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‘Thanneer Mathan Dinangal’ is a coming-of-age story centred on grade 11 students Image Credit: Supplied

You don’t say no to a thirst quencher like watermelon.

Living up to its title is Malayalam film, ‘Thanneer Mathan Dinangal’ (Watermelon Days) directed by debutant AD Girish and produced by UAE resident Shebin Backer.

From the initial theatre count of 100 when it released in Kerala last week, this family entertainer is now being screened in 134 theatre halls.

“Additional shows have been added in existing halls not only in main cities but also in rural towns,” said Backer who produced the two award-winning films, ‘Charlie’ and ‘Take Off.’

This is Backer’s sixth production in a journey that began in 2010 with Lal Jose’s ‘Mulla.’ Though ‘Mulla’ was a flop, his next with Jose, ‘Pullippulikalum Aattinkuttiyum’, raked in the cash.

Matthew Thomas and Anaswara Ranjan in Thaneer Mathan Dinangal (16)-1565094241252

Backer’s last production was the Jose directed ‘Thattumpurath Achuthan.’ He also manages a real estate business in UAE.

Backer was impressed with one of Girish’s short films titled ‘Mookkuthi.’

When he met Girish, he liked the narration of ‘Thanneer Mathan Dinangal’.

“Girish came with a full bound script. This is not a big film but its success lies in its simplicity. The campus story is something that the audience can connect with at any age. It takes viewers on a nostalgic journey to school,” said Backer.


Debutant director AD Girish scores with his maiden film

It’s been raining bouquets for Malayalam director AD Girish and he is loving the celebration of his maiden film, ‘Thanneer Mathan Dinangal’.

This school campus tale that he co-wrote with debutant scenarist Dinoy Poulose marks his directorial debut. Earlier, Girish tested the waters as co-writer for Malayalam film, ‘Allu Ramendran’, starring Kunchako Boban in the lead role, that released this February.

“People are loving ‘Thanneer Mathan Dinangal’ as they connect with the story and its characters,” said Girish. “It makes them reflect on their school days and brings to mind fond memories.”

Thaneer Mathan Dinangal (4)-1565094256094

A native of Chalakudy, Girish met Poulose on social media and bonded over many things including their passion for cinema.

‘Thanneer Mathan Dinangal’ features Mathew Thomas as Jason, an insecure 12th grade student who has a crush on his classmate Keerthi, played by Anaswara Rajan.

Poulose also plays Jason’s elder brother, “a typical Malayali youth with an attitude and who is jobless”.

In a significant role, Vineeth Sreenivasan plays Ravi Padmanabhan, a teacher.

‘Thanneer Mathan Dinangal’ introduces around 30 newcomers who were selected through auditions.

A workshop was held to train the newcomers in acting. Jomon T John is the DOP. Music is scored by Justin Verghese.

An IT graduate, Girish worked with Kerala State Electricity Board for four years before quitting it for films.

Learning the ropes of filmmaking through short films, he was ready to go solo with ‘Thanneer Mathan Dinangal.’

Thaneer Mathan Dinangal (1)-1565094251571


Matthew Thomas in Thaneer Mathan Dinangal (19)-1565094265890

Mathew Thomas has watched ‘Thanneer Mathan Dinangal’ three times and would love to watch it again.

“The response has been very good,” said the two-film-old Malayalam actor. He was last seen in ‘Kumbalangi Nights’ as Franky the youngest brother, sharing screen space with Soubin Shahir, Shane Nigam and Sreenath Bhasi.

“People are laughing at most of the scenes. The humour in ‘Thanneer Mathan Dinangal’ is a big factor for its success. Besides it was a story that viewers could relate to. There was nothing fake about its emotions or situations, but moments one has seen or gone through in life,” said Thomas.

The young actor plays the lead role of Jason in the campus story directed by debutant AD Girish. Teenager Jason battles with his own securities and complexes while being drawn towards his classmate, the pretty Keerthi, played by Anaswara Rajan.

From a small role in ‘Kumbalangi Nights’ to playing the lead character in ‘Thanneer Mathan Dinangal’, Thomas is experiencing a huge learning curve.

He never aspired to become an actor. But when auditions were happening in his school for ‘Kumbalangi Nights,’ curiosity got the better of him.

He decided to participate in the first round of auditions fjust or the fun of it.

Being shortlisted for the next round spurred him on and before he knew it, Thomas attended all three levels and he got the role of Franky. The best was yet to come.

He underwent a six-month training course in acting organised by the director, besides learning to row a boat and to throw fishing nets in the river.

‘Thanneer Mathan Dinangal’ was easier compared to his first film, said the grade 11 student. “It is a story that I could relate to. There were situations that I have seen in my classroom,” he said.

When asked if like Jason he has a crush on someone, Thomas answers negative with a laugh.

He found director Girish a very patient teacher.

“He ensured that actors were clear on their characters and gave us enough space to perform,” said Thomas.

Vineeth Sreenivasan, who plays a teacher whom Jason dislikes, was like an older brother giving him tips on acting and appreciating him when he performed a scene well.

After ‘Thanneer Mathan Dinangal’ receiving critical acclaim, more scripts are coming his way. But Thomas is keen on focusing on his academics for now, with examinations not far away. But acting is something he will certainly pursue.



Matthew Thomas and Anaswara Ranjan in Thaneer Mathan Dinangal (14)-1565094246783
Matthew Thomas and Anaswara Ranjan in 'Thanneer Mathan Dinangal'. Image Credit: Supplied

Anaswara Rajan misses Malayali cuisine when in Chennai, especially kappa and meen curry (tapioca and fish curry). But she is not complaining. Her acting career that took off in 2017 with ‘Udaharanam Sujatha’ is taking her places.

Soon the grade 11 student will be packing her bags for a shoot in Uzbezikstan.

Not everyone gets to meet their idol and act with her, too. The Trisha fan is living her dream on the sets of Tamil film ‘Raangi’, her Tamil debut film and directed by M Saravanan.

The Payanoor native said, “Trisha looks like a Barbie doll, exactly how I saw her as a five-year-old when I watched ‘Gilli’ [Trisha’s hit film].”

‘Raangi’ is her fifth film.

With applause coming her way for her performance in ‘Thanneer Mathan Dinangal’, Anaswara is on a roll.

Anaswara found director Girish easy and fun to work with. She bonded well with co-actor Mathew Thomas. “We are good friends now,” she said.

Her next release in Malayalam is ‘Adhyarathri’, directed by Jibu Jacob, where she takes on the lead role.

Don’t miss it!

‘Thanneer Mathan Dinangal’ releases in the UAE on August 8.