From his high school days, Sanal Kumar Sasidharan was certain that he would make it to the tinsel world. However, his stride to the goal was no easy task. And, finally the limelight is on him, quarter century after he started dreaming.
The 38-year-old film maker is content while speaking to Express a day after the state bestowed the award for the best film director on him. “The obstacles don’t worry me. In fact, it keeps me happy,” he says giving a big laugh.
His love for frames began from his father, an avid movie buff, took him to movies at the thatched talkies at his native Perumakadavila near Neyyatinkara.
“It had a touch of magical realism. During the matinee, the sun rays would enter the hall and rain drops would fall while the show was on. Our area had a plenty of artists whose glory was limited to the borders of the village. Even my father used to be a good performer of ‘villadichampatt’,” he said.
But his father, a government employee, was in no mood to accept his request to join a course to learn documentary. Hence, he opted LLB after graduating in Zoology from VTM NSS College, Dhanuvachapuram.
“I knew that Mammootty was a lawyer. So some how the thought came to me that the course would get me into films. Family also accepted it as it would bring a better career than movies,” he says.
Thus he shifted to the capital city for ‘higher studies’ and during the period, he had a chance to interact with a number of film makers such as Adoor Gopala krishanan, Sreenivasan, Sathyan Anthikkad, Balachandra Menon and Jayaraj at a camp organised for the college students.
He got a chance to be an art assistant to artist Samkutty Pattomkary for the movie Mankolangal in 2000. He, then, tried a hand at film making and thus was born Athisayalokam, a short film, under Kazcha Chalachitra Vedi, which had the support of veterans Sunny Joseph in camera and Beena Paul Venugopal in editing. Though the budget was only Rs 30,000, he could not complete it following financial constraints.
Meanwhile, he got married to Sreeja, his junior at Thiruvananthapuram Law College, and life entered another phase. “I was at a crossroads. I don’t know how we crossed those days,” he recalls.
But, when things got worse, he had to opt for a job in Saudi Arabia where he worked with a private company. “If I had continued there, I would have had a good bank balance. Everyone thought I served the affair with films. But when I put Athisayalokam on my blog, I received a lot of calls which beckoned me back. Thus was born Parole, a short film,” says Sanal.
Then, he did not return to gulf and joined as an assistant to Viji Thampy and worked with him for two films. For Sanal, the State Awards and good words he received for his short film Frog was a huge boost.
“I went to many artists with my scripts and most of them suggested me to compromise for their convenience. The scripts were not my-kind-of films but written with audience in mind. I did that to gain an entry. Then I realized that if I want to do my film, I have to go on my own. It was then that I made Oralpokkam, with the support of my friends,” he says.
The crowd funded movie made at a budget of Rs 25 lakhs was screened at 100 centres across the globe.
“I cannot make films to the norms of the industry. However, I would be happy if anybody from the industry is ready to associate with me. For me, film making is a natural activity and not an office job with a fixed timetable,” he states.
He is not sorry for the different roles he does for movies, from finding fund to screening to the making. “I enjoy multi tasking. It is no bane and only adds to my creativity,” says the director who is giving final touches to his second film Ozhivu Divasathe Kali, in a budget one-third of his first movie.