Malayalam cinema

A sleepy town, pork and black humour add up to Malayalam box office sensation ‘Angamaly Diaries’

Lijo Jose Pellissery’s movie stars 86 new faces, has a strong script, and an evocative setting. The result: a hit.

Angamaly is a very small town in Kerala. The only reason anyone had heard of it until a few weeks ago was because of its proximity to the Kochi International Airport. The townspeople can bid their anonymity goodbye: the movie Angamaly Diaries, which was released on March 3, has created a box office stir and is holding strong despite competition from other releases.

Lijo Jose Pellissery’s film follows six young men and their adventures in setting up a pork business. The setting is the seventh character. Pellissery gives a palpable sense of the town’s flavour, spicing up his narrative with intricate details of the local culture, culinary habits, music, humour and dialect. Every single actor – 86 in all – is a newcomer, and already, lead actor Antony Varghese is being hailed as the latest sensation in town.

The 38-year-old director has previously directed the emotional drama Nayakan, the comic thriller Double Barrel and the musical Amen. Pellissery’s professional journey has been as unconventional as his movies. After a Master of Business Administration degree and a six-month stint as a salesman, Pellissery walked out of work one morning (at precisely 11.30 am, according to him) and bid goodbye to the tucked-in shirt and office cubicle existence. He has never regretted it, he told Scroll.in.

How did ‘Angamaly Diaries’ come about?
After Double Barrel, I worked on a few ideas that didn’t materialise. That is when I remembered an old project that my friend Chemban Vinod Jose [the script writer] had discussed with me. It was about the place Angamaly and its peculiar culture, which involved pork, wine, crime and black humour. I loved the first draft even though it was long. We edited and re-wrote the script, which was shaped into what finally came out as Angamaly Diaries.

Chemban is from Angamaly and I am from Chalakudy, which is not too far from there. Since the culture and spirit of our towns share a lot of things in common, there was an instant connection. Most of the incidents in the film are based on real events, but we added fiction to make it more entertaining. When our friend, producer Vijay Babu of Friday Film House, took an instant liking to the idea and gave us the go-ahead, the film happened for real.

Play
Angamaly Diaries (2017).

The movie has been out for over a month, and is still holding strong against big-name starrers, such as Mammotty’s ‘The Great Father.’
We are glad that the audience has accepted this film, and I hope it inspires a lot of people to come forward with their out-of-the-box ideas and bring glory to Malayalam cinema. The response we have had from around the world tells me that it all depends on how well you tell a story. When the storytelling and presentation are right, faces don’t matter.

Malayalam cinema has been not just about stars but also about a social message. Is there one in ‘Angamaly Diaries’?
Honestly, I don’t believe in giving social messages through cinema. Filmmaking is not about preaching. It’s a creative process.

Angamaly Diaries has global appeal only because it’s about a human story in a place and the realisation of the fact that it could happen anywhere in the world. That is why people connect with it. A good friend of mine said to me, “The more local, the more global.”


Your film comes at a time when the Malayalam industry faces allegations of nepotism. Star kids and relatives are being promoted and others overlooked.
You have to make sure that you cast for the script. I try to find the exact face that comes to mind when I read the script, not the other way around. Whoever fits the part – be it your neighbour, a friend or an actor – should be in the film.

Stars don’t necessarily sell a film. My last film was bigger film, and required a familiar face to bring the kind of funding the project required. It was my long-time dream to make a film with an all-new cast, but then I had to find a script and setting where I could confidently take that step. In Angamaly Diaries, the town is the protagonist. I wanted to give the audience the experience of taking an auto rickshaw ride through the fun, folly and festivity of the town.

I would love to see a lot of new talent coming to the industry. New technicians and new actors simply mean new talent, and that is how each industry grows.

Antony Varghese as Vincent Pepe. Courtesy Friday Film House.
Antony Varghese as Vincent Pepe. Courtesy Friday Film House.

Is this a great time for fresh ideas in Malayalam cinema? There was Rajeev Ravi’s ‘Kammatipaadam’, about Dalits and gangsters in a Kochi slum. There was Dileesh Pothan’s ‘Maheshinte Prathikaram’, about a man who gives up wearing footwear until he has avenged a humiliation.
Yes, some fantastic films are being made in Kerala at the moment. The Malayalam film industry saw its golden period in the 1970s and early ’80s, with such filmmakers as Padmarajan, KG George and Bharathan. Then it nose-dived. The films didn’t work for some reason. Now it’s catching up, and the future looks promising. Maheshinte Prathikaram is my personal favourite from last year.

So is there a trend towards new-generation cinema?
There is no such trend. If a thriller works, everybody starts making thrillers. There’s just good cinema and bad cinema. Sometimes, it’s good cinema, but the audience still rejects it. All you need to do is to create the cinema in which you believe. Don’t lose heart even if it doesn’t work. Just move on. You can always make it better the next time.

What would be your advice to young directors out there?
Cinema is about making what you visualised when you read the script. Be adamant about getting it right on the screen. Compromises don’t make good cinema. Filmmaking has never been so technology-friendly in the past. All you need is a great idea and a good camera phone to show the world what you can do. Gone are the days when you had to worry about costs. Make a film with your friends. If you have an idea, just go ahead.

Lijo Jose Pellissery (left).
Lijo Jose Pellissery (left).
We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content  BY 

These GIFs show you what it means to miss breakfast

That monstrous roar is your empty stomach.

Let’s take a glance at your every day morning routine. You crawl out of bed, go for a quick shower, pull out and wear your neatly ironed clothes at the speed of light and then rush out of the house, making sure you have your keys and wallet in place.

Giphy
Giphy

You walk into office, relieved because you have made it to work on time. Stifling yawns and checking emails, you wonder how your colleagues are charged up and buzzing with energy. “What is wrong with these people” you mumble to yourself.

Giphy
Giphy

Slowly, you start to change. You start snapping at colleagues and start arguing with your computer. You take out your frustration on anything or anyone in sight.

To add to the aggressive behaviour, you’ve completely lost your focus. After some time, you simply forget what you were doing.

Giphy
Giphy

Unable to bear the hunger pangs, you go for a mid-morning snack. It is only when a colleague asks you for a bite do you realize that you have developed into a fully formed, hunger fueled, monster. Try not to look at yourself in the mirror.

Giphy
Giphy

If only you had spared not even twenty or ten but just 5 minutes in the morning and not skipped breakfast, your story would look completely different - as you will see in this video.

Play

The fast dip in your mood and lack of focus is because your body has missed its most important meal of the day – breakfast. Research has shown that skipping a meal, especially in the morning, worsens the mood because there is a drop in the blood sugar. This in turn affects the levels of serotonin and dopamine, the chemicals produced in the brain that control our moods and feelings. In simpler English, not having breakfast is going to make you really cranky and confused!

Morning is also when the body needs maximum nutrition to function efficiently through the day as you’ve just woken up from a full 7 hours of no food (and if you’re sleeping less than that, that’s a whole other article).

So in short, having a breakfast could make you go from looking like the earlier GIFs to this:

Giphy
Giphy

But with changing lifestyles and most people hard pressed for time, a healthy breakfast is taking the backseat. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. MTR has come up with a range of widely loved Indian delicacies like Poha, Upma and Halwa which can be made in (hold you breath) just 3 minutes! All you have to do is add hot water and wait for 3 minutes to get a delicious and filling breakfast.

Giphy
Giphy

These amazing and delicious breakfasts can be made in a jiffy and consumed with the least hassle, even in the midst of your frenetic morning routine. So grab your #MTRbreakfastin3 to start the day on an awesome note.

Click here to make breakfast a part of your morning routine.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of MTR and not by the Scroll editorial team.