Award-winning scenarist Syam Pushkaran confesses that he begins writing only after he sees, and approves of the locations. This is because he visualises the story first. “That’s what I did for Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum where the story takes place at a police station in Kasargod. There is a huge tree near it and a ground nearby. Such details are significant during scripting. They hold immense importance in making the movie feel real,” says the writer, who is hailed for bringing back the wave of realism to Malayalam cinema.
But Syam makes no such claims. “Director Dileesh Pothan or I never claimed that our work was ‘realistic’. I think that honour was bestowed on us by the audience themselves,” he says. Though Malayalam cinema sat up and took notice of his work in 2011 when his debut movie Salt and Pepper became a huge hit, it was Maheshinte Prathikaaram (2016) that truly made him the contemporary flag-bearer of realistic Malayalam cinema. “While working on the film, all Dileesh and I tried to do was avoid clichés. Maheshinte Prathikaram is set in a small town in Idukki and the first thing we avoided was clichés like a tea stall and a barber shop. And then, of course, we focused on the detailing. This way, people could place the life easily,” says Syam.
This was no different in Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum (2017) too in which he was the creative director. “It was Sajeev Pazhoor’s story. I loved the thread as it was set in a different plane. It had a certain warmth to it. The life shown here is raw and rustic. It is about harsh realities,” says Syam. But he agrees that his writing is reflected on screen differently with other directors with whom he has worked. “Aashiq Abu’s working style is different. His movies are progressive.
Every movie demands a different style of work and this is a give-and-take process. The script is just a blue print. It is the director’s vision that appears on screen. But then, as a writer, I am comfortable with every subject—be it fantasy, thriller or romance,” he says. Salt and Pepper was directed by Aashiq Abu with whom he has been associated in most projects.
And among the actors, it is for Fahadh Faasil that Syam has written the most, and all of the films have
been milestones in the actor’s filmography. Syam says it is because Fahadh is an actor who pushes the scenarist to flesh out the character so well. “He would go on and on about the character, his situations and psyche.
The process makes it easier to get under the skin of the character,” he says. Syam is writing an urban love story now. So, how is he going to avoid clichés in something as routine? “It is a challenge. But then, I believe I can make a difference,” says the writer, who is also all set to give direction a shot. And then, I ask him the million-dollar question. When is the next Dileesh Pothan-Syam Pushkaran movie going to hit the screens? “We might do one by the end of 2018,” he says.