Shane Nigam and Shruthy Menon in Kismath. Image Credit: Supplied

In an Indian society where religion and caste often come in the way of love, their romance seemed doomed from the beginning.

Irfan was a 23-year-old Muslim engineering student and Anita was a 28-year-old Hindu Dalit woman. Cupid bound them together.

But did their love turn into a ‘happily ever after?’

Malayalam film Kismath, directed by debutant Shahnavas K Bavakutty, is based on the tragic real-life story of a young couple.

Bavakutty, a politician and a Communist Party of India (Marxist) Councillor from Ponani, recalls being at the police station in the district in 2011 when the couple, facing opposition from their families, came there seeking protection.

“They wanted to live together,” he says.

What happened at the police station over the next two days is narrated in Kismath. The film is also about how their love affected their families and fed the political situation in the area.

Kismath drew out the hidden scriptwriter and director in this councillor, who never misses a new film released every Friday in India. Interestingly, Bavakutty has never assisted a director, nor is he trained in cinema, yet Kismath has received rave reviews.

Shane Nigam, who often plays supporting roles, now takes on the lead as Irfan. Television host and actress Shruthy Menon is paired opposite him as Anita. Vinay Fort plays a sub-inspector, Ajay C. Menon, a character with negative shades. The film was shot in Ponani.

“This is a simple, straight-forward story devoid of all commercial elements, but a story told realistically,” adds Bavakutty, who considers directors Rajeev Ravi and Anwar Rasheed as the inspiration behind him becoming a filmmaker.

What about the real Irfan and Anita?

“Irfan is no more,” he reveals.

“Anita is unmarried and lives with her mother. She teaches in a tutorial college,” he adds.

Kismath, produced by Rajeev Ravi’s Phase One Collective, releases in the UAE on August.



Why Shane Nigam is the new kid on the block

Four films old, Nigam was last seen in Rajeev Ravi’s Kammatipaadam, which also starred Dulquer Salmaan.

An engineering student, Nigam is the son of noted mimicry artist and actor, Abi.

With Kismath, Nigam has become a star of sorts and still can’t believe the appreciation the film has garnered for him.

In a chat with tabloid!, he says that he was unaware that Kismath was based on a true story until he reached the set.

“I was drawn to its socially relevant issue and wanted to be a part of this film that wanted to say something,” says Nigam.

Learning Ponani slang was the first step for this Ernakulam native.

What helped him bring out his character effectively was director Bavakutty’s inputs.

“His realistic approach scored. And, he gave us freedom and space to work on our roles,” adds Nigam, who would like to pursue cinematography after his graduation.