The actor-producer talks about ‘Saajan Bakery Since 1962’, the movie’s release during the pandemic and more
Actor Aju Varghese has worked steadily in Malayalam cinema for the past 10 years. In addition to acting, he also ventured into production and distribution. His upcoming movie, Saajan Bakery since 1962, in which he plays a dual role, sees him double as co-writer and producer.
“You leave the theater with a smile. It’s a light-hearted story about clinging to relationships, something we all went through during the lockdown, ”says Aju. The film, directed by Arun Chandu, will be released on February 12.
The movie centers on Shamel Mappila, who runs a bakery named after his son Saajan. However, the latter has no interest in executing it. Aju Varghese plays Saajan and his son Bobin, who carries all of his father’s “bad qualities”. “I was made to play Saajan at the last minute. We had some budget constraints and when the director suggested I do it, I decided to give it a try. Although the character only comes in three or four scenes, I loved doing it. It was an opportunity for me to push myself as an artist ”, says the actor.
However, it’s the three female characters – Saajan’s wife Mary (Grace Antony), their daughter Betsy (Lena), and Bobin’s romantic interest Merin (Ranjitha Menon) – that stand out, Aju adds. While Saajan makes Mary’s life difficult, Bobin does the same for Betsy. We’ve also tried to show how society has a list of dos and don’ts for women on the pretext of protecting them. But such actions only suffocate them, ”he says.
The film, Aju says, is close to his heart as it takes place in Pathanamthitta, where he grew up. “I know the terrain and [Arun] Chandu. We have several fond memories of places like Ranni, Thiruvalla and Chengannur. The language, culture, food, lifestyle, houses… are part of us. In fact, many things fell into place. For example, we found a bakery and a medical lab next door, as we had written in the script. We tried to show the real essence of Ranni and different parts of Pathanamthitta, ”says Aju.
As for writing the story with the director and Sachin R Chandran, Aju adds that he was fulfilling a dream. “I was more of an apprentice!” he says. While lockdown had pushed back the film’s release by several months, he believes the delay had its advantages. “We were able to spend more time on post-production work, which has helped the film as a whole,” he says, complimenting composer Prashant Pillai, editor Aravind Manmadhan and cinematographer Guru Prasad MG. “Prashant was patient enough to listen and answer my crazy questions about music and even make some changes,” he laughs.
The film is the second production venture of Funtastic Films, led by Aju, Dhyan Sreenivasan and Visakh Subramaniam, the first being Love Action DramaThe company has also distributed Love Action Drama, Helen and Gauthamante Radham“I had no intention of becoming a producer. Now I’m relatively relaxed because nothing can beat the challenges we faced while creating Love Action DramaHe says.
“We wanted to release this film [Saajan Bakery Since 1962] in theaters and have not yet signed a deal with OTT platforms. Given the circumstances, we would be happy with whatever the film collects. Even if it runs for two weeks, it would be a risk worth taking, ”he adds. Funtastic’s next production is Prakashan Parakkatte, starring Dhyan Sreenivasan, en 9 mm, Manju Warrier’s 50th Movie.
Meanwhile, Aju has his hands full with ready-to-release films and new projects. The list contains Hridayam, Minnal Murali, Oru Tatwika Avalokanam, Tsunami, Meppadiyan, Home, Sara’s, Ullasam and Article 21“Enthusiasts have told me time and time again to read scripts before signing a movie because I rarely do. I admit that I haven’t played any character-driven roles and never looked at the movie as a whole. It was only my character that mattered, that was mainly a supporting role. But I think it is time to choose roles carefully, ”he says.
The actor has no qualms about admitting that he is always looking forward to working on projects of his friends in the industry. “I prefer that comfort zone, where I have no inhibition or fear,” he said.