Director Arun Bose
Director Arun Bose

Chiselling the Rainbow’s Castle

Director Arun Bose on his filmmaking ideologies, penchant for mature relationship dramas, and his next, 'Marivillin Gopurangal'

After multiple delays in release, director Arun Bose’s new film 'Marivillin Gopurangal' is gearing up to hit screens this Friday (May 10). The film has a dynamic cast lead by Indrajith Sukumaran, Shruti Ramachandran, Vincy Aloshious and Sarjano Khalid. As Arun puts it, the story is primarily about two brothers, their partners and the interesting scenarios that occur when they four come together.

“There’s another key element in it, but I don’t want to reveal it now”, laughs the filmmaker. While his debut film 'Luca' was an emotion-heavy romantic tragedy, Arun says, he intended to do a widely appealing entertainer this time around. “These days, we see films catering to just one section of the audience. But as someone who grew up watching the 80s and 90s Malayalam films, I wanted to do an entertainer that resonates with all age groups. For that, I have taken a common topic that’s prevalent among today’s couples. When I shared the idea in my close circles, I could see most people relating to it, boosting my confidence.”

A huge fan of films like 'The Before Trilogy', 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' and ‘96', Arun says he is always fascinated by mature man-woman relationships. According to him, it is “one of the world’s most complex equations” and perhaps the “biggest mystery of mankind ever.” He elaborates, “I often think about how two people with so many differences and opposing views still manage to live under one roof.

There’s so much to ponder over it and naturally, it has become an unending theme of experimentation in various art forms. From literature to cinema, these stories have been told countless times, but still, there’s always something new to explore. It’s not just about a man and a woman, I’m also interested in stories of unusual relationships that exist between people of the same gender. Like say, a 'Neelakasham Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi' or 'The Bucket List'. These may not be politically charged-films, but they are humane tales that are still tricky to narrate.”

Naturally, all the films that Arun has made so far find himself exploring this pet theme. For instance, in his directorial debut, the focus was on two contrasting couples, Luca-Niharika and Akbar-Fathima. While the first couple is more volatile and passionate, the other two are swamped in a cold relationship. There are similar contrasts between the characters in 'Marivillin Gopurangal' as well, adds Arun.

“All the four characters have a distinct nature. Just like Luca and Niharika, Vincy’s Meenakshi and Sarjano’s Rony are in an unusual relationship, whereas the other two are in a more traditional setup. Essentially, they are all representatives of the new-age urban couples,” says the director, whose concept was later developed into a full-fledged screenplay by Pramod Mohan.

For a relationship drama like this that relies a lot on its actors, it’s always tricky finalising the right cast. Admitting that not all of them were intuitive choices, Arun adds, “I had a lot of options in mind, but I believe the cast that eventually came together was perfect. For instance, Vincy was not among my initial choices because she wasn’t normally associated with urban roles. But I somehow believed she would be able to bring a lot of freshness and energy. Her character Meenakshi is the catalyst of the group and when I narrated the script, I could see the same glow on her face. I’m sure it will be a complete image breaker for her. Similarly, this will also be one of Indrettan’s recent career best. He is a star in humour roles and it was a joy rediscovering that.”

Beyond penning well-rounded characters, Arun also stresses on the importance of getting the treatment right. “I firmly believe that a script is just the seed and it’s the director’s job to make it a tree. As a filmmaker, I derive my artistic pleasure from experimenting with treatments. In 'Luca', I wanted the Luca-Niharika segment to be like a van Gogh painting. The couple had a lot of energy and enthusiasm, so we set their portions in summer. If you notice, it first rains when they part ways. From then, it’s the rainy season and that’s when the Akbar-Fathima portions begin. That backdrop perfectly complemented their relationship, which had all the boredom and numbness that comes with rain.”

Sharing that he has attempted incorporating more such ideas in 'Marivillin Gopurangal', Arun says, “I wanted this film to be like a rainbow, which signifies hope and happiness. Moreover, the characters in the film have different colours and layers, just like a rainbow.” With Kokers Films agreeing to produce, Arun didn’t have to look too far for an apt title. He instantly zeroed in on 'Marivillin Gopurangal' (Rainbow’s Castle), the opening lines of the iconic song from 'Summer in Bethlehem', also produced by Kokers Films.

Making it even more special was the addition of Vidyasagar, also the composer of 'Summer in Bethlehem'. “Usually for urban films, there’s a template treatment that music directors follow with heavy use of acoustic guitars. But I wanted something different. I’ve noticed how Telugu composers like Keeravani employ Carnatic music and traditional pieces even in urban dramas. Vidyaji has also done similar experiments in this film. It’s always such new treatments and combinations that contribute to a film’s freshness.”

Besides 'Marivillin Gopurangal', Arun also has two other completed films awaiting release. One is Alaiyin Thisai, a Tamil language film that he made before 'Luca'. “We shot it with the sole intention of putting together a feature length film. Nithin George (who played the role of Akbar in 'Luca') and I travelled on a scooter from Chennai to Rameswaram to shoot that film. It was shot on a Canon 60D camera without any lights or other support. Now, when I look back at it, I notice a lot of issues, but I still want to release it. I held it back for so long because I didn’t want people to be all judgemental and assume that I did an amateur film after 'Luca'.”

Interestingly, Arun, despite working having all the resources today, is still longing to do films like Alaiyin Thisai with a minimal set up. “I was a self shooting documentary filmmaker for years, so that desire will always be with me. I’m in awe of how Assamese filmmaker Rima Das shoots her films. It’s as personal as writing a diary. That, for me, is the most gratifying shooting experience ever. “ Arun also recalls how he went back to his guerilla filmmaking days to shoot the song Vaanil Chandrika from 'Luca'. “We wanted to recreate something like Vaishaka Sandhye, where a very ordinary couple is in love and spend time together in a bustling city like Kochi. I thoroughly enjoyed shooting that song. You can see such realistic depictions in films like 'Annayum Rasoolum' as well.”

Also coming up for Arun is 'Mindiyum Paranjum', a film he shot during the second lockdown. The Unni Mukundan, Aparna Balamurali-starrer once again belongs to the director’s favourite space—relationship dramas. “It is an adaptation of a popular short story with only two characters in it. The narrative is built completely around their conversations and hence the title 'Mindiyum Paranjum' (Chitter-chatter).” Calling it another “rich shooting experience,” Arun shares, “We had Madhu Ambat sir as its DOP and we shot only what was required, like how it was during the pre-digital era. It helped us complete the whole film in just 20 days. The producers are still in talks regarding its release and I hope it comes out soon.”

Besides being a filmmaker, Arun also dons a professor’s hat at the LV Prasad Film and TV Academy where he trains students in direction and screenwriting. Apart from sharing his knowledge, the director also sees it as a “wonderful opportunity” to stay updated in his craft. “It’s something I enjoy doing, because I get to read a lot and watch many new films. With every new batch, I’m also embarking on new experiments as we bounce ideas and do short films together. Along with them, I’m also learning new things everyday.”

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