'Kurup', a film that tells the story of real-life fugitive Sukumara Kurup, has Dulquer Salmaan playing the lead character.

Dulquer Salman stands behind a woman and has his arms around her as she is sitting in front a mirror wearing a Sari. Both their reflection can be seen on the mirror on a dressing table in a dim lit roomStill from 'Kurup' / Courtesy - Srinath Rajendran
Flix Interview Tuesday, November 09, 2021 - 13:00

Four days before his film is to release, director Srinath Rajendran is just recovering from an untimely fever, coughing as he tries to talk. He was never keen to talk about his films before they came out but it's something he learnt to do in the past nine years. “Quite a painful experience,” in his words. The film releasing on Friday, November 12, Kurup, has been no different. That Dulquer Salmaan, the actor Srinath introduced in his very first film — Second Show — is playing the real-life character of Sukumara Kurup brought a whole lot of premature attention to the film, before it even got complete. In nine years, Dulquer has become a star. And a star playing a real life criminal — Kurup's infamous killing of another man to stage his own death is a much-discussed crime story — has stirred interest in Kerala. 

"I hate to talk about the films I make, I'd rather let the films do the talking," Srinath tells TNM. He does not give a date or time of when new story ideas form in his head. Kurup, for instance, is a story that has been 'in the atmosphere' from the time he was born. 

"I wanted to do a film in the mystery genre. I like to do every film in a different genre. So you will find my second film in an entirely different genre than my first. For the third film, I wanted mystery and what story can tell a mystery better than Kurup's?" Srinath asks.


Srinath Rajendran

A huge amount of research work went into the writing of the film. Jithin, who earlier worked as Srinath's assistant, wrote the basic story structure. Aravind KS and Daniell Sayooj Nair worked it into a script. "It took years for them to do the research, meeting a number of people and going through a lot of difficult situations. Once they put it into a script format we gave it to Vini Viswa Lal, who joined us as creative director. We let him chop off or add or edit all that he thought was unnecessary. There was, of course, a lot of debate for every cut. It is the work of five to six years," Srinath says.

But he considers it a wrong question when you ask if the work began many years ago. "Because every film I make will come from all my experiences in life from my birth to the point of making the film. For Second Show, whatever I put in the film came from my 25 years of life. For the second film, it was 28 years of life experience that came into the picture. Now, for Kurup, whatever my age is, all of it would reflect in the film I made."

Earlier this year, the family of Chacko — the man Kurup murders — sent a legal notice to Srinath and Dulquer, worried over how Kurup would be portrayed in the film. In an interview to TNM, Chacko's son Jithin spoke of their earlier fears of Sukumara Kurup's character being glorified when it is played by a star like Dulquer. However, once he saw the movie, he was convinced there was no such risk.

Watch: Trailer of Kurup

"There has been criticism of the film even before it was released. I can understand the concern of the people, who are not even airing these opinions for their own sake, but because they are afraid of how it will hurt some others. I can say that we never wanted to hurt anyone with the film. Of course if you celebrate Kurup, the man, it is a problem. I have a very clear perspective of how the film should be presented as a filmmaker and I am sure the audience will have their own perspectives," Srinath says.

He understands the concern raised by the family of Chacko and others about a star like Dulquer playing a character like Kurup. Will Kurup be made to look like a hero has been the question on everyone's mind. "I cast Dulquer because I felt he was the perfect person to do this role. How his image works for the film is not a matter of my concern. It is definitely an experiment, putting him into the robes of a dubious character like Kurup. I can only say there will be no glorification of the character," Srinath says. 

He brushes off rumours of changing the climax of the film after criticism rose against it. He concedes filmmaking is an evolving process but the climax has not been changed and it is the original script that was made. 

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