Friday, October 30, 2009

'Every Malayali should be proud of Kerala Cafe'

Director Shankar Ramakrishnan marks his debut with the film Island Express in Kerala Cafe, an anthology of ten stories with a common theme called Yathra (journey).

Prithviraj, Jayasurya, Rahman, Maniyanpillai Raju and Sukumari play the main leads in Island Express.

The director talks about his film and more in this exclusive interview to's Meghna George.

How do you feel making your debut as part of Kerala Cafe?

Actually this was not planned. I have been a part of Capitol theatre, Ranjith's outfit, for the last seven years. After Kaiyoppu and Thirakkadha, both of which were well appreciated, we were actually thinking about what to do next.

We wanted to do something different that will take this platform into the next level. So we had this idea and we discussed with some of our friends like Lal Jose, for instance.

At that time, it was supposed to be directed by a set of directors, including Ranjith. That night itself, he told me that he will produce the film and will be the main architect behind the whole concept. I came into the picture as a director. For me, this was both a responsibility and an honour.

Meanwhile I got busy as an associate director in Ranjith's Paleri Manikyam: Oru Pathira Kolapathakathinte Kadha, which was a big project and as a result, I was one among the last, to complete my film in Kerala Cafe.

What is Island Express about?

Island Express has been inspired by a true incident. It is about four different people from various strata of the society, who belong to various socio-political-economic and emotional backgrounds.

Though there is no convergence between them, yet inadvertently there is a strong connection.

There are four women and four men, played by Prithviraj and Thani (a hugely talented theatre artist), Jayasurya and Sukumari, Maniyanpillai Raju and Shelley (an award-winning television actor) and Rahman and Geethu Christie (a beauty pageant winner).

How is the story connected to Kerala Cafe, the tea stall at the railway station?

All I can reveal is that Jayasurya plays an army officer who is in transit and he comes to Kerala Cafe.

What was the experience of narrating a story within ten minutes?

Whether a film is short or a feature length one, it has to reach a specific target within a stipulated time frame. Of course, you can add your spice into it and that needs a heavy craft.

In Island Express I have done experiments with time and pace. While the story involving Prithviraj has an urban feel, the one involving Jayasurya has a familial frame. The story involving Maniyanpillai Raju was kind of whacky while that of Rahman has an imaginative tone. In the film, the four things will converge into real time and pace.

How excited are you about the movie?

I had gone to Abu Dhabi, where the film was screened. Almost sixty percent of the viewers were those related to films abroad and the rest were NRIs.

The response to the film was just overwhelming. This is the first time in India that a collective film with a common theme, has been made.

A great teamwork has gone into its making -- more than 2000 technicians have worked on it. Every Malayali should be proud of Kerala Cafe.


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