Minnal Murali’s official teaser is trending on YouTube
Faster than lightning, stronger than a truck, champion of the downtrodden, that is Minnal Murali, the hero of Basil Joseph’s upcoming film, Minnal Murali. Basil’s third film, after Kunjiramayanam and Godha, will gift Malayalam cinema its first homegrown superhero, sans magic and abracadabra.
The engineer-turned director’s big-budget, multi-lingual Tovino Thomas-starrer was going on in full stream in Wayanad and sets were put up in Kalady when the lockdown came as a bolt from the blue. Shooting was stopped and impatient viewers, waiting for a festival release, had to cool their heels for the film to be completed. Nevertheless, on the day of Thiruvonam (August 31), Basil released the official teaser of the film and it began trending with more than 300K views on social media.
Released by some biggies of India cinema, the teaser gave tantalising glimpses of the powers of ‘Minnal Murali’ and also some superb shots of DOP Sameer Thahir. While the teaser in Malayalam was released by Prithviraj Sukumaran and Fahadh Faasil, Vijay Sethupathi and Keerthi Suresh released it in Tamil. Rana Daggubati did the honours for the Telugu teaser while Abhishek Bachchan and Arjun Kapoor did the same for the one in Hindi. The Kannada version was shared by Yash.
Basil Joseph and Sameer Thahir during the shooting of the Tovino Thomas-starrer Minnal Murali
| Photo Credit: Harikrishnan P
Naturally, the director sounds pleased as he speaks about the film on phone from Kochi. He says it was a dream project that he and the scriptwriters Arun Anirudhan and Justin Mathew had been working on since 2018.
“The basic idea was Arun’s and Justin joined in at a later stage for the screenplay. We wanted to take our time to make sure that the film’s plot is convincing and plausible. Viewers are way ahead of us in terms of exposure to the best in the world and they cannot be taken for granted. They will ask logical questions and be sceptical. We wanted to create a superhero that they could relate to and connect with on an emotional level,” explains Basil.
The team’s effort, says the director, was to give Minnal Murali a story that did look too far-fetched and unrealistic. He points out that unlike the West, Indian mythology and folk tales are full of super-heroes.
“Hence, our viewers will not be impressed by just someone who can perform superhuman tasks,” says Basil.
The filmmaker adds that the team was keen to avoid a VFX-heavy film or one that leaned on action sequences. “We wanted the movie to be grounded and have a strong narrative instead of a string of action sequences papered over with a flimsy story. The story has elements of fantasy but we have tried to keep the treatment and plot development realistic,” he says.
- Basil Joseph feels that hits like My Dear Kuttichathan, Sakshal Sreeman Chathunni and Athisayan were centred on the idea of a hero with super powers. However, the first had supernatural and magical powers unlike Murali’s super power.
Set in a timeless, fictitious village somewhere in Kerala, the story is about this common man who gets super powers. Tovino had been carefully building his physique for the film as it required someone muscular but not all muscled and bulky.
Minnal Murali is Basil’s second project with Tovino, after Godha. “There is a comfort level and a synergy while working with him. We communicate easily and I think there is a child in each of us. Both of us are happy-go-lucky people… there is never any issues of actor-director,” says Basil.
The teaser ends with Minnal Murali’s lightning reflexes helping him catch and set right a tiffin carrier that was knocked off a counter. “Can’t get more grounded than that, right?” Basil points out. “I did not want a muscled superman but someone we can relate to,” he says.
With another 40 days of shooting left, Basil doubts if the film can be completed with current COVID protocol restrictions in place. “The film requires crowds and people and so with the curbs on number of people who can assemble at a place, the shoot cannot be completed. The climax and some major sequences have to be shot,” he explains.
Moreover, the sets for the movie, which was assembled at Kalady, was destroyed by a group of ruffians. Basil says he would rather not talk about the incident but look ahead to the completion of the film. Thanking his producer Sophia Paul, Basil says he is lucky to have found a supportive producer who is not breathing down his neck.
“Work began in September 2019. There were a lot of risks and conflicts in working on such a film. But, as a producer, she has supported our vision and story,” he adds.
Known for his unconventional films and storylines, Basil is confident that his film will be screened in theatres.
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