The tagline for Abhiyum Anuvum reads: “A fearless love story.”
The movie, filmed in Tamil and Malayalam, is directed by Asia’s first woman cinematographer, B. R. Vijayalakshmi. It’s her second directorial feature after Paattu Padavu, made in 1995.
Malayalam cinema’s heartthrob Tovino Thomas plays the lead opposite Pia Bajpai. Tovino plays a software professional named Abhi, while Bajpai plays Anu, a vivacious young organic farmer. They meet online, fall in love and begin a long distance relationship. After they tie the knot, a situation arises that questions the validity of their marriage.
Vijayalakshmi cast Thomas after watching his Malayalam film Guppy. She thought he was an intense actor and ideal for Abhi’s role.
“Besides, I wanted someone new to Tamil cinema,” she said.
“It is a unique situation — something that can happen to anyone around,” said Vijayalakshmi. “[This situation] happened somewhere in Latin America and was brought to my notice.”
“It’s a love story without the stereotypical hitches that lovers face — no opposing parents for one. I have made it as raw as possible and is an emotional one,” she added.
Vijayalakshmi, the daughter of late director and producer B.R. Panthalu, was a qualified interior designer and never planned to have a film career. Her brother B.R. Ravishankar, who worked in Kannada cinema, encouraged her pursue this path. After training under cinematographer Ashok Kumar for more than four years, Vijayalakshmi made her first step as an independent cinematographer with Tamil film Chinna Veedu. This was in an era where Indian women cinematographers were unheard of. She was hailed as Asia’s first woman cinematographer.
While producers such as Manobala, Bhagyaraj and Manivannan trusted her with their films, one particular producer’s apprehension over her skills left her disappointed.
“I came home that evening to watch a small boy playing a mandolin on television and he became my inspiration to pull myself up,” said Vijayalakshmi. The child prodigy was U. Srinivas, also known as Mandolin Srinivas.
Years later, the same producer complimented Vijayalakshmi for her work in Tamil film Thalattu Ketkuthamma.
Her marriage to editor Sunil Shree Nair and family commitments took her away from cinema. Vijayalakshmi subsequently worked in television and is currently the senior vice president at music company Saregama India.
Abhiyum Anuvum also stars Suhasini Maniratnam, Rohini, Kalairani, Manobala and Kavithalaya Krishnamoorthy.
With spouse Shree Nair as editor of the film, Vijayalakshmi said that her work became easier.
“He is a perfectionist and my critic,” said Vijayalakshmi, who is also the co-producer of Abhiyum Anuvum along with Vikram Mehra.