On the Genesis and Making of “Ramante Edanthottam”

When did i first think of making Ramante Edanthottam?

I think it was in 2009 after Passenger..I was exhausted and looking for a change. Finally reached a resort in  Nelliyampathy. It was a special resort.. the mornings were like heaven and the evenings were even more beautiful. I woke upto a monkey leading a flock of goats..trees talking to themselves…

On the morning of the 2nd day I took a jeep for a trek to Mampara. The Jeep driver struck me immediately. He had a big stick to scare away tigers and elephants:). We reached the peak after a great ride and I felt I was so close to nature.I was still working in software then.It was like a new world opening up before me..

In the 4 days that I stayed there I was pretty sure I was gonna shoot a romantic movie there. I could smell romance all around there. Raman was formed there as a skeleton from a combination of that jeep driver and that resort owner.

Years passed and I visited the resort every time I passed through Palakkad. I would drive upto Nelliyampathy and be there for few hours to feel Ramans world.

It was a scary movie to make, so I kept it aside every time. After Pretham I suddenly felt if I don’t make it now may be I might never make it in my career. Chackochan (Kunchacko Boban) was equally excited to be Raman and even agreed to spend 3 months for preparation.

Sadly by the time I wanted to shoot it ,the resort in Nelliyampathy was not fitting enough.Across the years it had transformed into something modern, not Ramans world. I thought I may never find Ramans Edanthottam. Then it was Bijibal (popular music composer) who suggested Vagamon Heights. He had composed for Munthirivallikal Thalirkkumbol over there.

I write dialogues for my movies very late. I went to Vagamon Heights while I was through half of it and weeks into shoot.The moment I reached the place I could see the scenes playing out in front of me there. The mud paths,rustic rooms,lakes, mountains, estate, forest.. the place even had the horse and dogs that were there in my script.It was like a location waiting for me ready to shoot there.

The moment I saw the place all little apprehensions in my mind regarding the movie had faded away. It was destined to be made and to be shot there.I only had to follow the flow..I have experienced this in a few films and the moment you realize it you are relieved. The world will conspire for the rest to fall in place..

I still didn’t have a heroine. Many leading stars were ready to give both their hands to be Malini. But somehow I felt only the freshness of a newcomer can make it work. I met 100’s of newcomers but nothing clicked.

Anu Sithara happened to come on board just days before the shoot.I went to meet her to say a polite NO.But the moment I saw her I saw Malini.I gave her a dialog and it turned out that she was indeed Malini.

There was no looking back from there. I am writing this when I am on this fag end of my journey through this film. All I can say is that I am in love with it right now. I want to be detached from it as soon as possible so that i can take your views on it realistically.

May 12 it is then…


Ranjith Sankar


Note: Ranjith Sankar is a prominent writer,director and producer, having made well known Malayalam films like Passenger, Arjunan Saakshi, Molly Aunty Rocks, Punyalan Agarbattis, Varsham, Su Su…Sudhi Vathmeekam and Pretham.

Continue reading “On the Genesis and Making of “Ramante Edanthottam””

The Best of Malayalam Cinema in 2015: A Perspective

At the very outset while I do feel that 2015 wasn’t an exceptional year for Malayalam Cinema, there were some interesting films and certain interesting trends were noticed as well. The number of releases overall dipped a bit this year, with an overall number of 153 releases (140 straight and 13 dubbed releases) compared to 163 last year. There were disruptions to the movie business seen in the form of the exhibitors association shutting down the theatres in Kerala on 2 separate occasions. While in July we saw a strike (thankfully only for a day) due to protest over the piracy controversy surrounding Alphonse Putharen’s Premam, we saw the the Christmas releases being threatened thanks to the strike over the Government’s decision to introduce a Rs. 3 cess on tickets intended to be used for helping poor artists of the industry with a monthly pension. There were quite a few films which saw success at the box office, including 3 bonafide blockbusters, all of them bringing in a fresh aspect of filmmaking.Continue reading “The Best of Malayalam Cinema in 2015: A Perspective”

Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam: Trailer

Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam PosterAfter their successful outing in the form of Punyalan Agarbathis, writer-director Ranjith Sankar and actor Jayasurya join hands once again with the Malayalam film,Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam. Based on a true story,the film is produced by Ranjith Sankar and Jayasurya and features Jayasurya in the lead along with Mukesh, Aju Varghese, Shivatha, Sunil Sukhada, T.G.Ravi,KPAC Lalitha etc.Music is by Bijibal while Vinod Illampally is the DOP and V.Saajan is the editor.Continue reading “Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam: Trailer”

All About ‘Su Su Sudhi Valmeekam’

Just one week to go for the shoot of my next film, Su Su Sudhi Valmeekam, a film I’ve been wanting to do for ages.

It started as a random idea in early 2000s as one of the potential movies that could cherish my dream of making a movie. Passenger was one among them then.Interestingly both were inspired from different traits of a close friend and my cubicle mate in office then,Sudheendran.The hook in susu was some unique peculiarities in Sudhi and it seemed a totally unexplored area in movies.

Su Su Sudhi Valmeekam PosterInitially susu was conceived as a “local” romantic comedy between a rather peculiar software engineer and a diametrically opposite music teacher mostly happening in a train (ala passenger).I tried to pitch the story to couple of young actors and Directors(dream was to be a writer then:)).Somehow nothing materialised.

Passenger was hooking people more easily as in the idea.All the years Passenger took to make and during the desperation in between susu used to pop in.Sudhi was also coping up with challenges in job, life etc etc. I started interacting with some of his “special” doctors.Some peculiar weekly groups he visited looked super exiting in a movie. I got married in between and again Sudhi’s peculiar condition to ‘Pennu Kanal was that he would see only one girl and that would be his wife:)

It happened exactly like that and he got married.He was looking for a change of job. We attended many job interviews together during this time. Me looking for a break from my failed movie attempts, him for an actual change in job.The software engineer,music teacher,the train and the genre kept changing their premises to suit the changes in the story.

Sudhi found another job finally and decided to relocate to Banglore. Probably a tough call away from home but that was life.

Passenger happened. Opportunity for another movie came with its success. Varsham,Arjunan Sakshi and susu were the best probables.To my complete dismay a highly appreciated international film released then and it dealt the same subject although both were different movies. The fire to make it immediately vanished with it and Arjunan Sakshi happened.

I met Sudhi one of those days in Banglore.He was trying hard to cope up with Banglore and his new life. The story was extended to Banglore and it took a new shape from there.Many friends tried to collaborate to give it new dimensions. The project was announced.It was about to be made then.But what stopped us then was the strong feeling that something was wrong. The script needed more depth, it needed a lot of preparation time for actors to play the parts given its complexities.It was a difficult movie to be made for its cost,commerce and everything. That gut feeling always has proved right for me. For sure it was a movie to be made but only with complete confidence. Susu was again pushed.

The wait continued. Molly Aunty Rocks, Punyalan Agarbathis and Varsham happened. The success of Varsham made me think of susu again.There was a space for susu.

I went to Banglore and met Sudheendran again. He was a completely confident, changed n purified man now when he came to pick me in his new car, talking to his Punjabi neighbour,having his game of evening badminton,his weekend hangout partners,his family vacation plans, his same love for his village and ulsavams but from a different angle..

SuSu was complete that evening.It took 15 years and 15 years of a person’s life virtually and probably it was all worth it.

Su Su Sudhi Valmeekam-Ranjith Sankar and JayasuryaNow it needed an actor who had the time and potential to play him. Jaysurya was an obvious choice. Jayan himself told me he won’t work for 45 days to prepare for Sudhi.Even more difficult was the decision was to produce it given its budget,effort and risk involved.Jayan stood as a pillar of support and we are producing it together once again after Punyalan Agarbathis.

Creating music for susu was tricky. It needed songs which suited the story at the same time popular. Bijibal and Santhosh Varma took up the challenge and it took us 3 months to create them:) .

As I write this I get a detailed message from Sudhi on how to improve the climax a bit more..We offered him credits and remuneration for susu. He refused both claiming he’s not a writer despite having contributed to almost all unique situations for susu.We insisted on both as it would be very unfair from our part and finally he obliged.

A day later I receive a message from him saying he donated the entire amount to a fund raising program he was part of all these years which was lacking funds and which could support many many more susu’s.

I smiled reading it. This was what susu was all about…

Humility, humanity peace and happiness!

Ranjith Sankar

Note- We at MAM wish Ranjith Sankar and his team all the very best for his new film, Su Su Sudhi Valmeekam.






The Best of Malayalam Cinema in 2014: A Perspective

While doing a similar exercise around the same time last year I found it hard to do the analysis of the year that’s coming to an end in terms of Malayalam Cinema’s output. This was especially true while compiling my list of the best 10 films of the year, but this time around the process has been a lot simpler. In a way it is a little alarming as that means the quality of films has dipped a bit as there haven’t been too many films to short list and fight among themselves for a spot in the compilation. While the year began on a cautious note thanks to the satellite T.V. deals not happening like before, resulting in many films from late 2013 waiting in the cans finally releasing one, by one, eventually the year still saw 163 releases (apparently 150 straight releases and 13 dubbed releases). The year saw a few films doing very well commercially, not all of them featuring big stars. Also as usual a few good films were given the miss by the audience despite the good reviews.Continue reading “The Best of Malayalam Cinema in 2014: A Perspective”

Varsham Movie Review: An Emotional Journey that Hooks You Smoothly

Leading a family life i.e. being married and later on becoming a parent isn’t easy at all. What looks routine and mundane to many, is actually a daunting task in my opinion. Yes it’s a stage in life that most people go through, whether by choice or design or both. And everyone handles it differently. But does becoming a husband/wife and later on a father/mother change the way you think? Does it affect the way you interact with the rest of your family and friends, or the people around you overall? Does it take away or add anything to your personality overall? And if you change as a person, is it for better or worse? These are some odd thoughts which have always struck my mind in some form or fashion at various times, but now I feel it’s all the more relevant to reflect upon all these things having watched writer-director Ranjith Sankar’s latest Malayalam film over the weekend, Varsham.Continue reading “Varsham Movie Review: An Emotional Journey that Hooks You Smoothly”

Thoughts on Mammootty and ‘Varsham’

Varsham is my latest (Malayalam) feature film which got released this week (November 6th onwards) in Kerala, major centres across India and also in various locations overseas. I am overwhelmed with all the box office reports and the reviews coming in from all kinds of sources. Obviously while I am pleased and happy to acknowledge all this, I also feel this is the right time to reflect back upon working with the one & one only Mammootty aka Mammukka while making Varsham.Continue reading “Thoughts on Mammootty and ‘Varsham’”

All About ‘Punyalan Agarbathis’

Punyalan AgarbathisAfter Molly Aunty Rocks I was looking at initially working on either Sudhi Valmeekam or Mayflower, both projects having Prithviraj in the lead. But sometimes destiny has something else in store for you and that’s how Punyalan Agarbathis came into existence. Continue reading “All About ‘Punyalan Agarbathis’”

Molly Aunty Rocks: Ranjith Sankar is in his element once again

Benjamin Franklin had once said famously – In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.

What does an ordinary man or woman do when faced with the wrath of the Income Tax Department that comes out to hound you? As somebody who was puzzlingly served an IT notice a year back, I can relate to the scare that Income Tax can create in one’s life.

Molly Mammen (Revathy) is an unlikely protagonist – a slightly elderly woman whose family is in US, who comes back after a long leave to continue working in her small little job in a public sector bank in Nemmara in Palakkad. She is a committed hardworking employee who can brook no nonsense and is willing to fight her way out of any situation, if she believes she is right about it. She sells her husband’s ancestral property, takes a voluntary retirement from her job and is about to return to her family in the US when she runs into the iron hands of the Income Tax department and the battle begins to prove her innocence!

You first see Molly as she comes late for a religious family function and bangs her car onto the priest’s scooter, knocking it down (a symbolic rejection of conventions?). Family gossip marks her out as being unwelcome to the family and her sleeveless dress does not help matters. As the daughter of a Communist leader, rebellion is in her genes and she isn’t someone who can be knocked around that easily. She is liberal-minded but adamant, egoistic and you’d have to admit that diplomacy is not her forte.

Molly isn’t a firebrand woman out to change the world making fiery speeches or a staunch feminist but somebody who is willing to make the best of her situation and stand up for what she thinks is right. As her husband Benny (Lalu Alex) says, there is a Molly in all our families, in some form of the other who makes everyone around her insecure. There is no point in being upset about it and one has to adjust to the way she is.

As she struggles with many of her small-time problems in life, it acts as a mirror to many of the issues that we face in day-to-day life. How many of us have not struggled in government offices waiting for hours, without any help at all. Even the slightest of help comes with a suggestion of short-cuts that we are forced to accept because there is no way out of the mess. Reminds me of my trip to the IT dept office last year where we spent more than a couple of hours just waiting for the man who sent us the notices to turn up but no one ever bothered to ask what we wanted when we landed in a placid Govt office.

Molly’s struggles are not always driven out of her conviction but also due to the simple necessity of doing things independently when alone. She is married to a large family headed by her matriarch mother-in-law KPAC Lalitha but finds no support when in trouble, except from her mother-in-law and a benign neighbour. It doesn’t help that she has brought no dowry after her marriage and is an independent lady who has come down all the way from the US of A to a place where her outgoing nature is a source of genuine bewilderment. Like Molly, haven’t many of us Non-Residential Keralites seen our relatives think that we have minted money outside and that we are stingy for not spending money – the effort and toil just does not show!

As a single woman who tries to live independently in a small town in Kerala, she struggles with house owners, head-load workers, nosey people, co-employees who are happy to keep away from work at the slightest of pretexts and of course, the ever roving eye of men who are keen to ‘help’ her whenever there is an opportunity. It isn’t a world that Molly is unaware of having brought up there; she, however, does not go about bad mouthing the place and unlike many others, she is not willing to simple live with her problems.

The women around her are more or less satisfied with the kind of lives that they live, living in a frog-in-the-wall kind of existence and being happy about it. Her neighbour Usha (Lakshmi Priya) lives a contended life of a teacher and is more obsessed with the progress of her TV serials than the world around her; she leaves it to her husband, Ravi (Krishna Kumar) the dentist, to handle things outside her house. Molly’s mother-in-law may be her only support in the family when in Kerala but there is a generation gap that cannot be bridged. Yes, they get along well and enjoy a rare sense of camaraderie but it happens with a sense of acceptance that exists between their worlds – a world where cooking and taking care of the house is a woman’s job and a world where women can stand up on their own and take the battle to men.

There is a subtle social commentary on the world around her in the form of bandhs, busy government offices and names that tell us a lot of the times we live in. New Generation lower caste names like Fleming Raj (with mother as Mulla Devi) indicating a western influence to a starry-eyed auto rickshaw driver with cine ambitions going by the name Gunesh Kuttan and an auditor called Paraman who is busier with making arrangements for the local festival than providing tax advice.

It is a mark of the changing times where the young priest Father Joby Matthews (Sharath) is a divorcee and is called in to settle a tax dispute between his parishioners! When Molly suffers a small fall on the road, the onlookers are more keen to capture the scene with their mobiles than actually give her a helping hand. The bank manager is impressed by her abilities at work and is more than willing to be persuaded that the American system is wonderful; in an absolutely hilarious moment when she is down with an accident, he even wishes her ‘Happy Rest in Peace’!

It is courageous of Ranjith to cast a young Prithviraj with a much-older Revathy as the central protagonists of this drama. Yes, it is evident that the plot demands such a casting but how many directors would be willing to take such a (perceived) risk? Also, kudos to Prithviraj for taking up this role which sees him play second fiddle to the central woman character. Mammukkoya excels in an unexpected cameo as Salim Mechery, Molly’s lawyer, who also dabbles in cartoons and plays (suspect that had Jagathy been around, he would have been a natural choice to play the character). It is Revathy’s movie throughout and I don’t think that for a minute that you’d think that she could be any different from the character that she plays – we need such strong female protagonists…

Prithvi as Pranav Roy is the haughty Assistant Tax Commissioner who goes strictly by the rule book and cares two hoots for the discomfort faced by the tax payer. He is honest and not driven by personal interests but knows that he has the power to make people bend and is willing to use his powers even if the situation does not demand it. It is a commentary of the sad state of affairs that bright officers are competent and intelligent but totally devoid of any sense of customer service. In a conversation with Salim Mechery, Pranav remarks that the money that should reach the poor is being siphoned away by NRIs like Molly only to be brought down to earth by Salim who reminds him that this money does not reach the poor but only the coffers of politicians.

But with all due regards to the director, I have misgivings over the way the movie peters out in a direction of morality that I find it difficult to digest. Call me a cynic but I have a problem with a moral angle being thrust in suddenly for no better reason than giving a sermon to us poor plebeians – something similar that I felt in the Ustad Hotel ending too.  Yes, we know that Molly cannot be dishonest and to expect a twist in the plot may go against her character and even Ranjith’s convictions as a director. But I’m sure there are better ways of taking an honourable exit, without cleaving in the morality clause.

Adv Salim finds glaring gaps in Pranav’s father’s tax returns and this could in itself have been used as a bargaining tool simply to drive home the point that even the best of men can be taken to task if somebody tries to really screw their lives (somebody like Subramanian Swamy!). Molly’s defence of the expenses hidden from the Govt also do not cut any ice – when Pranav asks ludicrously as to why this could not have been shown in her tax statement, my mind was simply echoing his sentiments. What one presents in one’s tax returns is not in the public domain so her talk about shying away from publicity seemed far-fetched. And while she means well when she says that the taxes paid by her do not reflect into action by the Govt, it still does not explain her actions.

If you keep aside the contrived morality that seeps in during the end and a couple of scenes that appear out of place (like Salim’s entry into Molly’s house and the cringe-worthy spectacle of a tennis match), it is a warm movie that definitely gladdens your heart and reiterates Ranjith Sankar’s role as a director who thinks as the common man. His template of film making draws on the ability of ordinary citizens who rise to the situation when confounded with larger problems in life- what they do is not heroic but simple things that matter..

Note- Also check out this review of Molly Aunty Rocks.