The expatriate tales portrayed on celluloid or in books are often laden with bouts of nostalgia. The characters seem lost in thoughts of their homeland and a sense of loneliness lingers. Ace director Shyamaprasad’s latest outing English is but a different take on the lives of the Malayali diaspora settled in London. The director known for his subtle and sensitive depiction of the intricacies of relationships, says English is a continuum to his ‘likes and obsessions’ on the contours of human psyche.
Shyamaprasad lured the crowds last year with Arike, a movie on love, mistrust and bitterness of life. He says English, that will hit the theatres this Friday, is a film with a slight tinge of ‘black humour’. The director says, “Films against a foreign backdrop usually focus more on the glamour quotient of the place. I don’t wish to helm postcard movies sans life.”
Not the London of Yore
The film unravels the lives of four characters in an alien land. Jayasurya plays Shankaran, a Kathakali artist who is an illegal immigrant. Mukesh plays Joy, a middle-class corner store owner, who confronts some unexpected hardships in life. Nivin Pauly, is more of a representative of the present generation. He dons the role of Sibin, an IT executive, while Remya Nambeesan plays his friend. Nadia Moidu does the role of Sarasu, an affluent homemaker.
Shyamaprasad who was in the UK for his masters during the late ‘80s says, “The dark underbelly of London was haunting and cajoled me with ideas for a movie.” Observing the sea changes undergone in the European society over the past 10 years, and their varying concepts of ethnicity, the director says, “Europe has been tasting reverse colonisation for some time. From the self-confident and arrogant attitude, the natives display an insecure air. Today’s England doesn’t carry any of its earlier glory. As we walk through the streets of London, foreign languages like Hindi echo in our ears.”
And that exactly is why the director has steered away from the oft-discussed emotion, ‘nostalgia’, while narrating the story. He says, “Instead, the film concentrates more on the dynamics of the lives of the expatriates. Survival is the most important aspect of life. Kerala has not been shown in the movie at all.”
Emotions are universal
The expatriates too have their share of worries and anxieties, says the director. “Universal emotions are similar every where, with the essential nature of the man being same across the globe. Even in the so-called developed world, issues like isolation, love, desperation, and conflict over moral and ethical values arise. And I have tried to focus more on them,” he says.
Unlike many of his other films, that were inspired by literary works, English is based on Akkara Kazhchakal-fame Ajayan Venugopal’s script which revolves around the lives of Malayalis settled in the US. The director says, “I don’t consider myself a story teller, and therefore prefer to outsource stories. I liked the episodes of Akkara Kazchakal spiced by satires. The film too has elements of satire.”
Work is fun
Reminiscing on the days of shooting, he says, “It was fun, notwithstanding the tests of autumn season. Working with a small crew, that is one-third of what we have here is a bit tough, but I am used to that.”
The director is all verbose about the cast of his film. He says, “All of them have done a fine job. Jayasurya is someone who has been consistently doing a brilliant job these days. And he has etched out his character wonderfully. But Mukesh’s performance as the corner store owner is the one which is sure to win the viewers’ heart. It is really different from what we have seen of him.”
A major highlight is music, says the director. “The film’s music has a multi-cultural flavour. And a unique mixing of fusion adds to its charm. Rex Vijayan, the composer, takes you to the world of music that is unheard of.” There are five songs written by Shibu Chakraborthy and Engandiyoor Chandra-sekharan. Shankar Tucker, the US musician and clarinet player, has joined hands with Shyamaprasad for the movie. The film is produced by Binu Dev under the banner of Navarang Screens.