'Ajagajantharam': A temple festival, an elephant, and chaos

Ajagantharam traverses the line that separates man from animal, a recurrent theme found in Angamaly Diaries and Jallikattu

author_img Sajin Shrijith Published :  21st December 2021 09:56 PM   |   Published :   |  21st December 2021 09:56 PM

A still from 'Ajagajantharam'

Four years after his acting debut in Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Angamaly Diaries, Kichu Tellus has graduated to a storyteller, with the backing of the very people that launched him.

In the forefront is Lijo himself, who first expressed interest in bringing Kichu’s script to the screen but later handed it over to his trusted associate and frequent collaborator, Tinu Pappachan, since he had already made two films on chaos involving an animal. But before that, Lijo made a small contribution —the title, Ajagajantharam. 

Kichu is part of the cast headlined by Antony Varghese, Arjun Ashokan, Sudhi Koppa, Sabumon Abdusamad, Jaffer Idukki, and others.

The action entertainer, which finally hits theatres on December 23 after a long wait, is based on an incident that happened in Kichu’s life. He had first narrated it to Chemban Vinod Jose, who then informed Lijo.

The latter planned to film the incident exactly as it happened, with no embellishments whatsoever. But when Tinu got involved, he had bigger plans, says Kichu, who found a way to go wild with the narrative. 

“It was Lijo and Tinu that pushed me to come up with ideas that were beyond what I initially had in mind. Tinu wanted it to be bigger. More fights, more characters... that was his thing,” says Kichu, who then called up actor-writer Vineeth Vishwam to help put his best ideas on paper, along with some of Vineeth’s own.

“I called Vineeth as I was unfamiliar with the writing process. Since he has been part of the industry for a while, I needed someone who can neatly translate everything to the page.”

Ajagantharam traverses the line that separates man from animal, a recurrent theme found in Angamaly Diaries and Jallikattu. In an earlier conversation with us, Tinu conveyed the tremendous challenges that came with an elephant’s presence on set.

There’s an explanation for why an elephant came to be part of Ajagajantharam. Before turning actor, Kichu used to supply elephants to temples on lease. Ajagajantharam was born out of an incident involving one of the three elephants in his possession. 

“The event was such a big deal that the locals haven’t forgotten it yet,” recalls Kichu.

“Lijo chettan wanted to study the area in Paravur where it all happened. When I accompanied him, seven years later after the incident, some residents recognised me. They asked me if I was the same person they saw back then, and I said no. But you can’t fool them. They remember everything clearly. They told us that no elephant stepped foot in that place after that incident.” 

As evident from the film’s promos, Ajagajantharam is bigger in scale compared to Tinu’s first film, the impressive prison-break thriller Swathandryam Ardharathriyil. Kichu and Vineeth left the detailing of the action sequences to the stunt choreographer instead of doing it in the scripting stage.

“We did most of it for real. The visual effects are minimal,” shares the actor-writer, who confined his script to a temple and its neighbouring areas. “We had just one extra location aside from the temple. But despite the limited settings, we had to resolve some challenging continuity issues. Fortunately, everything turned out well.”