How much has the break disrupted the shoot of Hridayam?
What we first heard here in Chennai was that there was a plan to shut everything down for 10 days, and resume by April first week. But by April, there was speculation that the lockdown could be extended and there came a point when we realised that this wouldn’t end soon. That’s when we started worrying. We had planned a lot of outdoor shoots in Chennai and those locations might not be available now. We also have a few crowd sequences in Kerala and we can’t even think about doing that in the near future. Now, even if we shoot under restrictions, we are risking people’s lives. So, we have understood that it will take time and there’s nothing we can do about that; all of us have agreed to wait till it’s safe. I am now enjoying my time with my family and looking at the brighter side.
How was it working with Pranav?
We have completed about 50% of the film, mostly with Appu (Pranav) and Darshana Rajendran. He would reach the sets and be ready 15 minutes before the call time. I haven’t seen him reading the dialogues on the sets because he has learnt them by rote. Working with such actors helps finish the job faster. Darshana is a spontaneous artiste. There are many other young actors in the film, and we shot in a college for most of the schedule.
What is your take on the future of theatrical releases in the post-pandemic era?
It has always been best for the industry to do a movie with a small budget and make it a huge success. Malayalam cinema has always been respected for its content, and that should be our way forward too. In terms of budget, Hridayam is relatively bigger than my other films because we have a lot to shoot as it covers several years. Although it might take time for movies to hit theatres, when Kurup or Drishyam 2 releases when it’s safe, the scenario will change. Because there is nothing better than a theatre experience. S2 Theyagaraja theatre is near my house in Chennai and whenever I go out for grocery shopping and see it closed, I keep thinking when can I watch a film there again? I go to theatres when I am stressed or confused about things in life. It’s a place that gives a lot of people a sense of peace, an escape.
How have you been keeping yourself busy?
I have developed an interest in cooking. I make payasam, halwa, fried rice, neychor, gobi manchurian, and kanji and payar. I also make non-veg dishes and as nobody eats that at home, I send it to my friends through delivery services. The rest of the time, I play with my children; when you have kids at home, you don’t know how the time goes. The elder one was going to playschool and they were planning online classes, but how do you keep a child who is barely three focused? It just doesn’t work. Also, we have to think about screen-time addiction; what if they don’t go out and play after this whole pandemic is over?