The green car caught fire that day. Don’t you know the green car, Nirmal Sahadev asks. He is talking about the car in the teaser which came out months ago. In the scene, Prithviraj waits in a car that’s playing the old Malayalam song 'Vachalam', watching someone leave a house. The music changes when he steps out of the car with a stick in his hand and heads towards the house.
Ranam – Detroit Crossing, Prithvi’s new movie. Nirmal’s first, as a director. “Yes, that green car,” Nirmal continues his story. “It caught fire one day during the shooting. Prithvi was inside, Isha Talwar – playing the female lead – was inside. I was also in there.”
What would you do if you were inside a car and it caught fire, Nirmal asks. “You would be scared, right?” But not Prithviraj. He calmly called for backup and said the car had caught fire and he was going to park it.
Nirmal laughs as he talks about it now. But the laugh is brief. There are voices behind him as he speaks. He has to rush, he has to run. The movie is coming out on Thursday in Kerala and on Friday everywhere else, and there is a lot to take care of.
The story is his, the screenplay too. It is an emotional crime drama, but at the core of it, you will find a love story, and it’s about second chances. That’s as much a one-liner as you can hope to get out of Nirmal. To explain, he quotes a few lines from a song in the film - ‘Pathiye’. “Towards the end of the song, he sings, ‘I knew I should have walked away from her, I knew she was my second chance’.”
The film’s name – Detroit Crossing – is not just about the crossing in the US – where most of the movie was shot - but people being at crossroads, life at second chances, Nirmal adds vaguely. He may be a first time director but he sure knows how films work, and that’s not by telling too much about it before it’s out.
“I have always been in films. I did my engineering, but then I came to movies,” Nirmal says, summarising his past in simple words, like there is no need to elaborate. You are in cinema because you love it.
He took the first step like most aspiring young directors and became an AD, assisting the likes of Shyamaprasad (Ivide) and Abi Varghese (Monsoon Mangoes). He met Nivin and Prithvi at the time of Ivide. Telling Prithvi about the idea of Ranam didn’t take long. Prithvi liked it.
Nirmal came back with a script. Prithvi still liked it and got on board.
“There was a lot of molding over the last two years since he came on board,” says Nirmal. And in that time Prithvi has become like a brother. “It’s great to work with him.”
Nirmal also found it great to work with Rahman and Isha. Rahman was supposed to do another role in the film but he later became ‘Damodar’. There is even a little clip on YouTube by the title ‘Damodar’s law of survival’. All the actors, says the young director, have brought in their flavour to the characters. He had felt no difficulties as a first-timer. But you can’t entirely call him a first-timer. After all, Nirmal also wrote the script and dialogues for Shyamaprasad’s Hey Jude.