'Radikaa Sarathkumar’s casting proved very beneficial to us'
...says filmmaker Girish Panicker Mattada, whose debut Malayalam film The Gambinos, has the veteran actor playing the matriarch of a crime family
Sydney-based filmmaker Girish Panicker Mattada will be soon coming out with his debut attempt titled The Gambinos. A student of Los Angeles' New York Film Academy and New Zealand's SAE Film School, Girish has assisted director Vinayan on as many as eight films. He has also worked on several ads and short films.
The Gambinos, Girish says, is about a crime family based in the Malabar region. "It does not adhere to the typical action-crime formula that Malayali audiences are used to. The focus is more on the emotional and personal struggles of the crime family and the illegal operations carried out by them than the violence," he explains.
Radikaa Sarathkumar plays the matriarch of the crime family with two generations succeeding her. The filmmaker says he was compelled to cast her after seeing her performance in the Dileep-starrer Ramaleela. "Her character Mamma is a mother of four sons, and Radikaa's casting proved very beneficial to us. She is also very disciplined. Though she is most active in Tamil cinema, she readily accepted our offer because she liked her character and the story. In fact, she liked the story so much that she agreed to do it for half her usual remuneration." Vishnu Vinay, Sijoy Varghese, Sampath Raj, Salu K George, Sreejith Ravi, Musthafa and Neeraja form the rest of the cast.
A lot of research and homework has gone into the film, Girish tells us. "Two months before the shoot, I sat down with the actors for extensive discussions — everything from their look to the costumes was carefully planned. Once the shoot began, it was quite easy because I was working with a great team. All I needed to do was tell them the situations and they would do the rest. Occasionally, they would give me some cool suggestions."
The film's title is a reference to one of the biggest crime families in the world, and Girish says he picked the name because the crime family depicted in his film is similar to them. "Based in New York, the Gambino crime family was known for being vengeful and leaving no traces of the crimes they have committed. Because of their similar behaviour, the crime family in our film are nicknamed the 'Gambinos' of Malabar by the police department," he explains.
When asked if any classic crime films influenced him, Girish tells us he is a big fan of the films of Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino. "I've seen Scorsese's Goodfellas and Casino so many times. I find the crime/gangster genre very appealing. In Malayalam, Samrajyam and Big B are two favourites. In Hindi, I'm a fan of Ram Gopal Varma's films. So naturally, when I thought of making my debut, I wanted to make a film that was different from the usual 'a story of five friends' — something that gave equal importance to style and substance."
Sakkir Madathil has penned the script. Elban Krishna is handling the camera, while composer Jakes Bejoy (Ranam) is putting together the music and background score. Editing is by Shafique Mohammed Ali, costumes by Jomon Joseph, and art by Nathan Mannur. The Gambinos comes out under the banner of Kangaroo Broadcasting, an Australian film company.