"We had first approached Fahadh Faasil for Shane Nigam's role in Ishq"
Debutant Anuraj Manohar on picking Ishq as his first directorial which features Shane Nigam, Ann Sheetal, Shine Tom Chacko and Leona Lishoy in lead roles
Before deciding to direct a film of his own — the upcoming Shane Nigam film Ishq — Anuraj Manohar has been working in the film industry for eight years, assisting directors like Lijo Jose Pellissery, B Unnikrishnan, and Shyamdhar. Though he had pursued mechanical engineering in college, he soon realised he was not cut out for any profession other than filmmaking.
He tells us he found Ishq to be an ideal project to start with because it has the kind of story he would like to see as a filmgoer or reader. “I’m most interested in making films with a realistic vibe. Ishq is much very connected to real life, with a strong central conflict.”
Anuraj first heard about the script when he was working in Shyamdhar’s Pullikaran Stara, which was written by Ratheesh Ravi, also the writer of Ishq. Elaborating further on why he was drawn to the film's subject matter, Anuraj says, “It is about issues that I felt needed to be addressed today. I listened to the story three years back and found it to be a very fresh idea. Since then a couple of films in Malayalam cinema have touched upon these issues through a commercial framework, but none of them explored those in depth. I believed that there was still a space for a socially committed story like this today.”
When asked if Shane’s character in the film is different from his earlier roles, Anuraj says, “It’s not a perpetually brooding character. The film offers him space to exhibit various emotions. It opens and ends with Shane’s character. His character has turned out really well." The makers had first approached Fahadh and later Tovino for the same role but scheduling issues got in the way. "What was written for Fahadh is the same for Shane as well,” adds Anuraj.
Shine Tom Chacko is also playing an integral character in the film. “It’s sort of an unpredictable character. Once the film is over, you might wonder if he is a positive or negative character. He is also present throughout the film. We cast Shine because we wanted someone who looks like an ordinary guy with a family. If it were someone else, the audiences might go in with preconceptions and easily guess what he is about to next, which wouldn’t work in the film’s favor. After seeing Shine’s performance, I was relieved about casting him. Shine told me that he had been looking for such a character for a long time.”
Backed by E4 Entertainment, Ishq also stars Ann Sheetal, Leona Lishoy and Jaffer Idukki. The film has been shot by Ansarsha and edited by Vivek Harshan. The music is by Jakes Bejoy.