Murali Gopy: A warrior of words
'A Murali Gopy screenplay' is a new brand in cinema, and one that stands for intelligent entertainment from the journalist-turned-actor
Measured in time, the duration between an unassuming cricket journalist in Dubai becoming a still-unassuming screenwriter brand in cinema was just about 10 years. But just as one couldn't take out cinema from the sports journalist, you cannot take out cricket and Sachin Tendulkar from Murali Gopy. In sports and cinema, Murali has a stand: "Respect the game, respect the medium."
To stay respectful to either isn't easy in an era of polarization. "Look at the cricket matches between India and Pakistan. If you cannot also respect the game - and cheer when you see a fantastic shot from the 'other side,' what is the point?" If there is gravitas and concern in Murali's words, it isn't coincidental. Tiyaan, 'a Murali Gopy screenplay,' is releasing shortly.
While he had been busy with his acting career, he took a break for nearly two years to write Tiyaan, starring Prithviraj and Indrajith, and Kammara Sambhavam, now being filmed with Dileep and Siddharth. Murali plays a central role in both. He is also taking one of the most-talked about projects in Malayalam today - Mohanlal's Lucifer to be directed by Prithviraj. "The challenge is extraordinary," says Murali, and that is why he prefers not to talk about it right now.
Tiyaan - A Pan-Indian Film
But there is much to talk about Tiyaan, directed by Jiyen Krishnakumar. It is Kerala's first pan-Indian cinema, if you may - not just in structure but also in its narrative soul. "Not a scene is shot in Kerala," says Murali of the Rs20 crore film, shot in 100 days. "The film's budget is perhaps half the expense that took to shoot just the climax of Baahubali 2.'
Murali is taking on a bold theme in Tiyaan. Faith meets extremism is highly potent stuff, and in the hands of lesser writer, it could descend to polemics. But Murali has a deft control over his subjects - as he proved in Left Right Left, which annoyed partisan left and right-wing parties in equal measure. It is hard to bracket Murali's films for their political leanings or genre - and that is what brings intellectual honesty to his writing.
"Everyone wants to pin you into a viewpoint. It is like the WWF doubles matches. One corners the opponent so the other can trash him to pulp. But when you cannot be cornered into ideological brackets, there is bewilderment. Writing with an agenda is easy; watching/reviewing without an agenda is the tough part. Just as writing is an art, so is viewing."
"I write with respect, bowing before that infinitesimal wisdom. I believe I wage the 'right war.' As Tiyaan's protagonist says, before the right war, there is a terrible moment of absolute powerlessness that comes from the realisation that one is alone."
The 'alone' moment for Murali comes when he writes - and then he gives it all. Tiyaan, he believes, comes at a very critical time for India, which he says is at a 'sociological cusp.'
"Extremism is muffling the voice of reason not between faiths or ideologies, but within themselves. The war is not between belief systems but within," he observes. Tiyaan, as the story of 'an overpowered, confused Malayalam' in the 'land of Devanagari,' says Murali "is about what Kerala has to tell the rest of India."
But he is unequivocal that Tiyaan is an entertainer. "I do not write for awards or to pander to the ideological leaning of the jury member. I never take entertainment out of my cinema. Of course, financial gains count. But equally important to me is the take-home value of the movies I give. If at least one aspect, if not all, of what I write... finds a place in my viewer's heart, I'd be a very contented man."
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