The filmmaker talks about his new release and the post-pandemic scenario in the film industry
Jis Joy’s films ride high on the feel-good factor. His new film, Mohan Kumar Fans, is not an exception, says the director. “We want people to leave theatres with a smile. The year has been tough for all of us and it’s time to loosen up,” says Jis. The movie, starring Kunchacko Boban and Siddique in pivotal roles, releases in theatres on March 19.
Jis has written the screenplay and dialogues, like his three previous films [Bicycle Thieves, Sunday Holiday and Vijay Superum Pournamiyum]. “I always take stories written by a third person. The highlight this time is that I got celebrated scriptwriter duo of Bobby and Sanjay on board. When I told them that I would like to direct their script one day, they were not in a position to give me one. But they agreed to give me a story and that’s how this film happened. It felt good to have them supervising the script, dialogues and other departments,” he says.
Mohan Kumar Fans moves through the Malayalam film industry as it narrates the journey of a forgotten actor, Mohan Kumar [Siddique]. “Although we are aware of the sweeping changes in cinema over the years, not many films have explored the subject. Of the lot, Thirakkatha and Udayananu Tharam are my favourites. So I was excited to take up the theme again. Here we look at how Malayalam cinema has evolved, the dominance of superstars and other aspects in a light-hearted manner. There is situational comedy and a sarcastic take on the whole scenario. At the same time, we don’t intend to hurt or insult anybody,” he says.
It is Jis’s first project with Kunchacko Boban, who plays Krishnanunni, a wannabe singer and a fan of Siddique’s character. Anarkali Nazar, a Kochi-based model, makes her début in the film.
Jis has also brought in an ensemble cast that has Mukesh, Sreenivasan, TG Ravi, KPAC Lalitha, Alencier, Ramesh Pisharody, Vinay Forrt, Saiju Kurup, Basil Joseph…. “Vinay Forrt will be a revelation as he has handled comedy like never before. He is Aghosh Menon, a superstar, who doesn’t know how to deal with his stardom,” Jis adds.
Music is by Prince George and all the seven songs in the film have been written by Jis. In fact, Jis has been the lyricist in all his films. “I entered the film industry to become a lyricist because I felt direction was out of bounds for me,” he adds. Among the singers in the film are KS Chitra, Benny Dayal, Vijay Yesudas, Sweta Mohan, Vineeth Sreenivasan, Rimi Tomy, Kollam Abhijith and Sharon Joseph.
Talking about the positive vibes in his movies, Jis says that when he started filmmaking he was clear about establishing his identity. “I enjoyed watching a mash-up video that showed what would have been the climax of Drishyam if I had directed it. Georgekutty would have confessed the crime and went to jail! That means the audience associate a certain character with my movies and I am happy about it,” he explains.
Even as he hopes to work with big stars one day, Jis admits that he is pleased with how things have panned out so far for him. “Although my projects have been made on a small scale, the last two have been sleeper hits. At the same time when Vijay Superum… was ready for release we didn’t even get a proper release centre,” he says.
Mohan Kumar Fans is among the many Malayalam movies that had its release pushed by a year because of the lockdown. “It would be foolish to expect a sleeper hit or blockbuster in the present scenario. The industry is still struggling. With several films lined up for release, there aren’t enough pre-release promotions happening. Also, instead of going to theatres, audience is willing to wait for a few days and watch the movie on an OTT platform or television. The release of The Priest created an excitement and we can’t expect the same for all movies. However, we didn’t want to wait for another six months,” he says.
Meanwhile, Jis is starting his next project after Easter. The story is by Bobby-Sanjay and in the cast are Asif Ali, Anthony Varghese and Nimisha Sajayan.