A Malayali who dreams in Arabic

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | VANDANA MOHANDAS
Published Nov 24, 2018, 12:00 am IST
Updated Nov 24, 2018, 12:07 am IST
Sudheer Konderi has just achieved a great feat – first Malayali to direct a full-length feature film in Arabic.
Sudheer Konderi
 Sudheer Konderi

During his childhood, Sudheer Konderi was a dreamer. He would spend hours recreating in his mind the stories he had read, the characters’ faces, mannerisms and dialogues, adding a bit of fantasy to it. Years later, he realises that those were all hints. Sudheer says, “I was destined to be a filmmaker.” Must be true. His directorial debut 11 Days is all set to release creating history — a full-length feature film in Arabic directed by a Malayali!

Excitement brimming in his voice, Sudheer reveals, “In fact, it’s the first full-length Arabic feature film made by an Indian national in GCC.” 

 

A Thrissur native, Sudheer’s story is as exciting as an inspirational movie. He was just out of college when his mother approached their neighbour asking for help to take him to ‘Gulf’, the land of hope for hundreds of Keralites. The neighbour agreed and took him along when he returned. “That’s how I reached Abu Dhabi, 20 years ago,” says Sudheer, letting out the twist in the story. “My neighbour who brought me here is M.A. Yusuffali, chairman of Lulu Group.” 

He joined Lulu as an accountant and now, is the media manager of the firm and an ad filmmaker with over 100 projects to his credit. With his career boosting, Sudheer realised that he had a lot more to learn about filmmaking and joined the New York Film Academy from where he graduated as a more confident and professionally trained filmmaker. “I found time for my passion during weekends and vacations. I have taken utmost care to ensure that my love for films doesn’t affect my profession,” says the 40-year-old, who, for the past two years, has been directing National Day videos for the GCC countries, receiving much appreciation.

The encouraging responses prompted him to come up with an Arabic film. “Not just that. There are other reasons, too,” says Sudheer. “There are no proper independent films made here. People in GCC watch TV series and dramas. My idea was to offer them a feature film viewing culture other than family dramas.” 
11 Days is a road movie that depicts the warmth of relationships and explores the Arab culture, as a family accompanied by a lost filmmaker travels from Dubai to Bangkok. For Sudheer, the film is his tribute to the land which taught him a lot. “Arab culture is so rich and magnificent. The people here are very generous and strongly uphold their cultural values and religious principles. I have been fortunate enough to experience their benevolence and passion towards a cause,” he says.     

The film, starring Dr. Habib Ghaloom, Ahmed Al Hashmi, Mohammad Al Alawi, Ali Khetbi and Imen Tablusi, has many big names from Mollywood on board. Apart from Kerala state-award-winning sound designer Renganath Ravee, editor Vivek Harshan and sound engineer Justin Jose, 11 Days has Sushin Shyam handling the background score and the songs are composed by Kailas Menon with Arab musician Saif bin Fadel.

The scripting was done by Sudheer himself. “I wrote it in English and got help from the National Media Council here and my actors to translate certain parts into Arabic. It took me two years’ effort to complete the shooting and post-production works and I am happy that finally, my dream is all set to be fruitful,” says Sudheer, who lives in Abu Dhabi with his mother Padmini, wife Nimi and children Sanjana and Manav. 

In connection with the 100th birth anniversary of UAE’s Father of the Nation Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan next month, the film will be released in theatres all over GCC, including Saudi Arabia where the 35-year-old cinema ban was lifted in April.

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