Not long ago, it was practically impossible for movies sans a ‘crowd-puller’ poster face to find theatres. The life span of any movie without a ‘superstar’, ‘megastar’ or any bankable crew was bound to be short in theatres, that too if they managed to get a screening space.
But, the whole trend of multiplex came as a boon for short-time film makers who finally began to get a breathing space. People who decided to enjoy a cosy day out in a mall were willing to spend on such movies, provided they amounted to a one-time watch. So it came to be that good scripts, not stars, began to call the shots.
This encouraging trend coupled with the experimental streak of a few youngsters whose cinema experience, limited to just dreams, has helped spell success for ‘Ithihasa’, the fantasy flick that hit the screens last month.
A few years ago, a movie like ‘Ithihasa’ doing a good business - even a month after its release, playing in 40 of the 50 screens it was released, for packed audience - would be unthinkable. The movie made with a minimal budget of `2.5 crore has already surpassed the break-even point.
Binu S, the director, claims neither he nor the crew members, except for music director Deepak Dev and Anil Narayanan who penned the dialogue, had any experience in filmdom. “All we had was optimism. We were a bunch of photographers whose only association with cinema was as an audience. But, I had unbridled passion for movies and that’s how I decided to do a movie. I spent almost a year on another project, but couldn’t get a producer. Then my friends suggested I come up with a more cost-effective project so that we could pump in the money ourselves. That’s when I zeroed in on Ithihasa,” says Binu.
The director says he was inspired to make ‘Ithihasa’ after watching many English movies on similar lines. “I wanted something on the lines of ‘It’s a boy’, ‘Hot chick’ and ‘She’s the man’. I went to many industry people with the script, to many actors and actresses, but none seemed to express faith in the project. But, that never affected my conviction in ‘Ithihasa’,” says Binu.
Fortunately, Rajesh, another friend of Binu, came forward to produce the movie. It was decided that Sinoj P Ayyappan, another pal, would handle the camera. Jovin John would be the editor. Binu then decided to use his contacts as an ad film maker. Composer Deepak Dev, whom he had known before, agreed to do the music.
But, the major problem was the cast. Shine Tom Chacko was relatively unknown and it required a good actor to enact Albi, the protagonist. “But, Shine agreed to do it and I was convinced. Next was Anusree, people were against my decision to approach her because she was a comic actor and we needed someone who could handle action as well. But, I decided to stick to her,” says Binu.
Says Shine: “He was so self-confident. I jumped at Binu’s movie as I got to play a character that has so much to perform. Any actor would want such a role to exploit his talent,” says Shine.
The first two days of its release at Lulu PVR were not welcoming. Slowly, the movie began to pick up, thanks to word-of-mouth publicity. ‘Ithihasa’ that came with no pre-publicity or PR gimmicks made the right noises post-release. Reviewers gave it the thumbs-up and Binu earned the tag of a director whose next venture will be looked upon with anticipation.
Along with it came applause from the industry. Director Ranjith Sankar was all praise when he wrote “Never felt so happy watching a Malayalam movie in theatre recently. A perfect commercial entertainer. . Music, visuals, edit, stunts..all perfectly gelled into the narrative!”
Binu beams when he says actor Mammootty called him to congratulate him. He says the future seems to be bright. “I have got offers to remake ‘Ithihasa’ in Tamil, Telugu and Kannada. As of now, I haven’t committed anything,” he says.
The ‘Itihasa’ team will soon come together for another movie, a comedy thriller, that will start rolling in January.