Martin Prakkat's Charlie has swept the Kerala State Film Awards, leaving the director ecstatic, writes Deepa Gauri
AS FAR AS media speculation on the Kerala State Film Awards went, Charlie was the essential underdog. It wasn't touted as a potential winner, nor was its lead actor Dulquer Salman, nor the very least, its director Martin Prakkat. Martin says that the day before the awards were to be announced, he got a call from his friend, co-producer of Charlie and actor Joju, saying it had entered the final round. But Martin was too sceptical to give it any serious consideration. Not surprisingly, he did not disclose that Charlie could be a potential winner even to his family.
And when the awards were being announced, he was sitting in his home in Changanasseri, taking it easy, when things turned around dramatically. Charlie went on a winning rampage, picking up awards for Best Director (Martin), Actor (Dulquer Salman), Actress (Parvathy), Cinematographer (Jomon T John), Scriptwriter (R Unni & Martin Prakkat), Art Director (Jayashree) and Best Sound Mixing (MR Rajakrishnan). While Parvathy and Jomon T John were also feted for their work in Ennu Ninte Moideen, the citations of the jury clearly highlight why Charlie too contributed to their win.
Martin is ecstatic, no doubt, not in the wildest of his dreams having expected any state-level recognition. "Dulquer and I used to say that awards were not for us," he smiles. He says he never harboured any ambition for winning awards until very recently when watching the awards declared by TV channels in Kerala. "My little daughter turned to me and asked why 'our film' never gets any awards," says Martin. "I hoped then, perhaps a little, for some recognition."
And when it came, it poured, indeed. Martin says his one hope and dream was that Dulquer should win. "Kalpana chechi (who passed away recently) was the first to tell me that he would get an award for the movie." Martin sets aside all recognition for the movie in her memory. "Charlie was sheer teamwork. The amount of time each one of us had set aside for this movie is unbelievable. Unni, normally, writes a script in two months; for Charlie, we took one year. Dulquer devoted a full seven months for the movie; Parvathy did not take up any other commitment nor did Jomon."
On the citation by the jury that the film is being honoured for its attempt to innovate both creatively and technically, Martin says that there was no other way the film would have worked. "We had to tell the story in a manner that was not attempted before; and I am not being boastful here. The script demanded the approach."
He says that Charlie's rights have already been sold in Bengali, Marathi and Tamil, with discussions ongoing for its Hindi and Telugu rights. "We also hope to dub the film into English for non-Malayali audiences, even possibly in the Gulf region," says Martin.
The feel-good story of a do-gooder, who come in like a gentle breeze and touches the lives of others, Martin says, does conform to the mainstream format of commercial entertainment. "I think that has always been the heritage of Malayalam cinema; films by Padmarajan and Bharathan were astounding works of art. Maheshinte Prathikaram, which now plays to packed houses in Kerala, is also a class work that entertains. I do not think films must not be entertaining to make them art-worthy."
Martin says he has no remorse or complaint that the film, despite shining in every other category, did not win Best Film. "All these were unexpected; I cannot have asked for more." He is delighted that the Best Film, Ozhivu Divasathe Kali by Sanalkumar Sasidharan is based on Unni's story. "Further, my dear friend Bijibal also won for best background score, while Joju got a special jury award for acting. When they win, it is like Team Charlie wins."
Team Charlie, in the meanwhile, continues to cause a buzz in social media, and Martin is happy that the film is also being noticed by the top stars and directors in other languages. The award haul, however, puts no pressure on Martin. "I am not going to make a film wearing the label of awards. I know fully well that people come to watch my movies not for me but for the team that showcases their talent. My only goal is to make films that beat the predictions of audiences. There has to be something new, and it has to be entertaining. Period."