Screenwriter S Suresh Babu ventures into production; six films announced
The Oruthee screenwriter is collaborating with four filmmakers in addition to bankrolling two of his own projects under his new banner
Screenwriter S Suresh Babu, who gifted Navya Nair with a strong comeback performance last year in director VK Prakash’s Oruthee, is foraying into film production with cousin Unni Raveendran. Their banner, Janattha Motion Pictures Private Limited, was launched by Mohanlal on Thursday. The launch preceded the announcement of six projects backed by the company.
To start a production house of his own has been a long-cherished dream of Suresh Babu since he began his stint as a scenarist over two decades ago. Among the newly announced projects are those helmed by Tharun Moorthy, Tinu Pappachan, Bhadran, and Ratheesh K Rajan.
In addition, two projects of Suresh Babu’s own titled Manoharanum Janakiyum and Arribada will go into production first. Suresh tells us that the former will feature entirely newcomers, including technicians. Arribada, on the other hand, will have Shane Nigam headlining it.
Ratheesh’s project is titled Start Action Savithri, led by Navya Nair, who plays a housewife looking to produce a short film. Suresh informs us that the casting of the other projects is ongoing. “They could be newcomers. The names are getting finalised,” he says, adding, “We are aiming for these to be content-focussed, not just something that’s going to be actor-centric or written for actors, and that’s precisely the reason for us teaming up with Tharun Moorthy and Tinu Pappachan. We are giving them the freedom to do that. As long as the content is convincing enough, they can do it with newcomers or established actors.”
Suresh cites the Kunchacko Boban-starrer Nna Thaan Case Kodu as an inspiring, encouraging model. “In that, we saw Chackochan portrayed in a way that made him look unfamiliar. And look at how many newcomers in it earned applause for their performances. You see, audiences become happy when they see extraordinary events like those. The advantage of casting familiar faces is that they come with preconceived notions, which is not a concern with unfamiliar ones. I don’t think the ‘Aayiram Kannumayi’ sequence in NTCK would’ve worked that well with familiar faces. It’s all about creating content closer to life and organic, which is what we are hoping to do with our company, too. Now it doesn’t mean we won’t work with big stars. We will when we have characters that suit them.”
Stressing on that oft-repeated phrase “Content is king,” Suresh acknowledges the existence of audiences for serious (or realistic) films. “There are takers for both kinds of cinema realistic or otherwise. In the old days, something like Mukamukham used to screen for a noon show only but did big business regardless. Since then, there has been a change in the audience’s sensibilities, but that old Malayali dormant in him gets awakened when films like RRR, KGF, and Kaduva come along. They are not bothered by the logic in them. People would get drawn to this sort of cinema initially; this trend of celebrating big-scale festive entertainers will last for a while until there is a change in that too.”
Adding further to this point, Suresh believes there will be a “market for small-scale films, provided they are well-made, no matter who the star is. Yes, it is demotivating for filmmakers when the success of mass films makes theatre owners lose interest in smaller films. When they ask filmmakers like Tharun Moorthy whether people would be interested in watching their kind of films, it doesn’t help. But eventually, it’s films about human life and existence that would get a relatively warmer reception because they are obviously more relatable.”
Now, what about that Oruthee sequel? “It’s happening, of course. We are envisioning it as a courtroom drama,” says Suresh. “The first film came out of a want and awareness to try something different, which eventually turned out successful. The second one will deal with the after-effects of the events from the first—an ordinary housewife taking on a corporate group, the overwhelming pressure, how it impacts her life... All this should take a significant amount of time and research, considering the kind of complexities involved. It’s an exciting area for me. VKP is attached to direct this one too.”