Veedu, Appontem, in which he did the graphics. He went on to become an editor, a self-taught one at that, before turning associate director with the much-acclaimed Shutter. Being a director was the obvious way forward. His debut film Nellika reaches theatres today.

“Yes, directing a film has been on my mind for quite some time. I had begun working on a script, but then I came across a script by P.R. Arun and decided to make a film on that,” says Bijith. The film, he adds, cannot be strait-jacketed into any particular genre. “It is a mix of genres. It is a musical – there are as many as seven songs in the film, but it’s also a family drama. There is suspense as well, though I wouldn’t call it a thriller,” he says.

He is delighted that the music has already been received well. “All the songs are composed by Bijibal and are quite popular in FM radio stations. Prakash Marar has penned four songs, while Santhosh Varma has written two. There is also a song by Rafeeq Ahmed. While one is a Sufi song, there is a Western song and a melody composed in the Baburaj mould rendered by composer Berny. The film is in a way a tribute to Baburaj, as well. Hari Master, one of the main characters in the film, is a big fan of Baburaj’s music. Sashi Kumar is playing that character,” says the director.

While Hari Master swears by Baburaj, his son, Balu, is an admirer of Bob Marley. He also heads an amateur band. Deepak essays that role.

The film focusses on certain unexpected turns in the life of Balu. “He is studying outside Kerala and the story takes off when he comes home for his sister’s wedding. He has some reservations about his brother-in-law. To make matters worse, the newlyweds start living in the family home and that creates problems for Balu,” elaborates the director.

Atul Kulkarani, winner of two National awards, who made an impact in Bollywood with films such as Hey Ram and Chandni Bar, also plays a major role, as the brother-in-law of Balu. “Atul dons the role of a bank manager who grew up in Delhi. He is in fact one of the highlights of the film. The plot thickens when he begins living with his in-laws,” the director says.

Sija Rose, who plays the female lead, Mamukoya, Bhagath, debutante Parveena Sultana, Koottikkal Jayachandran and Sunil Sukhada are also in the cast. Kunjunni S. Kumar, son of S. Kumar, makes his debut as cinematographer in the film.

“The film is not going to be overly visual, in the sense that we are not showing violence in graphic detail. You can establish certain things with just the dialogues and references. Nellikka is like a breezy novel you can read on a pleasant afternoon,” says Bijith.

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Printable version | Mar 12, 2018 1:42:15 PM | http://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/bijith-bala-on-his-film-nellikka/article6936750.ece