Soumya Sadandan: Mangalyam Thanthunanena is a family satire
The documentary director talks about her foray into the feature film space and her debut film, Mangalyam Thanthunanena
Documentary filmmaker Soumya (Sou) Sadanandan, who was honoured at the 64th National Film Awards for her documentary Chembai - My Discovery of a Legend, is making her feature film debut with Mangalyam Thanthunanena, starring Kunchacko Boban and Nimisha Sajayan as a married couple. She has previously worked as an assistant director on films such as Jawan of Vellimala, Idavappathi, and Olapeepi, and directed a short film called Rabbit Hole, in addition to an online series called Ashanum Ashathiyum.
Produced by United Global Media Entertainment, Mangalyam Thanthunanena also features Hareesh Kanaran, Vijayaraghavan, Alencier Ley, Shantikrishna, Kochupreman, Gayatri Suresh and Leona Lishoy in supporting roles. "It's a small subject, a family satire reminiscent of the old Balachandra Menon films," says Sou. "It's about a middle-class family. 70 per cent of the people we see around us belong to the middle-class. So I think most of the audiences will be able to identify with the characters, their circumstances and interactions. The attempt is to narrate a simple story in a simple manner, and do it well. It's a Herculean task; not that easy."
The director is thankful to her producers for trusting newcomers like her and Tony Madathil (scriptwriter), and identifying the scope of the material they had. When asked if doing a small-scale film is less risky, she says, "There is a risk associated with every film, small or big. We are accountable to every penny that's being spent. So it's not a question of how much a film costs because cinema is cinema, regardless of its budget. Be it one crore or three, it's a big sum for whoever is spending it. Every film (and every filmmaker) treads the same path. And, obviously, the people investing in it expect a return."
On the transition from documentaries to feature films, she says, "The documentaries and short films I made were my own productions. So even though there were financial constraints, we managed to finish it somehow. But when someone else is financing, you are accountable to them. Everything I did before this was relatively less expensive, and despite getting no returns, it was a learning experience. They provided me with opportunities to hone my skills and evaluate myself. It gave me the answers to some questions I was asking myself."