Teamwork makes the ‘Selfie’ click

Teamwork makes the ‘Selfie’ click

Director G. Prajith tells Deepa Gauri that the success of Oru Vadakkan Selfie is due to teamwork and friendship

By Deepa Gauri

Published: Thu 30 Apr 2015, 10:18 PM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 7:24 PM

UMESH, THE LEAD character of the super-hit film Oru Vadakkan Selfie, enacted by Nivin Pauly is portrayed as rather lazy, looking for quick wins and never too eager to slog it out the hard way, even as he dreams of becoming a successful filmmaker.

 Director G. Prajith, who debuts with the film, is almost an anti-thesis to Umesh. He has been in the industry for nearly 20 years, has assisted a number of leading and emerging directors and has stayed behind the scenes despite a few producers stepping forward with projects.

 But when it comes to being lazy and laid-back, Prajith says he can give Umesh a run for his money. “That is what everyone tells me now,” smiles Prajith. “They warn me not to take it easy now that I have directed my first film.”

 If you expected the director of this so-called ‘new generation’ movie to be one of those smart alecks, you could not have been more mistaken. Prajith is so grounded in his success that it is hard to believe this man’s first film has strode over films by established super-hit directors.

 While he agrees that he is happy with the film’s success, he isn’t overwhelmed by it. Or at least he doesn’t admit to it. To him, OVS is all about “friendship and outstanding team work.”

He rattles out names he is thankful for and it reads like the cast and crew list of the film itself. “Almost all of us knew each other pretty well for many years,” says Prajith. “I must have seen my editing table at Ranjan Abraham’s and so when I work with talented professionals like him, there is also a great amount of freedom and lack of ego. In fact, I owe it to Ranjan for making the film so sharp and fast-paced.”

 Similarly, he has reams of praise for cinematographer Jomon T. John, the film’s composer Shaan Rahman and actor Neeraj Madhav, who also went on to choreograph one of the most popular tracks of the film Enne Thallandammava.

 “I had planned the song differently but then I felt it might be close to the Kaikkottum Kandilla song. That is when Neeraj and Jomon stepped in,” says Prajith. Actor Nivin Pauly has said in an interview how it was shot rather quickly with both Aju Varghese and he improvising on the go.

 “Yes, that was indeed the spirit of the movie,” says Prajith. “There was so much camaraderie on the sets that it was easy for everyone to be themselves.”

 Of course, he thanks Vineeth Sreenivasan, the writer-actor-singer-director, who wrote Oru Vadakkan Selfie and also plays a key character in the movie. Prajith has assisted Vineeth in all three of his earlier movies, and naturally, there was a healthy rapport between them.

 “But this project really took off thanks to producer Vinod Shornur,” says Prajith. “He was insistent that I take up the project.” Their friendship too traverses many years; Vinod and Prajith were part of Vineeth’s (and Nivin Pauly’s) debut film Malarvadi Arts Club.   

 Prajith says that when the film was being scripted, they did not have Nivin Pauly in mind for the lead role. “We wanted to keep it open-ended and go with the flow. But with every scene that was written, Umesh seemed tailored for Nivin. The fact that we all have worked together earlier might have influenced us too,” says Prajith.

 As for the heroine, Prajith did not have to look far. The daughter of ace cinematographer Vipin Mohan, Manjima, was his neighbour. And in a way, it was a befitting ‘thank you’ to Vipin Mohan too, who inspired Prajith to join films.

 The film, he says, takes a look at the aspirations and attitudes of today’s youth without being judgmental. “I have been working for the past several movies with a cast and crew that were predominantly techies and engineering graduates. Several of them are smitten by films and make short films by the dozen. We have just brought in the new slice of life of youth in Kerala now.”

 Originally from Aranmula, Prajith now lives in Ernakulam but has a large circle of friends in Kannur, the milieu of the movie. “It was a great experience to watch the film with the audiences in several places. Watching them react to the film was an experience I cherish.”

 Prajith is also overwhelmed by the response from the industry, with several directors posting high-praise notes about the movie on their social media networks. “There was genuine happiness in their voice,” he adds.

 With every character of the film well-defined, the songs being superhits, Nivin Pauly once again shining through, Oru Vadakkan Selfie, now playing at theatres in the UAE, is a celebration of youth, one that has now been received well by family audiences too. As audiences celebrate, Prajith is taking it easy – and hasn’t thought of his next venture, as yet.

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