For the past few days, Priyadarshan has been busy with the editing works of his upcoming film Oppam at his studio in Chennai. Oppam has him teaming up with his best buddy Mohanlal after a small gap. Completing the day’s work by 8 pm on June 25, the director managed to find a few minutes to open up about his new flick, which will mark the 30th year of the first Priyan-Lal megahit - Thalavattom.
“Yes it has been 30 years since Thalavattom was released. More than that, June 25 was the 20th anniversary of Kalapani,” he says. He has penned the screenplay for Oppam after a long gap, “Though I used to write screenplays during the initial days of my career, after I became busy in Bollywood, I did not get enough time to dedicate for scripting. I guess, Chandralekha was the last Mohanlal-starrer for which I penned the script,” he says.
“Kilukkam is turning 25 this year and Minnaram was shot around 22 years ago. And all these movies — Thalavattom, Kilukkam, Minnaram, Chitram and Mithunam — were shot in Ooty, our lucky location. All those movies were super hits too. Once again we shot in Ooty with Lal for Oppam,” he said hopefully. Priyan shares an incident on the sets of Oppam for which his son Siddharth was assisting him during his vacation.
“Amidst the shoot, we reached a place named School Manth, where we had shot the song Ponveene in Thalavattom. To cherish our memory, we played the song on YouTube. When Sidharth saw this, he said, ‘Amma looks likes a young girl’. Suddenly, we thought of making such a shot for Oppam with same lens and track in front of the same tree. The only difference was that instead of Lissy, it was Baby Meenakshi who shared the screen with Lal. In fact, Lal was the one who wanted to shoot it.”
During the shoot in Ooty, Priyadarshan and Lal couldn’t help missing their dearest Jagathy Sreekumar sets. “In all our films shot in Ooty, Jagathy had essayed pivotal roles. It is for the first time we were shooting here without Jagathy chettan,” he remembers.
When it comes to Oppam, he says, no one can accuse this film of being a remake or a copy. “I have tried almost all genres with my 92 to 93 films in last 35 years. That includes romantic, comedy and period films. But Oppam will be my first crime-thriller. Though it is a thriller, you can see quite a few humorous scenes too. This script is written from a single-line story I heard from a young writer Govindan. The screenplay is its backbone. Oppam is the most challenging screenplay that I have written till date. I have applied the entire lessons I learnt from my career for this screenplay. More than that, you need good skills to give a visual form to that screenplay. Oppam is a fresh piece of creativity. I can bravely say that you have not seen this type of film earlier and I can proudly say that budding film makers can use this as a reference material,” he says.
The director doesn’t hide his irritation over the negative comments on social media. “When we released the first look poster of Oppam with a still of Lal’s character as a visually-challenged person with white cane, many pointed out that he wore a watch, claiming that a blind man never wears a wrist watch. There are many who doesn’t know that there is a special watch for the blind,” says the director, who had deactivated his Facebook profile for around five-six months.
“I have seen many people misusing Facebook profiles. The main reason which prompted me to keep aloof from Facebook was that I came to notice some negative comments against our former president Abdul Kalam when he left us. It was really hurtful for me,” says Priyadarshan, adding that the same people are out there in the cyber world to peep into the life of others.
“Many rumours are doing the rounds in connection with me and Lissy. Those articles were published without consulting with either of us. A few days back, Lissy had come up with a clarification. It was after reading these articles that I came to realise that there are many people who are more interested in our lives than we are,” he sums up.