Director’s cut

Director’s cut

Lawyer-turned-director Sachidanandan opens up about his new ambitious project

Sachidanandan Alias Sachi could not have asked for a better career record. A practising lawyer in Ernakulam, Sachi’s first solo venture as writer, Run Baby Run, is one of the biggest hits in Malayalam this year. And he is scaling the next rung in the industry ladder, turning director for Rajeev Nair, the producer of Ordinary, even as his new venture as scenarist, Chettayis, is all set to hit the theatres soon.

One could call it a dream run, if you may. After all, Sachi started as co-writer with Sethu, the duo credited with four super-hit films and one damp squib.

Sachi-Sethu’s debut was with Chocolate, which presented a different premise – the travails of a single male student in an women’s college, laced with wit, action and the works. Next was Robin Hood: The Prince of Thieves, a nail-biting thriller set around a series of bank robberies in a vintage cat-and-mouse game between the thief and the cop who is hot on his heels. The success of Make-up Man, which gave a fresh lease of life to actor Jayaram, and the 40s club comedy, Seniors cemented the position of the young writers as hit-makers.

The sad show of their next venture Doubles, starring Mammootty and Nadia Moithu, reports said hinted that the two writers were parting ways. The news was confirmed when Sachi took up the solo writing assignment for Run Baby Run.

So what really happened? Did one failure test their friendship?

Sachi laughs aside the suggestion. “We joined hands to part,” he says. “Even before we started working on films, we had the understanding between us that we will work together only to part so we can find our own individual place in the industry.”

Perhaps it happened soon but then Malayalam cinema is rich with splitsville stories of writers, the most famous being that of Siddique and Lal, who continue to be the best of friends.

Sachi says that his teaming up with Sethu was not facilitated through cinema. “Ours was a landlord-tenant relationship.” The two lawyers had shared office space, a passion for cinema being a common factor. One thing led to the other, contacts were shared, stories swapped and before they knew it, they were writing a superhit film.

Sachi says there are pros and cons working as a duo. “When two minds come together, a certain amount of compromise is important. We do that compromise while writing, and then it has to go through another round of compromise when the director whets the script.”

Now, turning director, he can stick to his own convictions about filmmaking. But Sachi is not ready to make the sort of movies that he grew up watching – films that influenced him to enter films – the arthouse movies that he passionately pursued as a student. “Rajeev is my friend. He is investing his hard-earned money into a film and he is offering me the opportunity to direct. I cannot make it my vanity piece. I have to ensure that he doesn’t lose his money,” says Sachi.

The new film, yet to be titled, will be a destination movie, says Sachi, and would possibly be shot on location in one of the picturesque islands in the Indian Ocean. “It is the story of a man who is stranded in an isolated place, reaching out to the world. I can’t reveal more details now,” says Sachi.

The success of Run Baby Run and the huge expectations of Chettayis, of course, puts a bit of a pressure on him. “But the good part is that I get to work with friends – from Biju Menon to Rajeev – and that is a big comfort cushion.”

He says that Run Baby Run wasn’t planned to be set on the backdrop of the media industry. “I was watching the film Bliss, by Turkish director Abdulla Oguz, at a festival, and there was one line that scrawled through the subtitles – ‘it was the rehearsal of a crime.’ And it stuck with me,” says Sachi.

Adapting that one-liner to the media industry meant learning about the industry. “I didn’t want to make a mistake that commonly happens. See, as lawyers, when we watch courtroom scenes in our movies, we burst out laughing – because in real life, it is anything but what you see on screen. I didn’t want the journalist fraternity to laugh at us,” says Sachi.

He adds that none of the characters in the movie are caricatures of any media personality. “We had given strict guidelines to every actor, especially to Biju Menon, not to imitate any anchor or presenter,” explains Sachi.

Sachi isn’t too fussed about the so-called ‘new generation’ movie making style. “I think what is most critical is the story line; you build the script based on the story – we cannot have a script style first and then make a story to match it.”

For Sachi, the goal is clear: More movies – as writer or director. And some day, he might make the movie that conforms to the high-taste in international cinema, which he had acquired by being part of the near-dead ‘film society’ movement in Kerala.

Until then, let the box-office jingle.

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