He is one of the leading production designers in India with close to 150 films to his credit. Coming from a family of renowned filmmakers (Grandfather P. N. Menon and uncle Bharathan) in Malayalam cinema, award-winning Ashok Koralath aka Ashok Kumar is now set for his directorial debut with his forthcoming romantic entertainer, Mouname Ishtam.
The film, starring Ram Karthik and Parvathy Arun in the lead roles, is a teenage poetic love story. “Mouname Ishtam deals with the consequences faced by young lovers from diverse backgrounds," explains Ashok, adding, “The audience will appreciate the film for its novel theme and interesting characterisations.” Having spent more than three decades in the film industry, Ashok reveals that he had to display great endurance to make his dream of wielding the megaphone come true.
“I had approached several filmmakers with the script, but I couldn’t get their approval due to contrasting perceptions over creative matters. I wondered why the going has been getting tough for me despite all my experience as a production designer. At one point, I even considered relinquishing the idea. But my passion for filmmaking kept me going, and I eventually decided to bankroll my directorial debut,” he shares.
Ashok’s finesse reflects in his ability to create massive sets that transport the audience to different time zones. Known for his iconic set works, films like Indra, Okkadu, Anji, Bobbili Raja, Yamadonga, Arundhathi, etc., have won several awards. No wonder that stars like Chiranjeevi, Prabhas, Mahesh Babu, Nagarjuna, etc., are perpetually in awe of his work.
However, he admits that a filmmaker’s job is far more challenging. “A production designer’s job is only to visualise and execute the director’s vision. But a filmmaker has to look into the details of all the crafts and it is challenging. Now that I am experiencing it first hand, I understand better,” he smiles.
Ashok reveals that he was always interested in arts from his childhood.
Recalling his route to showbiz, Ashok says, “I’ve grown up watching my grandfather’s films and I've always wanted to emulate his filmography. My uncle Bharathan too would appreciate my drawings. Then I got an opportunity as a poster designer for a film. After doing a fair amount of work in other languages, I bagged my first Telugu film Bobbili Raja (1989) as an Art director. I haven’t looked back ever since,” shares Ashok, who studied Visual Communication from Madras college of Arts.