Rudhiram: Raj B Shetty's Malayalam debut is a revenge drama
Aparna Balamurali is the female lead in the multi-lingual release
Kannada film buffs in Kerala were hit with a surprise on Tuesday when Raj B Shetty announced that he was making his Malayalam debut with Rudhiram, co-starring Aparna Balamurali.
Debutant Jisho Lon Antony will direct from his own story, with screenplay credits shared by him and Joseph Kiran George. Sharing the title poster of the film, which goes on floors in 2023, Raj wrote: "The Axe forgets, but the Tree remembers."
Speaking to Cinema Express, Jisho describes the film as a "revenge drama, which bears the qualities of a survival drama in the initial stage, before shifting gears."
The filmmaker, who has dabbled in commercials and marketing, adds that Rudhiram is a "performance-heavy" project that "demands performers like Raj and Aparna Balamurali with equal footing." "When I wrote this with co-writer Kiran, many faces came to our mind, from Tamil and Malayalam, but since we are already familiar with this kind of work from them, we felt the wow factor would be missing. But Raj is someone that Malayalis are not too familiar with but also regard him with much respect, given the warm reception to his films like Ondu Motteya Kathe, Garuda Gamana Vrishabha Vahana, or 777 Charlie -- three films with different flavours. Moreover, he is a director and writer, and we thoughts we would feel very confident with a genuine personality like him in our corner."
As for whether Raj's character is a Malayali or Kannadiga, Jisho is not at liberty to divulge at the moment. He also thinks it's irrelevant. "After COVID, in the OTT age, we have noticed language barriers disappearing, considering people got to see films across all languages, be it from here or abroad. Besides, Rudhiram is a film with more emphasis on visuals."
The team aims for an early 2023 shoot, possibly by January. "We are figuring out the dates, as Raj is currently in the middle of his next directorial, which should wrap up soon," says Jisho.
The team is also yet to finalise the other cast members. As of now, Raj and Aparna are the confirmed names in Rudhiram.
Sajad Kaakku, who shot Maniyarayile Ashokan, is the director of photography; Bavan Sreekumar (Aanum Pennum) will handle the editing. Midhun Mukundan (Rorschach) is on board as the music composer. The makers plan to release Rudhiram in Malayalam, Kannada, Tamil, and Telugu.