Maharani director Marthandan: My films should be paisa vasool for the audience
The director shares what to expect from his latest directorial, which is set for release this Friday
Much before the digital revolution and technological advancements—which made cinema more accessible for the commoner—it was a norm for filmmaking aspirants to assist seniors and learn the craft from them. Director G Marthandan belongs to this 'old' school of filmmakers who toiled their way up. Before making his directorial debut in 2013 with the Mammootty-starrer Daivathinte Swantham Cleetus, he worked as an assistant for 18 long years under various filmmakers. Chotta Mumbai, Annan Thambi, 2 Harihar Nagar, Pranchiyettan & the Saint, and Best Actor are some of the successful crowd-pleasers in which he was part of the direction team. Naturally, when he turned independent, the objective was always to make widely appealing entertainers. "I belong to that section of the audience who seek entertainment in films. So, as a filmmaker, my primary goal is to entertain the viewers. My films should be paisa vasool for them," asserts Marthandan.
Five years after the release of his last film, Johny Johny Yes Appa, the director is coming back with yet another entertainer—Maharani, starring Shine Tom Chacko and Roshan Mathew. Marthandan clarifies that the long gap was not planned. "I'm someone who never wanted to do films back-to-back. Ideally, I would love to take time off and wait for the right subject. But still, this five-year break was not a deliberate one. It was the pandemic that spoiled our plans. Of the five years, almost three years were eaten up by Covid alone," sighs the filmmaker.
Maharani has Roshan Mathew and Shine Tom Chacko playing brothers. Keen to get the casting right, Marthandan was willing to wait for their dates, which was another reason for the delay. But he feels it was worth the wait as the two struck an excellent rapport, which was reflected in their performances. "Both were brilliant. Shine, especially, has done a kind of role that he hasn't done before. He was aware of the criticisms about his dialogue delivery and worked hard on it. Before the dubbing, he spoke to me about it and wanted proper guidance. That's the sign of a good actor." Besides the two, the film has an elaborate supporting cast, which includes many veterans. "We might not have big stars, but I would still like to call it a mini Twenty 20. Senior actors like Harisree Ashokan, Johny Antony, and Jaffer Idukki have given their career-best performances."
Maharani sees Marthandan collaborating with writer Ratheesh Ravi for the first time. While Ratheesh's last two films, Ishq and Adi, had a strongly political flavour, Maharani, Marthandan maintains, is essentially an entertainer. "It has a serious subject at the core, but we've treated it in a light-hearted manner. The issue dealt with is inspired by real-life incidents, which has happened to many, including me, but I've approached it with a tinge of humour. Ratheesh might differ, but for me, it's a fun entertainer to be enjoyed in theatres," says the director, while stressing the importance of theatre experience. "This project was initiated even before the onset of the pandemic, and if I wanted, I could've shot it during that time and released it on some streaming platform. But I felt this is a film that needs community viewing. It's not just a KGF or RRR that demands theatre experience, films like Maharani also need to be enjoyed from the big screen. The success of films like Jan. E. Man and Jaya Jaya Jaya Jaya Hey is an inspiration."
Coming back to doing entertainers, Marthandan feels comedy is the best bet irrespective of the times we live in. At a time when thrillers are aplenty, the director believes that a fun film like Maharani will be a much-needed relief. "If you observe closely, accomplished filmmakers like Priyan sir, Shafi sir, Raffi-Mecartin... they all delivered their biggest hits with comedy. The thing with comedy films is, if people like it, they'll pass on the word. Well, who doesn't love a good laugh?"