There was a time when an announcement of a new Shaji Kailas project was welcomed warmly and every box office hit of his celebrated grandly. Ask any '90s kid which Malayalam movies they have watched the most number of times while growing up and you might find at least one Shaji Kailas movie in that list (Thalasthanam or Commissioner or The King will be the most likely pick).
It's been a while since we've heard from the ace director, who took a brief break from directing in Malayalam. He's back once again, but this time as producer. His new production, titled Thakkol, is his first since more than a decade. In a leisurely chat with Express, Shaji spoke about the film, his son's acting debut, and what he is directing next.
The decision to do Thakkol came to him while in the middle of discussing his next script (planned with Mohanlal) and they encountered a roadblock. "We had to rework the script's second half and this process got delayed a bit. And as Mohanlal got busy with other projects, this idea was put on hold. That's when Kiron Prabhakaran approached me with Thakkol and asked if I would be interested in directing it. As I felt I was not the right person to do such a complex subject, I said I'll produce it instead, and left the direction to Kiron."
Shaji is producing the film with two others, K R Prasad and Mathew Joseph Thekkel. He describes the film as a small-scale mystery drama which also carries considerable commercial appeal. Shaji. says, "Indrajith plays a man who didn't want to be a priest but is forced to be one. He is someone who lost his dad at a young age and is taken by the orphanage. He grows up to be a priest and comes into the possession of a mysterious key."
Aside from Indrajith, Murali Gopy and Nedumudi Venu also appear in prominent roles. Indrajith's younger version is played by Shaji's youngest son, Rushin. "I didn't know he was interested in acting. He used to take part in school dramas and we would be there, applauding. He is not afraid of the camera. Kids these days are more confident than us (laughs). They make their own decisions."
The director, who prefers doing fast-paced scripts, promises to be back with another mass entertainer. "I'm planning to do it with Mohanlal only. The script is currently being written by Renji Panicker. We hope to start as soon as Mohanlal becomes free from other commitments."
When asked if those kind of old-fashioned, bombastic action movies still have a market, Shaji says, "I think there is an audience for that kind of cinema even today. I've learnt from my mistakes. I should have slowed down back then and not done the same thing repeatedly. When you do that, people get bored (laughs)."