Parvathy was our first and only choice for Uyare, says debutant director Manu Ashokan

Sreedhar Pillai

May 16, 2019 12:26:04 IST

Debutant director Manu Ashokan’s Uyare, which is based on an acid attack survivor, brilliantly portrayed by actress Parvathy Thiruvothu, has turned out to be the Malayalam film of the year. It’s a film on gender-based violence, and is not only getting rave reviews but is also a box office hit. Uyare (meaning High) has grossed around Rs 13 Cr worldwide in two weeks, big numbers for a female-oriented film in Mollywood.

In an exclusive interview with Firstpost, director Manu Ashokan, a former associate of late director Rajesh Pillai (Traffic fame) talks about Uyare:

Parvathy was our first and only choice for Uyare, says debutant director Manu Ashokan

Parvathy in a still from Uyare. YouTube screengrab

When you started working on Uyare did you feel that it would get this kind of mass acceptance ?

Right from the beginning, we were confident that the film will appeal to all sections of the audiences. Just because the central character is that of a woman, an acid attack survivor, it does not mean that the film caters only to women. The film is already profitable from its theatricals alone in two weeks, which proves my point that it has been appreciated by the masses.

How did you zero in on Bobby Sanjay’s script and the choice to cast Parvathy?

I was assisting the late Rajesh Pillai and I got introduced to writers Bobby and Sanjay, the duo who had penned the critically-acclaimed script of Traffic. As an assistant director, I used to talk them a lot about cinema and script writing. After Rajesh sir passed away, when I decided to do my own film, they told me that they have an unusual story. The subject of Uyare was interesting and topical. When we were discussing the theme of the film, we found that most of the acid attacks took place in North India and it was a rare happening in Kerala. But over the last one year, there has been an alarming increase in such attacks and murders, and I feel it is an indication of the malaise in our society. Bobby and Sanjay agreed to write it as a script. Later we pitched the story to Parvathy (her debut film Notebook was scripted by Bobby and Sanjay), and as soon as she heard the story, she said that she is going to play Pallavi Raveendran .

At that time Parvathy was facing a lot of issues as she was one of the people behind WCC, and there was lot of controversy around it. Still you went for Parvathy as your lead artist. Any particular reason?

Parvathy was our first and only choice, and everybody including the producers was firm on it. Uyare was solidly backed by a new production house S-Cube, run by three sisters – Shenuga, Shegna and Sherga, daughters of veteran producer PV Gangadharan of Grihalakshmi Productions. All of us were unanimous that Parvathy will play the female lead and she lived the role. Parvathy had to use a prosthetic make-up to play the acid survivor role, which was almost 70 percent of the two hour film. It was not easy as she had to do make-up four hours prior to the shoot during which she could not eat or speak.

How did you convince Asif Ali and also managed to rope in a star like Tovino Thomas to do a small role?

When I narrated the story to Asif, known for his humour-laced hero roles, he was shocked initially. All his friends told him not to do the role of the acid attacker, but he agreed to do it and was simply fantastic. It brought out the actor in him. Tovino, the busiest star in Malayalam cinema, adjusted his dates and did the film because the character he played was similar to his real life.

What's next for you?

I’m still soaking it in and will take time to work out my next film which will be most likely based on Bobby and Sanjay's script

Updated Date: May 16, 2019 12:26:04 IST

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