Historical period dramas are often criticised for exaggerating emotions. Last year, actress Swara Bhasker had slammed Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat for “glorifying practices like Sati and Jauhar” in the movie.
For director M Padmakumar, whose film Mamangam has just hit theatres, it is mostly about sensible portrayal on screen.
Mamangam follows the story of a brave warrior (Mammootty) of Malabar and his loyal soldiers who fought in the medieval fair called Mamankam, held every 12 years between 800 AD and 1755 AD at the banks of Bharathapuzha in Kerala.
Excerpts from the interview:
Mamangam is touted as the most expensive movie produced in Malayalam. Does that add pressure?
Definitely. Because unless the film does well and becomes one of the biggest hits in Malayalam it won’t recover its cost. Since we are releasing it in multiple industries, the world is watching you. So the responsibility and the pressure is there. But one can’t bother about all that. One can only do one’s job well which I think I have.
You started your journey with Oru Vadakkan Veeragatha which also had Mammootty in lead. Now you’re doing a film as elaborate as Vadakkan Veeragatha with him. How has he changed over the years and were there any pressure to cater to his stardom?
Never ever. Not then. Not now. He is an absolutely gem of a person and actor. He understands cinema in its totality.
Historical dramas, sometimes, features customs and behaviour that are considered regressive in current scenario.
Though Mamangam deals with history, it is more relevant in today’s times. The message that one would take away is important for even the kids. Just that we haven’t spoken about it and we want the audience to see it in the theaters.
What was the biggest challenge while directing the movie?
Lot of challenges were there. The language is something which belongs to that period. So the diction was always tricky. We shot for almost 30 nights for the action. An 11 year old doing action that adults won’t dare to do. Huge responsibility and tension.
When you direct a movie, do you keep the end result in mind?
You should not regret later that you could have done this better. The end result is important and does affect you but you can’t let that affect your thoughts while shooting.
What happens when you’re not able to direct with the one vision that you have?
It definitely affects a creative person as at times you can’t communicate what you are seeing in your mind about the end product midway to someone. That frustrates you. But you have to take all stakeholders along with you too. Because it’s a teamwork. Your actors, your technicians, the producer, all have to believe in your effort, your output and your ways.
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