Basil Joseph: The emotions in Minnal Murali are universal
The director, along with leading man Tovino Thomas, spoke to Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival chairperson Priyanka Chopra Jonas and artistic director Smriti Kiran in a video interaction
While audiences wait anticipatedly for the premiere of Minnal Murali on December 24 on Netflix, a surprise announcement was made by Priyanka Chopra Jonas. Malayalam's first superhero movie will have a big-screen premiere at the upcoming Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival on December 16.
The announcement was part of an interaction Priyanka -- the current chairperson of the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival -- had with director Basil Joseph, lead star Tovino Thomas, and the festival's artistic director Smriti Kiran.
When Priyanka expressed her admiration for the big-budget entertainer (produced by Sophia Paul) and asked Basil about the impetus behind making a superhero movie set in a village, Basil said it was the urge to see a "grounded" superhero relatable for all.
"We are all fans of the Western superhero movies and the mythological heroes from our own culture, but we never had a grounded hero so far," began the actor-filmmaker, who made his directorial debut with 2015's Kunjiramayanam. "That was tricky -- to make something with universal emotions and an empathetic hero and villain... We wanted to incorporate all those little moments that we go through in our daily life -- like throwing a stone at a mango or kicking the tiffin box (as seen in the trailer) -- all that make up a genuine movie. The superhero element was simply the X factor. We didn't make one for the genre's sake. If you take out all the superhero elements, it would be a good movie as it is."
While concurring with Basil's statement, Tovino recalled getting excited when he heard the one-line and even more when he read the first draft. "I was amazed, not only at his talent but also his efforts and amount of research that he did. He even did online scriptwriting courses to craft an interesting narrative structure. There were attempts to make a superhero movie from Kerala but not of this scale. Basil and I are great friends, and I'm grateful he chose me for this."
Tovino added that he feels fortunate to be living in a time when the Malayalam film industry is getting attention from all corners. "I'm so overwhelmed and grateful for a platform like Netflix handling the worldwide distribution of a film like this and ensuring that it gets maximum exposure," said Tovino, who previously worked with Basil in the latter's second feature, Godha.
Basil and Tovino are hopeful about Minnal Murali reaching many eyeballs considering the "universal" genre. "It's not a 'Malayalam' movie," said Basil. "Though the hero is wearing a dhoti or lungi, the emotions are beyond borders. The language is not a barrier here. Minnal Murali can go anywhere."