The origin of The Gambler
Director Tom Emmatty says his second directorial, starring Anson Paul, is not a conventional, VFX-heavy superhero film
Tom Emmatty is busy with the final touches of what is said to be Malayalam’s first superhero film, The Gambler. From his description, the film is not a conventional VFX-heavy spectacle but rather something stemming from a more grounded, personal idea.
In the film, which Tom calls a “family-friendly entertainer”, Anson Paul plays the father of a six-year-old boy. Anson’s alter-ego is called IO Man. “There is a significant portion of the film where Anson’s character is separated from his wife, and the film’s primary focus then becomes his bond with his son. It’s the family’s journey that the film revolves around,” says Tom, who cast Anson given his capability to convey the personality of a common family man.
The superhero stuff in the film, Tom explains, happens in the young boy’s dream sequences. “What we have incorporated in the boy’s dreams are certain elements from his real world. The son has a learning difficulty — he can’t comprehend some English words — and since he loves playing cards, Anson develops a card game in real life. So, in his son’s dreams, his father appears as a superhero who can do things with these cards.”
Tom based the idea on himself and his attempts to teach his six-year-old son English alphabets. The ‘IO’ comes from the two English vowels. Tom went with this idea as he felt audiences would find it more relatable. “Our film takes place in post-flood Kerala. The characters go through some changes before and after the floods. The hero himself goes through a severe emotional crisis.”
When asked if the dreams in the film are the young boy’s way of dealing with a certain incident, Tom says, “We don’t go that deep into it. He just happens to have a vivid imagination, and since anything is possible in a dream, we have tried out certain things accordingly — within our budgetary limitations, of course. As doing a subject like this on a larger scale might require a bigger budget, we have tried to give viewers a small taste of the sort of influential visuals we loved in Hollywood superhero movies.”
Prior to making his directorial debut with Tovino Thomas’ Oru Mexican Aparatha, Tom had been a physics teacher for five years before he got bored and turned his attention towards filmmaking. If everything works out as planned, the director might expand the world of The Gambler, adding elements and themes which he couldn’t explore through this film. A video game has been concurrently developed. However, the ideas in the game, Tom says, are completely different from those in the film. The game, developed with the help of an American company, will be available for download on both Android and iOS platforms.
The Gambler will introduce a newcomer, Dayyana Hameed, as the female lead. Salim Kumar, Innocent, and ‘Ballatha Pahayan’ Vinod Narayan are also part of the film.
The team is hoping to release the film this Friday. They are currently awaiting the nod from the Censors before making the official confirmation. The official trailer was released by Dulquer Salmaan on his Facebook page yesterday.