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Nithin Renji Panicker on directing Suresh Gopi and Renji Panicker in ‘Kaaval’

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Director’s second Malayalam film, released on November 25, revolves around two friends turned enemies

Actor and MP Suresh Gopi returns to the big screen in Nitin Renji Panicker Kaaval, released on November 25 in theaters. Nithin, son of screenwriter, actor and director Renji Panicker, says his second film Kaaval is “an action thriller”.

Written by Nithin, the story is about two friends turned enemies and the changes in their lives over two decades. Suresh Gopi and Renji play the main protagonists – Thampan and Antony.

Suresh Gopi with director-writer Nithin Renji Panicker on the sets of ‘Kaaval’ | Photo credit: Special arrangement

Located in two time periods, Kaaval follows the timeline of the two main characters as they go through the ups and downs of their businesses and lives. “They were allies before an incident created a wedge between them,” he reveals.

Renji’s punchless scripts in the late ’90s had catapulted Suresh into the mega-league of stars and made him look like a super cop. So what was it like to lead these two friends and contemporaries? “I grew up watching my father’s movies. So, I had always wanted to direct Uncle Suresh. I was waiting for a screenplay written by my father. When that didn’t work, I continued with my script. It has been a privilege to work with these veterans, ”admits Nithin.

Renji Panicker (left) and Nithin Renji Panicker on the sets of 'Kaaval', directed by Nithin

Renji Panicker (left) and Nithin Renji Panicker on the sets of ‘Kaaval’, directed by Nithin | Photo credit: Special arrangement

He makes no secret that he was hugely inspired by his father’s testosterone-focused films where male characters dominated the story and the on-screen space.

Agree that Kaaval is a movie along those lines, it says that when there’s a superstar in mind, the story follows their path. “It’s a natural progression and the film becomes a male-centric theme. Tomorrow if I worked with Manju chechi (Manju Warrier), the film would have a female-centric theme. The script and the cast are extremely important to the storytelling of a movie.

A photo from 'Kaaval', directed by Nithin Renji Panicker

A photo from ‘Kaaval’, directed by Nithin Renji Panicker | Photo credit: Special arrangement

Shot in Kattappana, Idukki, by award-winning national cinematographer Nikhil S Praveen, the cast includes Muthumani, Pauly Valsan, Suresh Krishna, Shanker Ramakrishnan, Sreejith Ravi and Evan Anil, among others.

In 2016, Kasaba, Nithin’s first work with Mammootty, had sparked controversy over some dialogue and scenes in the film that were criticized as misogynistic. Dismissing the allegations, Nithin says the controversy that erupted was never a strain while writing the screenplay for his second film because he didn’t feel the criticism against it. Kasaba was justified.

While debates are ongoing over obscene language and swear words in a recently released OTT movie, the use of swear words in Renji’s previous films had sparked similar discussions. “All the films have been censored and screened in theaters. I feel like what we see in the media on a daily basis is not as bloody as what is shown on screens in India. People have the option of not seeing a movie in theaters.

Suresh Gopi in 'Kaaval'

“In the case of the OTT, there is no censorship. Thus, it can be problematic for families to watch such films together. But then, isn’t it true that there are people like these characters who use secular language as part of their daily life?

As Kaaval released in theaters, Nithin moves on to his third film, which he says will be a romantic thriller. “A young couple from the new generation of actors will be screened there. The film should start shooting in March 2022. “

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