It has been nearly three years since a movie written by Dubai-based homeopath Dr. Iqbal Kuttippuram has arrived at the marquees. His previous film, Vikramadityan, directed by Lal Jose, was a superhit, so were his earlier oeuvre of films including Oru Indian Pranayakatha and Diamond Necklace.
In an industry carried away by star-trappings, it is not often that writers earn claps; Dr. Iqbal is one. And yet when Jomonte Suvisheshangal, now playing at theatres in the UAE, arrives, there has been a backlog of pain – personal, following his father’s demise, and professional, no thanks to social media meanness.
The tale of a father and son, “nothing new there,” admits Dr. Iqbal, is also set in the pain of a bereaved son, which makes the film’s bumper success at the box office, even more of a vindication.
After Vikramadityan, Dr. Iqbal was penning another script, which was way-sided (and is potentially set to be announced shortly) for various reasons. That is when director Sathyan Anthikadu and Dr. Iqbal came up with the one-liner for Jomonte Suvisheshangal.
Dr. Iqbal is candid enough to admit that for the film, the actors came first – and then the characters. “I have always felt that Mukesh was under-utilized as an actor. So the thought of having him in a mature role, his humour-sense intact, and pairing him with Dulquer Salman was the first thread of Jomonte Suvisheshangal,” he says.
The challenge in writing
Dr. Iqbal says writing the film was a challenge given the emotional landscapes of the two protagonists and the fact that it had to establish its own identity amidst the template of father-son tales. The rather thin one-liner made the task difficult.
“In all my earlier scripts, there had been strong story-pegs that drove the narration. So here we focused on a number of scenes, short, charming ones, and while they appear effortless on screen, getting them right on the first place was not easy,” he adds.
But what really got his going was his personal relationships with Mukesh and Dulquer – and of course Sathyan Anthikadu. “When you write for people whom you really respect and love, there is a difference; it brings out a sort of depth instantaneously.”
Working with Dulquer on Vikramadityan contributed immensely to shaping the character of Jomon. “Watching him play the common boy, we realised that he has within him the talent and drive to imbibe strong characters effortlessly.”
No doubt then that Dulquer’s presence has not only been appreciated by the critics but his star-appeal has brought in strong initials and sustained box-office tempo, despite the release of Mohanlal’s Munthirivallikal Thalirkkumbol.
The team of goodness
While the ‘goodness’ factor of Sathyan Anthikadu films is now a given, Dr. Iqbal says it is the wonderful camaraderie that he shares with him and others such as Lal Jose that inspires him. “There is an implicit trust when working with them,” says Dr. Iqbal.
The genuine goodness of the team, their non-interference in the petty bickering of the industry and their focus on making films that make audiences ‘feel-good’ is once again exemplified in Jomonte Suvisheshangal, which also stars Anupama Parameshwaran, Aishwarya Rajesh, Innocent, Muthumani and Vinu Mohan, among others.
The team worked on a bound-script, as against the current fad of spot improvisation, because Dr. Iqbal believes that ‘leaving one’s characters to the mood-swings of actors, who are rushing from one set to the other’ is not desirable.
“We create a film, its characters, scenes and dialogues painstakingly. We cannot expect actors to immediately warm up to the scene and say lines that go with the film’s emotional core.”
The story of a father with four children, the youngest being the wayward and the one who comes to the rescue when the family falls on bad times, therefore, has all it takes to touch a chord. The task before Sathyan and Dr. Iqbal was not to make it preachy.
There are common settings from Sathyan Anthikadu films in Jomonte Suvisheshangal too. Post-interval the film switches gear to Tirupur in Tamil Nadu. But Dr. Iqbal says it was he who suggested the setting, as the script demanded it.
Cuba Mukundan has retired
Dr. Iqbal, who wrote Arabikatha, based on the life of a disgruntled communist worker in Kerala, who finds new meaning in life in the Gulf, says the film will not have a sequel.
“I believe that along with the changes in the world, the party has also changed for the better. Their policies and outlook are promising, and it is not for me to criticize anyone unnecessarily.
“Cuba Mukundan was relevant at a time when the party was going through an identity crisis; and our message was not against any individual. It was against the malaises that then ran deep. To me, therefore, Cuba Mukundan has retired; let him rest.”
Over now, then to Jomon, a name that stands for the ‘beloved one, pampered one.’ And to Dr. Iqbal and Sathyan’s satisfaction, audiences are now pampering Dulquer’s take on Jomon.