Malayali movie-lovers have been eagerly waiting for the release of the mega-budget multi-starrer movie 'Kayamkulam Kochunni'. The movie stars youth sensation Nivin Pauly in the lead role and superstar Mohanlal in a cameo. Sanjay, one of the script writers of the movie, gets candid to Onmanorama about the movie and the social media comments on it.
Nivin Pauly, the hero
Sanjay noted that Kayamkulam Kochunni of the legends was not just an action hero, but also a commoner who had great benevolence towards the downtrodden. “It was only later in his life that he becomes a thief. We had to show him as a simple person and also portray his significant transformation as a feared thief. We roped in Nivin Pauly to play the role as we believed he could do 100% justice to the character. This character has two shades and Nivin has switched between the two seamlessly. There is absolutely no doubt that he did an amazing job,” the screenwriter lauded the young actor.
Praising the commitment of the actor, Sanjay said Nivin was not someone who would abandon the movie immediately after the filming or the dubbing gets over. “Nivin is concerned about every aspect of the movie, even now. He allotted 160 days for the filming of 'Kayamkulam Kochunni'. It indeed is a big thing for a star like Nivin to spare so many days for a film. Even now he finds time for the movie,” Sanjay revealed.
Pakki, the scene-stealer
“I really cannot say whether Kochunni would win the hearts of the audience or Ithikkara Pakki. Pakki is an amazing character, but the movie is about Kayamkulam Kochunni. When an actor of Mohanlal’s calibre makes an appearance in the film, it is only natural that he becomes the centre of attraction. In fact it was Nivin who was thrilled the most to know that Mohanlal would be playing the role of Ithikkara Pakki,” Sanjay noted.
Mohanlal on board
Sanjay also revealed that they had no idea who would play the role of Pakki, when they finished writing the script. “Though we had considered Mohanlal, we never imagined he would actually do it. We began the filming without zeroing in on an actor for that role. Meanwhile director Rosshan Andrrews spoke to Mohanlal about this character, and he readily agreed to do it. Mohanlal came on board only because he had great trust in Rosshan,” the scriptwriter said.
Kochunni and Pakki
Legends say Ithikkara and Kayamkulam were nearby places, and Kochunni and Pakki were good-hearted thieves. Sanjay narrates Pakki as a predecessor of Kochunni who robbed the homes of the rich and distributed wealth among the poor. “Ithikkara Pakki appears in the movie from the imagination that they may have met each other,” Sanjay reasoned.
Sanjay remarked that 'Kayamkulam Kochunni' cannot be called a historical movie, instead it could be termed a fictional representation of history. “More than a real historical person, Kochunni is revered as the hero of a legend. The character called Kayamkulam Kochunni appears in the 'Aithihyamala' written by Kottarathil Sankunni.
There lived a person by the name of Kayamkulam Kochunni. There are very few documents available which mentions about the person or his deeds. However, as script writers we have taken the freedom to develop such a character,” Sanjay explained.
The screenwriter also admitted that they have tried to investigate the transition of Kochunni from a commoner, to a thief and finally acquiring a God-like image. “It was Fr. Bobby Jose, a friend of ours, who told us about a temple dedicated to Kayamkumal Kochunni. If he is revered as a divine being, then he definitely wouldn’t have been a petty thief. We indeed were curious to know more about Kayamkulam Kochunni, a Muslim, in whose name a temple has been built. We came to know that devotees throng the temple to offers prayers to Kochunni,” Sanjay recalled.
Interestingly, Sanjay was inspired to pen the movie by the old Amar Chitra Katha book which had excited him as a child. In other words, he didn’t decide to make the movie on the spur of the moment.
“We really liked this character and dreamed to do a movie about him since the time we made our entry into the movies. But we never approached the idea with the seriousness it deserved. In the meantime, we had unexpectedly shared it with film makr Rosshan Andrrews as well. We realised that Rosshan too had read a lot about Kochunni. So it wasn’t difficult for us to conceive the idea and develop it. Everything fell into place when a production giant like Gokulam Movies agreed to produce the movie. It was only after that we actually began writing the screenplay,” Sanjay narrated.
Sanjay admitted that he noticed the trolls on social media which features Nivin Pauly and Mohanlal. The scriptwriter said it is Nivin who enjoys these trolls the most, and they all would have a good laugh sharing the trolls. He confesses that he is often curious to see what the trollers would have found each time.
The movie which was slated as an Onam release, however, was postponed due to the floods that ravaged most part of Kerala. “We thought it wouldn’t be appropriate to release the movie when our state was going through a great disaster. That was not the right time to release any film. We had to extend our support to those who got affected by the floods. So we postponed the release date,” Sanjay clarified.
The movie has four songs in it, and one song is already a chartbuster. Sanjay said the rest of the songs are in sync with the narrative of the movie. “The songs in the movie are not just for the sake of it. It in fact plays a major role in taking the narrative forward. We have used a folk song too. It is from a book written by one of our friends, Dr. Aju,” Sanjay said.
This is not the first time that the screen-writing duo Bobby–Sanjay has prepared the script for a big budget movie. They have written the script for the 2012 movie 'Casanovva' which starred Mohanlal in the lead role. Sanjay says that though the movie did not fare well at the box office, it was made on a huge canvas with an overwhelming budget then. He, however, added that it was indeed for the first time that they had penned a movie which combined history and the age-old legends.
“Even if we are asked to do 'Kayamkulam Kochunni' once again, we wouldn’t change a bit of it. We have really worked hard for this movie. I assure that 'Kayamkulam Kochunni' is a movie which would be loved by the people. I hope that the Malayali audience would appreciate our movie,” Sanjay signed off.