Interview Malayalam

Roshni Dinaker: We have limited time and resources in regional languages

The costume designer-turned-filmmaker spoke to us about her first feature film in Malayalam, My Story, which stars Prithviraj Sukumaran and Parvathy.

Sonal Pandya

Roshni Dinaker entered the film industry by chance. The filmmaker has been a costume designer since 2002 in south Indian films. She happened to be at the right place at the right time when she was hired as a costume designer.

“There was a project that was going on in my hometown in Coorg and there were some situational problems that they were facing. They were looking for somebody that could be replaced right away. And I, by chance, was at one of our friend’s place and I happened to just go there as a visitor. I ended up doing costumes for them and then there was no looking back,” Roshni explained.

Roshni won acclaim in her career as a costume designer, winning the Karnataka State Award for the Kannada film Kallarali Hoovagi in 2006. She was inspired to get into writing and direction by the story narrated to her by a late friend, and Roshni hoped to bring it to the big screen one day.

“I went to narrate the same story, my friend’s story to Prithviraj [Sukumaran], and he actually liked the script and [said], 'okay let’s do the film'. But as we progressed, it was the common opinion of a couple of people [that] we have to do a little more commercial movie. That’s when we started discussing. This one line came up in our discussions between me and Shankar [Ramakrishnan] who’s the writer. We all sat together and that night we came up with the one line. Then we started developing it. It took us one-and-a-half years to complete the story and script.”

My Story (2018), which is being released today (15 June), is produced by Roshni and her husband, Dinaker OV.

For the female lead, they cast actress Parvathy because as Roshni says, “She is one of the finest actors, somebody who could do justice to my character Tara.” The film’s trailer was released in March by actor Mammootty and features many breathtaking shots of Portugal — the film was shot in several locations there. The Digital Intermediate (DI) for the film has been done at Red Chillies Color.

Even though there were challenging moments during the shoot of her first film, Roshni said the whole experience was a teachable moment. But the good outweighed the bad challenges any day.

“It was very cold and we were shooting in winter. We have limited time and limited resources in regional languages. That’s the reason why I thought about making a film in my mother tongue, Malayalam. [One was to] respect to my mother tongue and second is this is the place where I could learn with limited resources and limited time if I’m able to give a good film. And Malayalam films are known for its content.”

Roshni said she has looked towards filmmakers like Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Rajkumar Hirani who have inspired her [with] different kinds of storytelling.

“One thing I realized is the emotion that you really wanted to do, I think we succeeded. Whether it is humour, those people laugh at it, okay we’ve succeeded. Or if it’s a sad story, it depends on the emotions you want people to emote. I somehow feel great filmmakers have actually achieved that,” she said.

The film had a bit of a hiccup during the release of its first song when online commentators targeted actress Parvathy for speaking about a Mammootty film Kasaba (2016). The incident disturbed Roshni who would have liked the focus of My Story to remain on the positive aspects of the film instead of the negative.

“Dudley sir, the cameraman of our film, it’s the first time he’s doing a film in the south and you had Bosco-Caesar who had choreographed the song in one of the more unexplored locations in Peniche, Portugal. So there were a lot of bright sides to it, but everybody wanted to talk about the negative side which shifted from all the hard work to some statement that [Parvathy] had made. Which was very saddening.”

The film’s promotions have been unique to say the least. The makers ran a contest called My Story where they wanted to hear the audiences’ stories. They encouraged people to send in their stories and the top three winners would get theirs made into a short film.

Additionally, they also came out with a mobile game created by Tplusplus Interactive that ties up with the movie.

“The game is basically a story about a guy who falls in a love with a woman and he has never met her. It’s his search for who the girl is and where she’s from. The game is not completely about the film but there are aspects of the game which are closer to the film,” Roshni stated.

While Roshni is excited and nervous about My Story’s release, she already has plans for her next, a trilingual in English, Malayalam and Tamil called Metamorphoses.

“It is actually about three women going through similar situations but reacting in three different ways. It’s actually a very interesting film and I’m dying todo  that story. It’s more like my life through my perspective. It’s about people who I’ve met in my life, people who I’ve seen. In society, people will fall into these categories,” she concluded.