From being a Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award-winning author to an assistant director to an associate and now finally a filmmaker - the word ‘multitalented’ rests admirably on Sreebala K Menon’s shoulder. Her debut M-Town outing Love 24x7 will be a feast of romance, light-hearted humour and drama imparting a socio-cultural message, this Ramzan.
Revolving around a media house and its intricacies, Love 24x7 narrates the life of Roopesh Nambiar, a popular news presenter.
Ask Sreebala why a media-oriented story, she says, “In Malayalam we have seen stories revolving around the life of reporters, the risks they take and the drama happening, both in the print and visual media. But what happens behind the camera, the normal life of news presenters, who in themselves are celebrities these days, are not explored much. Love 24x7 delves into those things.”
Sreebala, who had also penned the script, started it as the plot for a short story, but later weaved into Love 24x7. Dileep portrays the role of Roopesh Nambiar in the movie while newbie Nikhila Vimal essays the role of Kabani, a young trainee journalist and the love interest of Roopesh.
“Like news presenters Arnab Goswami and Prannoy Roy in national television, Roopesh is a famous news anchor and programme presenter of the news channel ‘Nalamidam’, which, incidentally, stands for ‘fourth estate’.” Sreenivasan dons the role of Umar Abdullah, the head of the news channel. Suhasini also has meaty role in the movie. She plays Dr Sarayu. “Initially Suhasini was hesitant as she was held up with her other commitments, but once she heard the script, she readily agreed to do the role of Dr Sarayu. Her character has much prominence in the movie,” says Sreebala who is noted for her short films like Panthibhojanam and documentary film on Accamma Cherian.
Ask her whether Love 24x7 will be a serious movie, she says, “It is the filmmaker’s craft on how to present a subject. A serious subject can be taken seriously and at the same time lightly but with an intense approach. And, for me intense cinema works well,” she says who had won the 2005 Akademi award for 19, Canal Road in the best humour category.
The story happening in Thiruvananthapuram, also has Lena donning the role of a bold media person. Veteran journalist Sasikumar, Shankar Ramakrishnan, Sidhartha Siva, Manju Pillai and Thesni Khan also come in pivotal roles.
Sreebala is a longtime assistant and later associate to Sathyan Anthikkad. Quiz her whether being a woman made her cinema aspirations this long to cherish, she says, “Yea, it was a long journey but I always have been a late bloomer. Even writing came to me at 21 and filmmaking came later when I was 25. Though I was intrigued with the craft from young age, I was more keen to learn from the basics. And script writing and other technicalities of filmmaking appealed to me the most. Seven to eight years I dedicated myself to learn script writing alone.” Sreebala who considers Anthikkad as an excellent teacher, began associating with him for the film Narendran Makan Jayakanthan and later continued for Innathe Chinthavishayam, Vinodayathra, Bhagyadevatha till Oru Indian Pranayakatha.
On recent piracy issues, she says, “It is cyber era so are the rise of cyber crimes which are mostly untraceable. One solution is to have concrete legal rules for releasing a film online like abroad we have Netflix. Like satellite rites, we should have internet rites with a time frame that won’t harm the business of both theatres and entertainment channels.”