Set in Kanhangad, Malayalam comedy-drama ‘Thinkalazhcha Nishchayam’ directed by Senna Hegde is creating a buzz thanks to its storyline and casting
A young girl elopes. Its ripple effect on her family and neighbourhood is the backdrop of Malayalam film Thinkalazhcha Nishchayam. Directed by advertisement professional-turned-fimmaker Senna Hegde, the small film streaming on SonyLIV is catching eyeballs for its storyline and treatment.
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Shot in Kanhangad, a small town in Kasargod district in Kerala, the film, with a cast sans big names, takes on patriarchy and middle-class hypocrisy without melodrama or preachy dialogues.
“The theme of the film is true of any small town in India. It was an incident in my neighbourhood that triggered the one-line of the story of a girl eloping with her sweetheart and its aftermath,” says Senna, pleased with the buzz it is garnering.
The subtle humour, stinging one-liners, with the best ones reserved for the women, and realistic, organic narrative make the film stand out. Seamlessly bringing in the dynamics in the family and their relatives, small details and nuances enhance the story-telling. Every character blends in with the locale while the local dialect roots the film firmly in Kanhangad. “I was determined that the actors be fluent in the dialect of the region. As I shoot in sync sound, the lines had to flawlessly delivered without any artificiality. We held auditions for every character,” says Senna.
It was an effort that seems to have paid rich dividends. Senna explains that some of the actors may have been first timers before the camera but they were experienced theatre actors. He told the ensemble cast that the movie did not have a hero or a heroine but that each character had a well-defined space in the narrative.
“Manoj KU who plays Kuwait Vijayan, the patriarchal father, Ajisha Prabhakaran (Lalitha), who dons the role of Vijayan’s wife, Unnimaya Nalppadam, Anagha Narayanan, who play the daughters with a will, have a background in theatre,” explains Senna.
Vijayan wants to make his youngest daughter Suja’s wedding a grand event to make up for his eldest daughter marrying against his wish. Against the backdrop of Suja’s engagement, Senna places a social satire that gently makes fun of social mores and a misplaced sense of family honour.
Beyond the screen
Senna says that though some of the newcomers to movies needed a bit of support and help initially, once they got into the skin of the characters, the film’s shooting progressed smoothly in late December 2019 and early 2020.
The clincher in the film is the climax, according to many viewers, as Senna wraps up the subject even before audiences get time to take it in the twist.
Although the story idea was Senna’s, he roped in his friend Sreeraj Raveendran as co-writer. Sreeraj is also the cinematographer of the film that is almost completely shot in and around the house of Kuwait Vijayan. The claustrophobic, run-down interiors of the house, well framed by Sreeaj, seem to be hinting at the narrow minded Vijayan’s outlook although his wife emphathises with their daughters.
“The camera eavesdrops on the residents and is a fly on the wall in many of the scenes. Sreeraj made the camera a character in the film and one feels that the events are actually happening around you,” says Senna.
The Malayalam film first got noticed when it was picked up for the Malayalam Cinema Today Category of the International Film Festival of Kerala 2020. The film made headlines when it was won two awards of the Kerala State Film Awards for the second best film and the best story.
After its release on SonyLIV, it has become a favourite among netizens.
Senna says with a laugh that when it rains, it pours and right now, accolades are pouring on the cast and crew of the film. The three-film director, who debuted in films with the 2016 Malayalam film 0-41*, followed it up with 2018’s Katheyondu Shuruvaagide, a hit in Kannada. He asserts that his next film will also be made in Kanhangad and will tell a local tale with a global connect.