Deborah Young describes Bash Mohammed’s Prakasan as “one of the more direct and communicative films making their bow at the Mumbai Film Festival.” It’s also Bash’s second film after the critically-acclaimed Lukka Chuppi. More importantly it’s the second Malayalam film, after Angamaly Diaries, to be reviewed by Young for the prestigious Hollywood Reporter.
Bash who heads a designing studio in Dubai is elated by this rare honour. “I had a friend working in Variety magazine and when I asked him to write about Prakasan, he politely declined saying, ‘not unless it wins an international award’. And then this happened.” This Saturday, the film will be screened at the New York International festival
Prakasan doesn’t sound like a conventional story...
Yes. Rajeev Nair wrote the story, but the thought was mine. I was sitting in a coffee shop with Dinesh Prabhakar when his friend came and spoke about a job he didn’t like—meeting sex workers and distributing condoms. That was the trigger. Since someone from the forests would find it difficult to recognise sex workers, we placed it in a jungle and some tribal who inhabited it.
Weren’t you worried about its commercial viability?
This is not an arthouse movie. If ThondimuthalumDrikshahiyum got an audience, why not Prakasan?
Was cinema always on your mind?
Yes. I remember watching Ingmar Bergman and Charlie Chaplin films. Later graduated to Alfred Hitchcock, Roman Polanski. And of course, watched every single Malayalam film. After passing out from Thrissur College of Fine Arts, I did a lot of TV commercials. Cinema was the next step.
Lukka Chuppi was more a Torrent hit. What went wrong?
I didn’t have the luxury of time or money on my first film or even Prakasan for that matter. Lukka Chuppi was shot in 14 days while Prakasan was filmed in 24 days in 94 locations. Most popular directors finish a film in 60-70 days. I would love to work in that kind of space and time. Financial constraints and being a newcomer settled in Dubai came with its own set of issues. Being a Torrent or YouTube hit didn’t excite me. Also the fact that Premam was released during the same time affected us.
Was it easy to sell the idea to its principal actors?
Murali Gopy understood the gist of the theme. He said only one thing—"I don’t want people to yawn, as the story is placed in one home.” Jayasurya I knew from before.
I thought the title was a bit off-the-mark…
I do accept that. But for an expat like me, it just sounded so fine. In fact, Mammukka had called and said he loved the film. He too asked, ‘what nonsensical name is that?’
Post marriage squabbles, nostalgia, lost love—the theme is nothing earth-shattering yet there was something very novel about its making.
I think married people got the connection instantly. These things happen in every home. We all have untold crushes. We don’t have a single flashback scene, just a lot of conversations. That’s new.
Were there any biographical elements in the film?
Yes, mostly personal experiences. In fact, I am a mix of Jayasurya and Murali Gopy. I have his job, but Murali Gopy’s crush is my story. The girl who ignores my wife has happened in my life. It’s not a thriller but there is a lot of intrigue in the story.
Indrans’ character is again someone we all come across during our college days…
I was a bit sceptical about including that scene and asked Rasool Pookutty who did the sound to just let me know whether to keep it. He said, no way are you going to edit that very emotional moment as it reminded him of the peanut vendor during his school days.
When are you the happiest during the making of a film?
The happiest moment is when I see the first cut and it goes smoothly, without distractions. That’s the most peaceful part, the moment when we know whether we have really made that emotional connection.
Shooting with tribals in Wayanad. Did you make any findings?
Yes, that they are as modern as you and me. They all have mobile phones, love pizzas and burgers and even study English literature.
Are you fine with actors chipping in with suggestions?
I am fine with improvisations; after all cinema is team work. Sometimes they do overstep and that’s where I draw a line.
You have given the male perspective in Lukka Chuppi. Will there be a second part to talk about the women’s point of view?
I don’t think I have ignored women. I can only show one side. Murali did talk about a second part and there we will get both their version and also show the character transformations.
Who are the directors you look up to?
Woody Allen for his drama, Roman Polanski, for his ability to handle genres. I am not a fan of Tarantino or Kim Ki Duk. I love Sathyan Anthikad-Sreenivasan films and recently I loved Maheshinte Prathikaram and Parava. I envy our filmmakers—they do only films. I want to have that luxury—to eat, sleep, think cinema.
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