Ishq- Not a Love Story that will be releasing state-wide on May 17 will mark the debut of Anuraj Manohar in the director's hat. The 30-year-old, who left his job in Cochin Shipyard eight years ago, is calm and confident as the D-Day inches closer.
“When we hear the word Ishq, one naturally assumes it to be a straightforward love story. But the movie deals with the intricacies and complexities involved in a relationship. Even when in love, as time goes by, various nefarious factors come into play and lead to that one moment when two egos come face to face. So, though it is about love, it’s not about what you would call pure love. Hence the tagline Not a Love Story,” says Anuraj.
The movie has Shane Nigam and Ann Sheethal in lead roles. Script is by Ratheesh Ravi.
“I met Ratheesh on the sets of Mammootty-starrer Pullikkaran Stara. He had the story ready and we decided to do the movie. As per initial plans, Fahadh Faasil would play the lead role and also produce it. But that failed to materialise. Then, we met Shane and rest just happened," he says.
The movie has got the backing of a major production company, E4 Entertainment. Anuraj also thinks that the experience of cinematographer Anarsha, who has also worked as an associate to Rajiv Rai, would add to the acclaim of the movie.
“Ishq has been made with a specific objective. It is an expertly conceived thriller that everyone, from teens to mature adults, will be able to relate to. It deals with the emotional issues that's part of everyone's day-to-day life.”
Malayalam film industry has come a long way in the past decade. It now enjoys lucrative markets both nationally and abroad. Is there a chance that the industry will eventually turn into a superstar-driven one and would swallow the space of smaller, content-driven movies as a whole?
“No. Big-budget superstar-driven movies need to be there. But content-driven movies would flourish in parallel just the same. The successes of Sudani from Nigeria and Kumbalangi Nights among others prove that. There is enough space for everyone.”
For Anuraj, eight years' wait was well worth it, but for a very different reason. “Sure, I needed to learn the technical aspects
of filmmaking. But more than that, one should gather the ability to deal with politics within the set. You conceive a shot in your mind and you are all prepared to take it. But when you reach the location there would be many challenges involving the crew.
To be able to guide them, get them to work as a team and ensure the output you desire is a tough challenge. To be able to do that, is the most important thing I learned in these eight years.”
Ishq was shot exclusively at night in a schedule that lasted 29 days. It was challenging but well worth it. The teaser of the film trended at No.1 spot nationwide for the first three days after release. “The movie has come out good and exactly the way we desired. On my mind, Ishq is already a success."
Being a youngster himself, Anuraj does not want to advise or caution those wishing to make a mark in the industry. “If you have the
conviction and are willing to work hard enough, anyone can do it. But one should not be too egoistical or go solely after big names.
The important thing is to form a bond with the right sort of people and frame a clear vision on what it is that
you are trying to achieve.
If you do that, then sky is the limit,” says Anuraj.
What brought Anuraj to movie industry was his passion for films. He had come second in a scriptwriting contest while in college. He never missed the movies that hit the theatres every successive Friday. With Ishq, he hopes to inspire others like him to come forward and live their dream.
Anuraj is an alumnus of Kannur Engineering College in Mechanical Engineering and lives in Kochi with his wife Shyamili Shashidharan, sub-editor of a leading Malayalam news channel.