Doordarshan dominating lazy Sunday afternoons in the year 1990. Eager eyes fixed on the silver of Tipu Sultan’s sword. Dust those memories and pause when you recollect a gaudily dressed, stern and tactful dewan, Purnaiya in the Sanjay Khan serial. Ananth Mahadevan, may not be a household name, but one glimpse at his snapshot and scenes from ‘Khiladi’ ‘Baazigar’ and ‘Baadshah’ come tumbling one after the other.
After marking his debut as a director with Bollywood’s first retro musical, ‘Dil Vil Pyaar Vyaar’, he tried a wee bit of every flavour. Thrillers like ‘Aksar’ and ‘Aggar’, a documentary drama, ‘Red Alert’ and recently a realistic movie, ‘I am Sindhutai Sapkal’, which shelved four national awards.
One mist clad morning, with a steaming cup of tea on the table, he was skimming through the newspaper when he glanced upon an article on Gaur Hari Das. A tale about a freedom fighter’s 35 year fight for a certificate of recognition. Ananth smoked him out in Dahisar, a Mumbai suburb and told him about his intention to make a biopic on him. After his initial doubts, Gaur got enthused and ready to ‘tell-all’ about his gritty battle.
Doordarshan dominating lazy Sunday afternoons in the year 1990. Eager eyes fixed on the Tipu Sultan\'s sword.
Vinay Pathak dons the role of Gaur Hari Das while Konakana Sen Sharma portrays his wife. The movie is due for a September release, and an interesting factor about the movie is the line up of in the movie. Scripted by poet/novelist CP Surendran, the background score has been tuned by Resul Pookotty, editing by Shekar Prasad and camera has been tamed by Alphons Roy. Not only the director and producer, but every department has a Mallu man beaming, some with a moustached smile and some just flashing whites.
Ask him about the Mallu Battalion in his movie and he lets a sly laughter, “That wasn’t intentional!”
Excerpts From the interview
Tell me a childhood memory of going to theatres, or watching movies in those days. When was it that you realised that you wanted to be a director?
As a child, cinema going was a luxury. Parents tend to keep orthodox South Indian brahmin boys far away from the influence of cinema. So in Thrissur, whenever I returned for summer vacations, I had an opportunity to catch up reissues like Tarzan, Caravan, and new Malayalam and Tamil films. It is an ironical twist of fate then, that I landed up in a profession that was kept away from me. But the magic of the moving image enveloped me fully and before I knew it I was into theatre, films and television as an actor. Of course, it followed logically that I graduate to making a full film, rather than be limited to performing in it.
Brought up and settled in Mumbai, what is it that you miss most about your hometown?
Kerala is unlike any other state in the country. I do miss the early memories of arrival into Kerala by the Madras Express and the morning fragrance of fresh air and the inviting view of lush green coconut trees, the sight of my entire family waiting to receive us at the station. My brother Ravi stayed back in Thrissur and thanks to him, I keep returning. The last time I came here, I lost my way. The simple streets have lost their modest home landmarks. Instead there are ugly buildings rearing their head. I hope and pray that Thrissur does not disappear under a roof of apartments. That would be tragic!
Tell me a touching incident that happened on the sets of Gaur Hari Dastaan
When Gour Hari Das landed up on our location, he was surprised to see Vinay Pathak’s amazing make over as Das. In fact the real Das’ family[wife, son, daughter-in-law] all felt that there was a stunning similarity between the two.I felt happy that the tough job we had undertaken to give Vinay Pathak a total change from his comic image had worked out well.
More than freedom fighters and Gaur, the film looks like a reflection of the society we live in. Of the never ending government procedures, the MLAs, the people who stand in between with their pockets caved out to catch pennies and also to some extent the film also reveals the money making mindset and the approach that media/newspapers take, preferring gay issues and such controversial matters to something as intense as this.
Is ‘Gaur Hari Dastaan’ a satire, or a reflection of the society in a way?
Everything that you said is correct. It is a scathing satire on one hand and an emotional sledgehammer on the other. A perfect mirror of the times we live in and a country gone wrong!