Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s 12th feature film Pinneyum (Once Again) is out in cinemas on August 18. The movie has generated plenty of excitement as it comes eight years after Gopalakrishnan’s last movie, Oru Pennum Randanum. The director too sounds excited as the family drama is his first production to be made with digital technology. The movie will be released outside Kerala with English subtitles. Excerpts from an interview.
Is there any link between the film’s title and your comeback after eight years?
It was in 2008 that I made my last film, Oru Pennum Randanum [A climate for crime]. Pinneyum comes after eight years, which is the longest gap between my films. The title indicates my return to the film world. Many thought that Adoor had called it quits. With Pinneyum, I want to tell them that the 75-year-old is back in the saddle.
What is the theme of the movie?
Pinneyum examines the fallout of the excessive materialistic cravings that have afflicted our contemporary middle class society, which is ready to stoop to any level or compromise anything for wealth. Everyone wants to make money by hook or crook. They believe it will give them a reputation in the society. The middle class is increasingly falling prey to this false notion. Values are the biggest casualty in this search for excessive wealth and physical comforts. Pinneyum deals with individuals, families and the society.
Why did you pick Dileep, a popular actor who is good with comedy, and Kavya Madhavan for the lead roles?
Kavya worked with me in my 2007 movie, Nalu Pennungal [Four Women]. She is highly talented and works hard to achieve perfection. I have high regard for her commitment to work. Kavya was in my mind while writing the script. She plays Devi, a school teacher, and the role will be a turning point in her career.
Dileep is associating with me for the first time. I admire the actor in him, though he made a mark for himself with humorous roles. In fact, those who do comedy will have an uncanny knack in timing. His character, Purushothaman Nair, is a serious one, and he did it exceptionally well. The film also has many regulars in my projects, including Nedumudi Venu, Indrans, Vijayaraghavan and KPAC Lalitha. Besides, the movie introduces two new faces in Meera Nallur and Vishakh.
Were you anxious about using digital technology for the first time in ‘Pinneyum’?
It is my first movie in a digital mode. Change is inevitable as all aspects of filmmaking – shooting, editing, and projection have all gone the digital way.
Having made movies for the last 50 years using analogue technology, I was anxious and sceptical of migrating to the digital platform as I didn’t have any experience in using it. However, I picked the nuances as the shoot progressed. Pinneyum helped me learn the finer aspects of digital filmmaking.
What are the positive aspects of making a film in a digital mode?
Beginning with my first movie, Swayamvaram, till my last one, Oru Pennum Randanum, I used the analogue shooting method. At that time, the negative had to be sent to Chennai for processing every week. I would see the rushes after six weeks when I reached Chennai for editing. Moreover, it took a minimum of six months to complete one film.
In contrast, Pinneyum took just three months thanks to the digital technology. The shooting began on May 11, 2016, and the film got the censor board’s approval on August 10. We completed shooting in 23 days, editing in one week and dubbing in 12 days. Digital technology allows the director to run back to the shot and check that everything has gone well.
It also gives the liberty of shooting in a crowded place. We were able to capture Dileep walking on the busy Shangumugham beach in Thiruvananthapuram with the help of a hidden camera. The best thing about the shoot was that no one noticed the star in the crowd. Cinematographer MJ Radhakrishnan, editor B Ajith Kumar and sound editor Harikumar were brilliant in executing my plans to perfection.
Did you have to change your working style?
No. I used only one camera and worked according to a plan. I knew the story to the minute detail, and I gave importance to the characters and the narrative. I took only the necessary shots, though the digital medium gives you the liberty to shoot much more.
Has digital technology reduced production costs?
No. I used Arri Alexa, the costliest digital camera available in India at the moment. The rent itself cost us more than Rs 40,000 per day. One can make low-budget films using less expensive cameras, but it will affect the quality. I don’t want to compromise on the production quality and the aesthetic value.
What do you think about the new generation Malayalam filmmakers?
I like the works of Vipin Vijay, Sudevan and Sanal Kumar Sasidharan. They promise a great future for Malayalam cinema.
A committee headed by you submitted suggestions to improve Malayalam cinema to the previous government. What happened to the report?
The committee had recommended sweeping changes in the conduct of the International Film Festival of Kerala, the state film awards and the functioning of the Chalachitra Academy and the Kerala State Film Development Corporation. The panel had even recommended a Rs 25-lakh subsidy for 10 films every year through the academy to promote good cinema. The previous government headed by Oommen Chandy didn’t act upon our recommendations. I hope the new government, led by Pinarayi Vijayan, will implement them.