Interview Malayalam

Could experiment with a small budget film: Praveen Sukumaran on Sayahnangalil Chila Manushyar


On the sidelines of the ongoing Kolkata International Film Festival, the filmmaker speaks about his film's unusual theme and treatment.

Roushni Sarkar

Sayahnangalil Chila Manushyar (Certain Lives In Twilight) is the second feature film by Malayalam filmmaker Praveen Sukumaran. His first film Chewing Gum (2013) was not a grand success, yet, after five years, he did not mind making an entirely philosophical film, which is not at all meant for the masses. Certain Lives In Twlight is a small-budget film produced by Praveen's wife Sreekala Prakashan.

When asked if he did not think of the success while making this off-beat film, Praveen said, “Of course, I did. But it is a different kind of success. Also, it is a low-budget film and I could experiment with the subject.”

Praveen dropped out after completing first year of the master’s degree at the School of Drama in Thrissur and joined the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune. There he did a course on screenplay writing. After two years, he joined the Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute and completed a three-year course on filmmaking. He has worked as an assistant professor of media studies at St Thomas College of Thrissur and also taught in the direction department at FTII.

He said he took six months to write the script of Sayahnangalil Chila Manushyar and shot the film in 20 days in Idduki, Kerala. They stayed there for a while to explore the place before commencing the shoot. “To deliver a tranquil experience that goes well with the subject of the film we needed that kind of a place. We shot in different times of the day and often used the natural life to bring out the different dimensions,” he said. The post-production of the film also took six months.

“The film is about an old man and his last days of life. It is also about his memories about the past. He hears voices and sees certain characters from his past appear in his present life. We are not sure whether they really make physical appearances and he is quite tormented about every thing,” the filmmaker informed as he spoke about the protagonist of the film.

“Basically the film is about what death means and it also raises fundamental questions about life as well. It has also got many underlying layers. He is called Foucault by his student, friend and biographer in the film,” he added. Praveen drew parallels from the life of the French philosopher, historian and theorist Michel Foucault, who suffered from AIDS and stayed with one of his friends who recorded his last days.

“The film also talks about alternative sexuality while the protagonist tries to make sense of what is actually happening in his life,” added the director.

Praveen did a workshop for 10 days with the cast but did not really face much difficulty while conveying his ideas to lead actors Shurjith Gopinath and Jijoy P R, who have a strong background in theatre.

Sayahnangalil Chila Manushyar will soon be screened at the 2nd Kazhcha-NIV Indie Film Festival in Kerala and the director has also submitted the film at the International Film Festival of Rotterdam 2018.

The filmmaker is quite clear that the film is not meant for the masses and has no plans to get it released theatrically. However, he will soon try his hands at a mainstream film.

Sayahnangalil Chila Manushyar (Certain Lives In Twilight) was screened at the Kolkata International Film Festival on 13 November 2018.

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Kolkata International Film Festival