June 17 was a special day for Kerala. The Kochi Metro, the state's first, was inaugurated by PM Modi. The metro has already won the hearts of the people for several reasons, ranging from its decision to employ more women and transgender people to its commitment to the environment.
And now, there's a film coming up around it! Starring Rima Kallingal, the project is about a woman named PK Lathika whose ambition it is to meet Metro Man E Sreedharan.
Speaking to The News Minute, an excited Rima says, "This is a story about PK Lathika, the character I'm playing. She's a huge E Sreedharan fan and her life is completely affected by this metro coming to Kochi. I can't tell you how...but then she has to meet him and it is very, very difficult to meet somebody like that. But what transpires and what happens when she meets him makes the story. The movie kind of chronicles the arrival of the metro from the start."
Rima points out that the Metro has affected people's lives in various ways - good and bad - and that the film's writer, Suresh Babu, came up with the idea of capturing this historic project and its impact from the perspective of an obscure character like Lathika.
"We've been in talks about the project for the last 2-3 months," says Rima.
But does E Sreedharan know about the film? Rima laughs.
"I don't know! I'm actually hoping we can cast him in the film...it would be interesting to see him on screen because he's a real hero. As of now, we haven't spoken to him about it. But if not, we'll get a big star to play the character," she says.
The CBFC rules currently state that filmmakers have to get an NOC (No Objection Certificate) from the concerned people if their work depicts real life characters or events. Rima, however, doesn't think this should be an issue since the film shows E Sreedharan in a very positive light and it's unlikely that he'd have problems with it. She adds that the team will certainly get his approval and show him the script before they proceed with it.
Rima is someone who has been vocal about women's rights - on screen and off it. She asserts that the upcoming film, too, would be a completely woman-centric film.
"It's very difficult to change society's perception overnight. But yes, slowly, steadily, I want to pick up roles that showcase such issues. Lathika is an ordinary person. She uses public transport to commute every day to work. That itself leads to so many stories! There's also a personal struggle that she has to face...I don't want to reveal too much about the story though!" Rima says with a wide smile.
Rima points out that women's stories are hardly ever told - what we see are the stories of mothers, lovers, wives, sisters, and daughters. The woman as an individual is not someone we see on screen often. "This film will hopefully break that," says Rima.
While there have been films that have shown ordinary people wanting to meet movie stars, whether it's a Guddi or Kadha Parayumbol, there have been barely any which have portrayed a person like E Sreedharan as an icon that someone's dying to meet.
Rima, a self-confessed fan of the Metro Man, agrees. "Yes, we do want to talk about real heroes. Just look at his track record! Good god, there's so much that we can learn from him. I hope it gives a message to kids out there that there are people like this whom they can emulate. Let's celebrate the real heroes."
Asked about the Women's Collective, an organisation formed by women actors, filmmakers, technicians and others from the Malayalam industry, Rima says that there is a lot of positive energy and enthusiasm around it.
"The reception has been superb and it clearly looks like we can get a lot of work done here and there is a lot to be done! We're all working back to back and in between all this, getting together itself is a huge task. But we're all charged up to do something," she shares.
Following their meeting with CM Pinarayi Vijayan, the Collective plans to get together once again to register the Collective and open it up for membership.
To be directed by M Padmakumar, the work for Arabikadalinte Rani: The Metro Woman has taken off on the same day that the Kochi Metro was inaugurated.