Mollywood
The director also told TNM that Rima, Revathy and Tovino would play nurse Lini, Health Minister KK Shailaja and Kozhikode District Collector UV Jose respectively.

The names fill two rows. Ten of them, all big ones in Malayalam cinema. But then the film’s title intrigues more. Virus, it says.  

Could it be Nipah, speculated many on Facebook as soon as Aashiq Abu’s new film poster came out. “Yes, it is,” the director confirms, speaking to TNM. “It is all real-life stories in the film, the stories that came with the epidemic.” 

He too had panicked, he says, at the time the Nipah virus broke out in Kerala.

“Thinking what was going to happen now, and how serious the epidemic we were facing is. But we also heard many stories behind the virus – heroic stories. More heroic than the ones you see in cinema,” Aashiq says.  

The big cast, too, comes for that reason. There are many tales to tell.  

Revathy, Asif Ali, Rima Kallingal, Tovino Thomas, Parvathy Thiruvoth, Kalidas Jayaram, Remya Nambeeshan, Soubin Shahir, Dileesh Pothan, Chemban Vinod - that’s the order of the names that come in the poster. 

“It was important that prominent actors should be there to fill the canvas,” Aashiq says. Only three roles have been fixed so far. Rima Kallingal will play Lini, the nurse who died of the virus after serving at the hospital where the first of the infected people were admitted. Revathy will play the Kerala State Health Minister, KK Shailaja, and Tovino will portray the Kozhikode District Collector, UV Jose.

“It is going to be multilayered stories of different communities – the doctors, the patients, the cleaners and so on. But it would all happen in one time and one place,” the director says. It is also not an anthology.  

Three scriptwriters are working on the film – Muhsin Parari, who directed the film KL 10 Patthu, Sharfu and Suhas, who wrote the script for Amal Neerad’s new film Varathan. The team has spoken to doctors and other officials, and learned of the experiences of the Nipah-affected before writing the screenplay. 

Only the first draft of the script is complete now, and the film is just taking shape, Aashiq says. The shooting should begin by December this year and the film is likely to release in the summer of 2019.