The Hindu

Happy days are here

Malayalam director Ganesh Raj has hopes for his upcoming ‘excursion film’ titled Aanandam

- NITA SATHYENDRA­N

Ganesh Raj is one happy camper. The young director’s getting a “dream debut” in Mollywood with Aanandam. A happy-go-lucky road movie, starring a bunch of newbie 18 and 19-year-olds, the film finally reaches theatres today, after its breezy trailer, catchy songs and promo videos sent anticipati­on into overdrive. Actor-singer-filmmaker Vineeth Sreenivasa­n makes his debut as a producer with the film.

Ganesh, an engineerin­g graduate, gained a foothold in the industry as an assistant director in Vineeth’s films, beginning with Thattathin Marayathu. He has also worked with Anjali Menon on Bangalore Days . “Growing up, I was never a film or even television buff. In college, I made a short film – The Rumour – and not a very good one at that, but it did pique my interest in the process of filmmaking. Then, I made another one, Where Do You Live, which got positive feedback at college-level film fêtes and I decided that filmmaking was what I wanted to do in life. I got the calling in 2011. Vineeth ettan saw something in my films and he invited me to be a part of his journey in cinema. He’s since become my guru, mentor-in-chief, bro...,” says Ganesh.

In fact, it was while working on Thattathin..., back in 2012, that Ganesh says he got the “spark” for Aanandam [in between he shot the popular short film Oru Kutty Chodyam, starring Aju Varghese]. “I happened to watch Take Me Home Tonight , a rom-com about how a couple falls in love overnight. That got me thinking on how a lot of things can happen within a short time-frame. It took me back to my engineerin­g college days, and all the fun we had. I thought the time was ripe for a story set in an engineerin­g college,” says the 27-year-old.

It was also high time for an ‘excursion’ film, once a popular genre in Malayalam cinema but not seen on screen much these days. “Like Thattathin... re-introduced rom-coms to Malayalam cinema and Traffic, to thrillers, I hope Aanandam brings back the genre,” he says.

Aanandam travels with a bunch of engineerin­g students as they go on an industrial visit (IV) to Mysore and Goa [and a couple of tourist hotspots enroute]; a journey which takes place over four eventful days. “IVs, as all engineerin­g students know, are a pretext to travel. Usually, the IV is done and dusted in a couple of hours and college authoritie­s turn a blind eye as the students take the long route back to college via stopovers at various tourist destinatio­ns. In Aanandam , we’ve tried to be true to life and the IV lasts all of 15 seconds as is shown in the song ‘Dooreyo’,” he says. “Travelling really opens up your mind; you get to be yourself, far away from prying eyes and it’s exactly like that for the kids in the film,” he adds.

Vishak Nair, Anu Antony, Thomas Matthew, Arun Kurian, Siddhi Mahajankat­ti, Roshan Mathew and Anarkali Marikar are the newbie stars of the film. “The very premise of the film demanded young actors. I went to colleges in Kerala and Bangalore to conduct spot auditions,” he says, adding that he’s also thoroughly impressed by the young actors in the film. “Three of them have acting experience. They’ve each got a good head on their shoulders and have a much broader world view than those in my generation.”

Anend C. Chandran, who debuted with Premam, handles the camera, while music is by Ganesh’s FISAT college-mate, singer Sachin Warrier. The movie has been produced under Vineeth’s banner Habit Of Life and Vinod Shornur’s banner Cast N Crew.

Travelling really opens up your mind; you get to be yourself, far away from prying eyes and it’s exactly like that for the kids in the film

 ??  ?? A still from Aanandam ; (below) Ganesh Raj
A still from Aanandam ; (below) Ganesh Raj
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