Director Sanju Surendran remembers the day he shot for his debut Aeden at Kuttikanam. "When we started shooting, the weather was fine. But, suddenly it began to shower and soon it turned misty. This was what I wanted for that sequence. Though unexpected, I see this as a blessing from nature," he says.
Indeed a blessing it was, for, Sanju's movie Aeden has earned him many accolades, including the Rajatha Chakoram for Best Debut Director and FIPRESCI Award for the Best Malayalam Film at the 22nd International Film Festival of Kerala, held in Thiruvananthapuram last week.
For him, this means quite a lot. "There is a long relationship between IFFK and me. It was a nostalgic moment for me," he says, remembering the signature film he made for IFFK in 2009.
Sanju got the thread for Aeden from the three short stories of S Hareesh - 'Niryatharayi', 'Chappathile Kolapathakam' and 'Manthrikavaalu'. While I was working at K R Narayanan National Institute of Visual Science and Arts, Kottayam, my friend Rekha introduced me to the story Niriyatharayi.
Hareesh brings surrealist elements to the story that are inspired by real-life incidents; a life stranger than fiction,” he says.
Aeden narrates the tale of Hari, an aspiring young writer, who visits Peter sir, an old retired school teacher. The two lonely men take pleasure in a curious game over drinks and exotic dishes. They cut out obituary notice from a local newspaper, put them in a bowl and randomly picks them out, one at a time. The person who picks the older victims become the winner and pockets a small sum. Among them, they pick Shaji and Kuriakose, with different tales. One is a murder and the other is of love. In Aeden, emotions like lust, passion, jealousy and rage form a canvas, on which he spins the tale.
“Aeden is a collective effort, the pre-production took about six months,” he said. According to Sanju Surendran, there are around 50 characters and almost 20 animals in the film. Sanju himself scripted the movie and Hareesh helped him with the dialogues."We visited Neendur, in which the story is set, and interacted with the people there. I felt all the three stories are connected with each other," he says.
Now that the glory has sunk in, Sanju is busy with his next project, a film based on C Ayappan's ‘Kaval Bhootam’. C Ayyappan was one of the leading Dalit writers in Malayalam, who wrote 'Njandukal' and compilation of his stories was published under the title 'C. Ayyappante Kathakal' in 2008.
Sanju Surendran is a graduate in film direction from Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune.
He has also received IDPA Gold Medal for the best documentary in 2017 and won special mention at Visions Du Reel at Switzerland for his short film Kapila.