‘I have lost several years as a filmmaker’: Vinayan

As the sequel to ‘Akashaganga’ releases today, Vinayan talks about revisiting the story, his tussles with the film industry and a new project with Mohanlal

Director Vinayan has had a reputation of being a rebel for long. From being at the helm of an organisation comprising technicians in the Malayalam film industry, he became persona non grata on account of certain issues and power struggles within the industry almost a decade ago. Since then, as a filmmaker, it has been a lonely battle for him.

His movies, mainly targeted at the masses, have earned success at the box office. But Vinayan believes that his films such as Vasanthiyum Lakshmiyum Pinne Njaanum, Karumadikkuttan and Athbhuthadweepu didn’t get the recognition that was due in spite of their commercial success. Now he is back in action with Akashaganga 2, the sequel to his 1999-hit, Akashaganga, which reaches theatres today. In an interview with Friday Review, he talks about the sequel, his forthcoming project with Mohanlal and why his already-announced Nangeli is getting delayed. Edited excerpts:

Your memories of Akashaganga…

Back then, not many were convinced about the prospects of a ghost story, that too with a yakshi in a white sari (laughs). I had to bankroll it on my own when the producer backed out. But it was a bigger success than I had expected and, for me, it was crucial in gaining some financial stability at that time.

What made you think about a sequel?

I had plans to make a sequel long ago. But when I made Vellinakshtram, it got postponed as I didn’t want to repeat the genre. Akashaganga ended with the news that Maya (the character played by Divya Unni) was pregnant. Akashaganga 2 is a continuation of that story. Maya’s daughter is a medical student now. This is also a horror-comedy but with some emotional moments.

As you work on a sequel two decades after the original, what has been the changes in the process of filmmaking?

Developments in technology have made things easier for filmmakers in terms of aspects such as sound and graphics.

For instance, actor Mayuri, whose role is crucial to the story, appears in the sequel too, though, unfortunately, she is no more.

Veena Nair, Vishnu Vinay, Sreenath Bhasi and Vishnu Govind in a still from ‘Akashaganga 2’

Veena Nair, Vishnu Vinay, Sreenath Bhasi and Vishnu Govind in a still from ‘Akashaganga 2’  
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Special arrangement

There is considerable excitement regarding your project with Mohanlal…

There has always been stories about a rift between us after I made Superstar with a Mohanlal look-alike. But, the fact is that I had discussed a project with him, while I was shooting En Mana Vaanil [Tamil remake of Oomappenninu Uriyadappayyan] in 2002. I am excited about teaming up with him and it could happen next year or the year after.

I have suggested the idea of a historical film based on the character of Ravana. But nothing has been finalised as yet.

Was your last release, Chalakkudikkaran Changathi, based on the life of late Kalabhavan Mani, more of an emotional trip?

Of course. I had always maintained a warm relationship with Kalabhavan Mani. He was one of the few who was willing to work with me even when I was facing a virtual ban from the industry. I made Chalakkudikkaran Changathi as a tribute to him. The movie has portions from my own life as well.

Do you feel that being a rebel has affected your career as a filmmaker?

Absolutely. I was among the highest paid filmmakers when the issues happened. I have lost several years as a filmmaker. I have gone through tremendous stress. If I were willing to compromise, things would have been different for me. But I am proud that I didn’t do it and, instead, chose to stick to my convictions.

Have you missed out on critical acclaim and awards?

Many directors who are into hardcore commercial movies, have made offbeat projects in between to earn awards and recognitions. I have never attempted to do that. I feel that my decision to stay away from any kind of lobbying has also stood in the way of getting awards.

You have announced a project based on the life of Nangeli.

The story of Nangeli, who cut off her breasts as a mark of protest against feudalism, is relevant even today. I had announced the project with that in mind. But the reactions were shocking as many thought the subject was sensitive. That forced me to put it aside for a while. The script is ready and I will make it for sure. I am also working on another project with Jayasurya in the lead.

You have completed three decades as a director. How do you look back at your journey?

I was working in the Kerala State Electricity Board when I decided to quit and enter the the world of movies.

My career as a filmmaker has evidently been an eventful one (smiles). It was not easy to fight all on my own for what I believed in. But it is a matter of pride for me to say that cinema has given me everything in life.

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