‘Everyone brought out the best in each other’
Filmmaker Jose Sebastian on making his debut film Ente Ummante Peru starring Tovino Thomas and Urvashi
Jose Sebastian is more excited than nervous about the release of his directorial debut Ente Ummante Peru this Friday. The film, which he co-wrote with his friend Sarath R Nath, explores a mother-son bond and features Tovino Thomas and Urvasi in the principal roles. Jose calls his film a light-hearted one, suitable for all age groups. Produced by Anto Joseph and CR Salim, the film has been cleared by the censors with a clean ‘U’.
Jose got his filmmaking lessons at the International Film School, Sydney, Australia. “The years I spent there provided me with an illuminating and enriching experience,” he says. Jose and the film’s director of photography, Jordi Plannel Closa, studied at the same place. A Spaniard, Jordi is already an established cinematographer in Mexico. “He is someone very dear to me. He used to be my senior. I got to learn about different kinds of cinema, filmmaking styles and philosophies from him and all the students I met there.”
The decision to co-write the script with Sarath R Nath was quite accidental, he says. “I already had a clear story in mind but at the same time I thought it would be a good idea to bring a second writer so that we can see things from a different perspective. Sarath is someone of a similar wavelength: he has a very positive vibe; he can be complimentary and also be critical at the time. As we were bouncing ideas off each other, our thoughts were always in sync. That’s the kind of person you want on your team, right? Bringing him on board really elevated the script, I must add. It was a lot of fun.”
Jose and Sarath also took inputs from the technicians and others who worked on the film. He says this helped the film a lot. “Isn’t it a good idea to do that? By doing so, we were able to explore a lot of options. We also gleaned insights from our family members because, at the end of the day, it’s they who are going to watch the film from the audience’s point of view. You know something is working when you get their seal of approval,” observes Jose.
For the role of Hameed, Jose only had Tovino in mind. “We wanted someone who can perfectly embody the simplicity of an ordinary guy: someone who fits in and can be very convincing and relatable. I couldn’t picture anyone else in the role.”
The film was shot in the Malabar region, with scheduling split between the Thalassery, Kozhikode and Ponnani areas. “These locations felt very organic to me and came to me as I was conceiving the story. Setting the story and its characters against the backdrop of Malabar made more sense given the area’s history, dialect, etc. Everything blended really well,” he says.
As Jose had the advantage of working with a very co-operative and open-minded cast, he felt completely at ease. In addition to Tovino, Urvasi, and Saipriya (who plays the female lead), Ente Ummante Peru also stars Hareesh Kanaran, Mamukoya, Siddique and Dileesh Pothan. “Despite some of them being seasoned actors with decades of experience behind them, they were always open to new suggestions and ideas. They didn’t see you as a newcomer. It was so comfortable on the sets. Everyone brought out the best in each other. I got to learn a lot from all of them, and it’s surely going to reflect in my next work.”