It is the first time in 17 years that Mahesh Narayanan and Kunchacko Boban are reuniting for “Ariyippu” (“Declaration”), the first Indian film to participate in Locarno’s international competition. The Malayalam film tells the story of Hareesh (Boban) and Reshmi (Divya Prabha), who work in a medical glove factory near Delhi and dream of going abroad.
When an old video surfaces among the factory workers during the COVID-19 lockdowns, it opens up Pandora’s box that threatens both their jobs and marriage. In a newspaper article, Narayanan read about a female bank employee who approached the Mumbai high court to get a “declaration” stating that a video circulated in her bank was of a look-alike, not her.
Narayanan continued to think about the idea until he came up with the idea of a migrant couple working in a gloves factory. Narayanan’s fourth film as a director is based on a personal struggle, though thematically different. Even though “Take Off” was viewed as a rescue/survival drama, there are other layers to the story.
This is the story of a divorced nurse who hides her pregnancy from her son from her first marriage. It had so many layers to tell, including her son’s own questioning of her motherhood. Often, I try to bring up contemporary topics about what our country or region is going through.
Narayanan told Variety that this will give the story more depth and relevance. According to some, “Malik” is a gangster drama, but if you look closely, it’s about marginalized communities struggling for their land rights. Again, ‘C U Soon’ was about the labor trap that still exists in our society.”
In Ariyippu, too, there is an issue that is still relevant among the labor class during these COVID times. Thus, all these films have some kind of thematic similarity,” explains Narayanan. The way I make films is somewhat influenced by documentary filmmaking. In that sense, it can be called a conscious choice, since it gives people more access to each other.
I tried pushing myself a little beyond the normal space of mid-stream cinema with ‘Ariyippu.’ I didn’t want to corrupt the story with regular dramatic twists and turns, even though the story is relatable to common people.”
Indian cinema has been enriched by Narayanan, one of its renaissance men. Additionally, he is a cinematographer who debuted with “Malayankunju” and a veteran editor with more than 60 credits, many of which feature Boban. A pivotal role was played by Boban in Narayanan’s directorial debut “Take Off.”
In addition to serving as a producer, Boban founded Kunchako Boban Productions. Among the producers are Boban’s Udaya Pictures, Narayanan’s Moving Narratives, as well as Shebin Backer, who co-produced the film with Boban.
Mahesh has edited more films that I’ve starred in than any other actor, and so he has encouraged, supported, and persuaded me to try out different kinds of movies and characters, to keep breaking stereotypes,” Boban told Variety. Naturally, when we decided to make a movie together, we wanted to create something memorable and satisfying.
As a performer, Hareesh has been one of my most intense roles. The film ‘Ariyippu’ is a marital drama that deals with the couple’s personal issues as well as a scam going on at their workplace, which affects them both,” Boban says. I was so exhausted and drained after the day’s shoot because of the emotional turmoil these characters are going through.
Mahesh was hell-bent on showing me in a different light than I might have previously played in some of my earlier films. My role as Hareesh has so many shades and layers that I was able to reinvent and remold myself to get under the skin of such a complex character, something I had never experienced before. Kudos to Mahesh for making this possible.
The film’s narrative takes place during a few intense days and sleepless nights for my character, so I cut down on my sleeping hours and skipped my exercise routine in order to develop a paunch,” explains Boban.
Throughout the shooting schedule, whether on or off camera, I felt as though I carried the pulsating emotions of my character Hareesh with me, which made it a truly memorable experience for me as an actor.
Boban’s next projects include “Nana Thaan Case Kodu” (“Sue Me”), directed by Ratheesh Balakrishnan Poduval; a political thriller by Tinu Pappachan; and “Padmini” by Senna Hegde. In development is Narayanan’s “Phantom Hospital,” based on the research of Indian journalist Josy Joseph on a medical scam.
The idea of showcasing my film at a premiere festival before its release has always been an ambition of mine. I am very happy that the Locarno selection committee accepted Ariyippu, understanding its relevance and values,” says Narayanan.
We are absolutely thrilled about this. Our film has also been invited to many other festivals around the world because of this launching pad,” says Boban. Our efforts that we have put in with great passion and commitment are yielding such good results, and we are extremely happy, proud, and even relieved. This is just so surreal and mind-blowing, I’m just really grateful.”
Robert Poirrer is a contributing author who covers Hollywood latest movie releases and web series for the MovieThop website. He has a decade of experience in writing movies based articles for numerous renowned media outlets. He is excellent at creating unique content based on emerging trends in a variety of categories especially entertainment, movies and lifestyle. When not writing articles you could find Robert enjoying mountain biking trips with his friends. He graduated in English Literature from North Carolina State University.