Prithviraj and Samyuktha Menon on their action thriller 'Kaduva' releasing July 7 in UAE

Prithviraj hopes the film gives the action genre in Malayalam cinema a boost.


Nasreen Abdulla

Published: Tue 5 Jul 2022, 4:47 PM

Last updated: Tue 5 Jul 2022, 4:52 PM

The Malayalam action thriller Kaduva, starring Prithviraj, Samyuktha Menon and Vivek Oberoi hits UAE screens this weekend. The cast and crew were in Dubai last week for the movie’s promotion, which kicked off with a spectacular 10-minute-long drone show. It was the first time that a film had been promoted with a drone display in the UAE.

The movie marks the comeback of ace director Shaji Kailas to the Malayalam film industry after almost a decade. Kailas is known for his mass action films and has helmed some of the most iconic movies in Malayalam like The King and Aaram Thamburaan. The movie has been in the making for over two years and has faced a host of issues including Covid-19 lockdowns, floods and multiple litigations. The legal troubles of the film stem from some individuals claiming that the movie is based on their lives. This caused the release of the film to be delayed by a week.

We caught up with the hero and heroine of the film, Prithviraj Sukumaran and Samyuktha Menon as they talk about the movie, their experience with Shaji Kailas and the state of the Malayalam industry post pandemic.

Kaduva is an ego tussle between two men: Prithviraj Sukumaran

What is it about Kaduva that prompted you to sign the movie?

It is something that dawned on me when I heard the script, the fact that we have somewhere stopped making these kinds of films. This thought came to me three years ago when I heard the script — for all the great cinema that is happening in Malayalam, one genre that we might have left behind are these larger than life, big canvas, action entertainers. Three years later, there is a very vociferous narrative in the Malayalam cinema world that if you want to watch action entertainers, you will have to watch other language films because we don’t have them in Malayalam anymore.

That is not something I enjoy hearing because there is nothing that stops us from attempting to make that kind of cinema. And Kaduva in that sense, I believe is a film that will answer that at least to a certain extent. It is very much a full-on mass action entertainer and I hope that it serves as an awakening of a genre that has been dormant for a while now.

Is it based on a true story?

I came to know about that claim only after the film’s pre-production work started. To me, it is a fully fictional story. The person who claims it is inspired from his life doesn’t seem to think so. There was a litigation in court and two courts ruled in our favour.

But unfortunately, when we applied for the censor is when we realised that there is another protocol that we have to follow for such films which is what is happening now. Hopefully things will get sorted out soon.

What does the plot of Kaduva revolve around?

To put it in a nutshell, it is an ego tussle between two men that then snowballs into something very big and at one point, the state machinery and state police get involved. That is putting the whole movie in a generic one-liner fashion. Even with all the action, larger than life moments and mass elements, the movie does have a very interesting story, narrated in a not-so-predictable fashion.

That is what attracted me to it as well. I will say only that much and let the audience discover the remaining in the theater.

How was the experience working with Shaji Kailas?

I have always been a big fan of his. Even today I believe that he is one of the few filmmakers who at one point single-handedly brought about a change to the mainstream cinema language of Malayalam. When I first heard the script of Kaduva, most of the reference visual that came to my mind were from his films. The story is set in the early 90s and there is this typical alpha male machismo.

That is the primary reason why I took the film to him. I am glad that this is the film he is making a comeback with in Malayalam. It is very much a Shaji Kailas film. All that fans of his cinema hope and expect to see, they will definitely see a lot of in this film.

Director Shaji Kailas with actor Vivek Oberoi, who also stars in 'Kaduva'.
Director Shaji Kailas with actor Vivek Oberoi, who also stars in 'Kaduva'.

We are seeing a lot of small films failing to pull crowds into theaters in recent times. How has the Malayalam film industry changed post Covid?

It has been an interesting couple of years for the industry. During Covid times, all of us put our projects on the backburner and started doing films that were smaller, that we could pull off under restricted conditions. The viewing behaviour of people across the country also changed. People were sitting at home, scrolling through available content and that sort of led to a discovery of Malayalam cinema, which is why there has been a lot of conversation about Malayalam films at the national level.

But now that the world has learnt to live with the pandemic, all of us are going back to our original line-up of big films. The great thing is, because of the national conversation, the revenue coming into Malayalam films has gone up quite a bit. So we now have the liberty of dreaming bigger, which is great. That being said, some films are facing a tough time getting people into the cinema halls. But it is not about the films being small that led them to not do well at theaters. If you take the example of Jana Gana Mana, it was a big film that did well at the theaters. But so did the movie Jo and Jo, which was a small film. So it is not about big or small films. It is very important that filmmakers take up the responsibility to communicate with the audience in a manner that makes them believe that (their) film is one they find three hours of time (for) and go to the theaters to watch.

When is the Malayalam film industry going to be ready for a national hit like Baahubali or KGF?

We are already ready. But we also need to understand that bigger dreams mean harder work. So it is okay to dream big but we have to follow that up with a lot of hard work. And we will work hard.

I had always been a fan of Prithvi: Samyuktha Menon

What can people expect from Kaduva?

A mass commercial entertainer is releasing after several years. So that is definitely a key point. However, in the Malayalam film industry there is always focus on a good plot and screenplay. So even though this is an action entertainer, the plot is extremely strong.

How was the experience of working with the team?

It was a dream come true. When the first poster of the film was released, I was not a part of the crew. So, when I saw it, I remember thinking to myself, ‘oh my God, this is going to be such an exciting movie’. Later, when I was offered the film, I was over the moon. I had always been a fan of Prithvi. When I became an actor as well, I started hearing so much about his knowledge of cinema, about his professionalism, about how great it is to work with him, so on and so forth. So I always wanted to work with him. This is the first time I have worked on such a big project in Malayalam, so it was a huge learning curve for me. After the first two days, I was a bit intimidated.

When you get a scene on paper, you read that and you create a mental image based on your previous experience, as an actor. But when I am in front of the camera and the director explains the scene to me, it is something completely different. Shaji Kailas sir has a special talent for bringing alive the screenplay. So then I decided to erase all my previous notions and go as a clean slate. I learnt to trust my director blindly and I was so amazed by the output. It was a really wonderful experience and something I will carry with me forever. Kaduva has been a journey for me. From shooting to promoting the film, it has been an amazing journey.

You have worked in several industries now. Is it easy to adapt?

No. It is not easy to adapt to a different working condition, a different place, a different language, to a different shooting style. When I first went to a Telugu film set, everyone kind of knew each other. To work and act with comfort, you need to interact with them and have a level of camaraderie. I am not that brilliant an actor that I can step in front of a camera and act.

I need to get to know people and understand their rhythm. So that is something I really worked on. However, because I am in love with what I do, I always look forward to having the adventure of adapting to a different industry. I learnt languages; I watched a lot of movies in those languages to understand that industry a little better.

What is your connection to Dubai?

Dubai holds a special place in my heart. Both my maternal and paternal grandparents lived and worked here. My maternal grandfather was a bank manager here for 30 years. My mother grew up here and went to the New Indian Model School in Dubai. She is so proud of the education she received here. My paternal grandfather was an employee at ADNOC.

My closest friends from school are all settled in Dubai. So when the drone show happened, it felt very special. My biggest movie promotion had happened in a city that meant so much to me.

Kaduva will be released by Phars Films in theaters all over the GCC on July 7.

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