Malayalam cinema takes unabashed pride in their realistic and gritty dramas, but actors Tovino Thomas and Kalyani Priyadarshan aren’t in the mood to cater to that popular sentiment. Enter their whacky entertainer ‘Thallumaala’, out in UAE cinemas on August 12.
Directed by Khalid Rahman, this film is an experimental meta comedy/action drama that boasts eccentric players. Shot partly in Dubai, each scene and stunt in this film is stylishly filmed. The hero also exudes a certain inimitable swagger with his giant sunglasses and designer-heavy jumpers.
The lead stars, including Shine Tom Chacko, were in Dubai to promote their film earlier this week and here’s what they had to say about their zany entertainer.
Never take this film too seriously:
Kalayani Priyadarashan, the daughter of prolific filmmaker Priyadarshan and actress Lissy, claims the entire purpose of ‘Thallumaala’ — which translates into ‘string of fights’ — is just about having a lot of fun.
“It’s a weird and new formula. There’s no moment in this film which is taken too seriously … Not a single character, not a single scene, not a single fight … There are no moments which will make you cry in this film … This is an out-and-out entertainer which will put a smile on all those who watch it from start to finish … And we have stayed away from the commercial formula of filmmaking here,” she says. ‘Thallumaala’ strays away from the familiar tropes seen in Malayalam films such as realistic protagonists and sobering circumstances in life.
We are overdramatic and we are proud of it:
Both Tovino and Kalyani play reckless and devilish millennials with an outlandish wardrobe to boot. While Kalyani plays a borderline narcissistic social media influencer Fatima, Tovino is notorious for triggering brawls and fights. Sparks fly when these two unlikely souls connect.
The bombastic and colourful trailer proudly shows the hero — an in-form Tovino — claiming that he specialises in fights and skirmishes that break out at concerts, bars, or even supermarkets. At any given day, Tovino’s character is game for a fight.
“The whole film is an exaggerated reality/satire. It’s not set in a real world … And even our clothes are exaggerated beyond a crazy limit. Imagine Tovino is wearing a Gucci jumpsuit and the works … We are so used to seeing hyperrealistic world in Malayalam cinema that we just want to break out of that mould and we have managed to that hopefully,” said Kalyani.
Tovino describes this film as his career’s most experimental work till date.
“We wanted to try something new and I hope we have succeeded,” said Tovino.
Tovino and Kalyani are two of Malayalam cinema’s most promising and young talents to dominate the entertainment scene today. If Tovino shone in romances like ‘Mayanadhi’ and home-grown superhero flick like ‘Minnal Murali’, then Kalyani has endeared in films such as ‘Hridayam’ and ‘Bro Daddy’.
Kalyani takes one for the social media influencers out there by playing a character that takes it seriously:
Just like the majority of us out there, Kalayani viewed social media influencing and their daily grind with a pinch of salt. But after playing that role, she’s now forced to reconsider her stand and has grudgingly acknowledged that these are culture shapers of the future.
“There was a time when influencers wanted to become celebrities, now celebrities want to become influencers. The opposite has begun to happen. There’s a big shift in thought processes … So many of us now have begun making reels. While I don’t have a particular stance on any of this, it’s interesting to watch their behaviour in general. The way it’s all shifting is an interesting case study,” said Kalayni.
Watch out for our incredibly chemistry:
Tovino was hoping that his co-star Kalyani would talk him up by claiming that he’s one of the most stupendous actors in the Malayalam film industry today. But no such luck.
“He’s pretty and so pleasing to the eye,” said Kalyani, breaking into a laugh. According to her, Tovino is one of the few actors who can have sizzling chemistry with any co-star.
“He has done some great work in this film … But even when it comes to our chemistry in this film, it’s nothing serious. Even our loving in this film is light-hearted. Don’t expect passion that borders on some Shakespearean kind of love, we warn you,” said Kalyani.
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‘Thallumaala’ is out in UAE cinemas on August 12
“It’s a huge compliment because one of the reasons why I wanted to get into cinema was because of Nazriya. I am obsessed with her and she knows this too. She’s gorgeous and has a charm that’s mesmerising. She has so much charisma that you just can’t take your eyes off her when she’s on screen. She’s real and whole.”
Her famous parents:
“My mom is my biggest fan and loves whatever I do, while my dad is my biggest critic. But it’s also nice to see my dad being surprised at how far I have grown with each film. He’s very, very proud. He was nervous when I first started out, but now he’s just happy and proud. He has never picked up a phone to make a film happen for me … He has never listened to a single story that has come my way … If I ever need advice, I go to Dulquer [Salmaan] or Rajuettan [Prithviraj]. Since we have similar backgrounds, they are likely to understand my insecurities. My dad has always taken a back seat with my career. He’s always like: ‘do what you want.”
Social media turning into a big boon in her life:
“I faced a lot of insecurity, but it was social media fans who gave me the confidence … I don’t look like a six-foot model and I don’t have those qualities that many usually expect in a heroine, but social media fans gave me the confidence to forge ahead … Sometimes, I find so many flaws in my own pictures but when I upload them I get so much love and admiration for it … My self-esteem has improved, thanks to social media.”
Money not being the driving force in her acting career:
“I come from a place of privilege … I don’t look at it from an actor’s perspective alone, I look at it from a filmmaker/producer’s perspective too … A hero is often more bankable, so can you blame a producer for paying him more … He knows he’s like to make a certain amount of money with a certain hero … Even in ‘Thallumaala’, Tovino shot for 90 to 100 days while I shot for 30 days, so why should I charge the same as him? In your head, we need to evaluate what we are worth … And if I comment on this then I am just speaking as a privileged person. There are actors who have families to take care of and you can’t forget that either.”