In the blink (or more accurately, wink) of an eye, Omar Lulu’s upcoming Malayalam romance Oru Adaar Love has become the stuff of headlines and memes, thanks to the raging popularity of its song Manikya Malaraya Poovi. In the music video, which was released on February 9, two school students have a romantic exchange across a crowded hall, their flirtations unfolding through eye contact. The video has made the expressive debutante Priya Varrier an overnight celebrity and has piqued interest in the movie, which is expected to be released in June. Excerpts from an interview with Omar Lulu, who has previously directed the films Happy Wedding (2016) and Chunkzz (2017).
What does the title of the film signify?
Oru Adaar Love means that one extraordinary love – a love that is superlative. The film will be out on Eid at the end of June.
It is a musical love story. There are eight songs in the film. The plot itself is about students at a higher secondary school. These are +2 students [Class 11 and 12]. Five heroes and four girls are the main characters. The film is about their lives, love and friendship. But one of these story lines is about what is precious love: oru adaar love. The audience has to decide which one comes across as that because ultimately the film is about different kinds of love.
One of those eight songs has gone viral.
Manikya Malaraya Poovi means a pearl flower that is very precious. It’s a Mappila paattu, a song sung by Muslims of the Malabar region during religious or other occasions. This particular song is about the love story of the Prophet Muhammad and his wife, Khadeeja. My mother has always loved this song and it was a part of my growing up.
Did you think the song would become such a sensation?
The song was originally written in 1978 by PMA Jabber and composed by Thalassery K Refeeque. But when I bought the rights, I knew people everywhere would connect with it.
Shaan Rahman has revisited the original composition and given it a freshness. Vineeth Sreenivasan’s voice works brilliantly. Shaan composed the song in three-four hours and emailed it to me. I loved it from the word go.
Since you’ve used a traditional Malabar Muslim song in a film, how has it been received?
People around the country, or rather around the world, are loving it. But there has been some opposition from some old Muslims in the community. They feel that a love song that is about the Prophet Muhammad and his wife in a film is insulting to Islam. But these people are in a small minority. I think the song is now reaching more people than it did originally.
What about Priya Prakash Varrier? She is quite the sensation.
Priya Varrier came to audition for a small part in the film. We selected her for that. The boy she winks at, Roshan Abdul Rahoof, did a great audition too. When I saw their rushes, I felt they were cute together. Then I asked him to do the eyebrow thing. I asked Priya if she could do it. She did too.
That’s how we shot it. It wasn’t hugely planned. We discussed it and did it. I think that spontaneity shows.
At 33, you’ve already have two hits, ‘Happy Wedding’ and ‘Chunkzz’. What is it in your films that connects with the audience?
Both my films had new faces. I think nowadays, people like newcomers being given a chance. Also, my films are about young people. I make my films for the youth. They’re the ones who come for first day shows.
Young people want entertainment. Malayalam cinema is realistic, but people also like being entertained. I personally am a Shah Rukh Khan fan and loved Chennai Express. Oru Adaar Love, inshallah, will prove once more that entertainment sells.