As the video begins, we see a teenage girl excitedly and longingly observing a dance class. Soon, we are transported to her fantasised world where she relishes various shades of adolescence accompanied by Nangiarkoothu, a dance form practised by women. The 5.39-minute video Kaumaaram, set against the backdrop of a forest, beautifully captures the essence of the age through the mediums of nature and dance.
Directed by actor Surabhi Lakshmi, the video is the second in the music series Pennaal, which features five stages of womanhood — baalyam (childhood), kaumaaram (adolescence), yauvvanam (youth), mathruthwam (motherhood) and vardhakyam (old age). The series Pennaal is concpetualised by Shyla Thomas and Dr Shani Hafees. The song Kaumaaram was launched through the social media handles of actresses Miya, Anu Sithara, Aishwarya Lakshmi, Nimisha Sajayan and Samyuktha Menon.
Singer Shreya Jayadeep has sung and acted in Baalyam that was written and directed by Shyla Thomas. Lyrics of four songs except Yauvvanam are also written by Shyla. Yauvvanam is penned by Dr Shani, who also sang Kaumaaram.
Surabhi Lakshmi says she was thrilled to do this project. Having directed more than 20 plays as part of her theatre studies, Surabhi has a penchant for the art. “I know its basics,” says the actor-turned-director. “Shyla chechi, who is like my sister, told me about the concept when I reached her home. She said she was confident in my talent. Also, the project has mostly women in it. It was an organic process. “
Shyla wanted the song to have an ambience of forest and dance. “I briefed Gayathri Suresh (music director) to include elements of forest and emotions of teenage like excitement, confusion and naughtiness in the music. She gave a beautiful treatment,” says Shyla.
“I chose dance as it could easily and clearly communicate these thoughts within a short span. However, I didn’t know which dance form to be included. At that juncture, Surabhi suggested Nangiarkoothu,” explains Shyla, to which Surabhi adds, “I have learnt about it during my theatre classes. I don’t perform Nangiarkoothu, but I am aware of its different aspects. The way nature is described in Nangiarkoothu is awesome. Hence, I chose it to depict an adolescent girl’s thoughts.”
The song is filmed in Idamalayar, Boothathankettu and Kakkayam. Surabhi says shooting the song in forests was a challenge. “We had to travel inside the forest. Thanks to my crew members for being with us and understanding the concept in its true sense,” says Surabhi. Cinematography is by Pappinu and editing, by Rizal Jainy. National award winner Ranganath Ravee has done the sound. Meenakshi plays the female lead.
“Conveying such a big thought in a limited time frame was indeed a task. Surabhi has beautifully done that. She had a good planning about it,” says Shyla, who came up with the name Pennaal.
Madhuvanthi Narayan, Chinnu Kuruvilla, Smitha Saleem, Archana Gopinath and Devi Manoj form the rest of the team Pennaal. Madhuvanthi has scored music for Yauvvanam.
Archana has done music of the gazal Thusharam, a bonus track penned by Smitha Saleem. Right now, the team is working on its upcoming videos. And, they will have women at the helm.
Ask Surabhi whether she has any other directorial plans about cinema and theatre, she says, “Acting has always been my dream. It still is. Now, all I want is to be a flexible actor. People ask me if I will direct movies. But, I have not thought in such a big canvas. I might do it at the right time. Who knows?” she chuckles.
“This experience let me realise the hard work of a director. Earlier, there were times I felt certain directors look at the work only technically, and should act in order to feel the emotions of an actor. But, after doing this, I can put myself in their shoes. Now I know I should not give pressure as an actor to a director,” smiles Surabhi who has Vikruthi, Ulta and Arakkallan Mukkakkallan in the pipeline....