'Luca explores the nature of relationships'
...says scriptwriter Mridul George, who is making his debut with Tovino Thomas’ Luca, which is co-written and directed by Arun Bose
In April of last year, Tovino Thomas introduced his fans to a book called Pathimurinjha Ticketukal on his Facebook page. Penned by writer Mridul George, it was a collection of fan-fiction stories featuring some of Malayalam cinema’s iconic characters. So naturally, Mridul’s progression to a screenwriter doesn’t come as a surprise. His debut film, Luca, starring Tovino, is scheduled for release next month.
A software engineer by profession, Mridul wrote the script jointly with its director, Arun Bose, also a debutant. Arun was Mridul’s senior in school, and their script was a result of five years’ work. However, the genesis of the idea happened in Arun’s mind. “It came to him while he was taking a stroll on Chennai’s Marina beach. And because I have this habit of imagining backstories, I found a way to expand that thought,” says Mridul.
It was in 2014 that Mridul and Arun pitched the story to Tovino, before the release of his films Oru Mexican Aparatha and Ennu Ninte Moideen, and just after the release of 7th Day. Since Tovino and the writers were relatively new at the time, it took a while for them to get the required backing. However, things started picking up after the release of Oru Mexican Aparatha and Godha.
“We knew that Tovino would become a star,” says Mridul. “When we sketched the character, we couldn’t picture anyone else other than Tovino. He responded really well to our script and was actively involved in each new development of the scripting process.”
Given the fact that it took some years to get a production company and also the fact that Tovino had turned into a busy actor in the last five years, the writers had plenty of time to fine-tune the script. Mridul is of the opinion that it’s better to take enough time if one wants to write a satisfying, intelligent script. “We have to keep in mind that the audience has become smarter than us. We can’t underestimate them,” adds Mridul, who learned about screenwriting from Arun and a circle of friends who were into filmmaking.
Since Mridul and Arun knew each other for a long time, communicating ideas openly was not an issue. “Arun is more visual whereas I’m more verbal. So there is a nice balance. It won’t be helpful if both are visual or verbal. We have two different ways of watching a film. We can’t cut out the problematic areas in a script unless there are two contrasting personalities.”
According to Mridul, Luca is about romance and relationships, which also carries thriller elements due to the presence of an investigative story. “There is an intense love story at its core, but it also explores relationships that aren’t necessarily romantic. We see how some relationships are formed, and at the same time, we also see how a couple drift apart and how they come together in different circumstances. These two separate relationships run parallelly and we have used a different narrative tool to tell such a story. What binds them all is the investigation aspect.”
Speaking about the characters, Mridul describes Tovino’s Luca as a celebrated artist with a carefree attitude. “He is also a bit of a rebel and an activist. He has all the traits that artists normally have. He is also relatable because, at his core, he is fragile and weak.” The film’s second male lead is Nithin George, playing a police officer.
Njan Steve Lopez-fame Ahaana Krishna and Ottamuri Velicham-fame Vinitha Koshy play the main female leads. Ahaana is paired opposite Tovino and Vinitha opposite Nithin. “The women in the film are as important as the men. They are not bystanders. They don’t just show up and leave. There are several strong moments in the film which belong to them.”
As both Mridul and Arun are married, the interactions with their better halves helped lend the script a layer of authenticity that wasn’t there initially. “Both our wives have read the script, and so we were able to bring out the female point-of-view. We wanted to make sure the couples’ interactions did not look forced or out of place. Everything had to look exactly the way a real-life couple interacts.”
Mridul calls himself an emotional person whose stories are often marked by a sense of melancholy. “Sometimes the small, silly stuff can get me emotional. Arun is that way too. But the advantage of that is it helps us strengthen the emotional aspects of the script. The success of a script of this nature depends on your ability to connect with the audience emotionally. As our characters behave in a certain way, we can’t give our personality traits to theirs.”
When asked whether social media has influenced his writing at some point, Mridul says, “One can learn about the various nuances of cinema while browsing through social media. You also get an idea about the audience’s perspective on certain films. When we were working on the script, we joked about the possibilities of various theories or trolls showing up after our film comes out (laughs).”