One of the top Ad Film makers in the country, an Actor who has already won hearts with his subtle performances in a variety of Malayalam movies and a critically acclaimed Director, Srikant Murali opens up to ClubbyTalks about his inspiring and exciting journey.
From his inclination towards Art and cinema at a very young age to the exciting turn of events in life that lead him to working with the likes of legendary Directors, K.G George, Kaviyoor Sivaprasad and Priyadarshan, we had the opportunity to have a chat over a phone call.
If only we could lay it all out for the readers, the exciting story of his journey. However, the following Q n A has everything an aspiring Artist should read and learn.
Could you please tell us about How it all started, your journey so far ?
“ I come from a conventional family background from Kerala with a close inclination to Art forms as you could presume how it was back in the ’80s. Apart from my academics, which I was good at, I was introduced to reading and farming. I had the opportunity and the atmosphere to learn the traditional performing arts like Kathakali at a very tender age. I was the disciple of Kalamandalam C R R NAMBOOTHIRI as part of the Gurukula tradition, I stayed and learned Kathakali. “
“ I am thankful to my family and the village for having given me such an opportunity to explore different aspects of Life and Art at a time where kids my age were running around playing. However, there was nobody from the cinema world. I used to do Monoact, Mimicry, Sing for Thiruvathirakali, Kathakali, not that I was perfect but I was passionate about all of them. “
“ So, cut to my Pre-degree times, there was this movie – ‘Achuvettande Veedu‘ and the advertisement for that movie had come in Mathrubhumi paper, where different Directors were reviewing the Movie and recommending to watch the movie, that was the Marketing strategy. “
“ I happened to notice a recommendation of the Legendary Director ‘ K.G George ‘ with an address underneath the recommendation. Needless to say, I had watched a lot of his films, and I don’t know something made me write to him, I wrote: “George Sir, I would like to meet you and work with you. “
“ Astonishingly, I got a reply from him after a week saying that come down to this hotel on this date, My Brother and I, we went down to meet him, he asked me what was my real intention and I told him that I wanted to work with him. He was convinced and to my surprise, he asked me to join him, I was 16 or 17 years of age at that time. “
“ ‘ Oru Yathreyude Anthyam ‘ was the movie, a Doordarshan production. It was a great experience, Venu chettan (Venu) was handling the camera. I got to learn a lot, from field clearance, assisting the production crew to camera and light assistance. This experience was the beginning of it all.“
“ From there I thought of pursuing cinema, I worked under Director Sivaprasad Sir and eventually worked under Priyadarshan Sir and so on. “
Would you say that the right path to become a Filmmaker is by working under an Established Director like you did or one can choose any path they want, like making short films?
“ See, in every generation, there are some resources that one can make use of, that is how I like to think of it. Cinema is now at your fingertips and hence the number of aspirants has risen. You have all the knowledge and information at your fingertips, so irrespective of what your sources are, you need to be modest enough to continue learning. “
“ If you look at the journey of great directors like Priyadarshan you will understand, he was part of many movie projects without looking for any credits and focussing only on learning the craft. Back in the day, the only option I had was to somehow try and work with an established Director and learn every nuance of filmmaking. “
“ You will not believe, there was a time in my life where I quit everything, and my brother, Sudheer chettan changed my life forever. He called in a favor with M G SREEKUMAR (Renowned Musician, Composer and Singer) and got me an opportunity to work under Priyadarshan Sir, and I was told that I might not even get field clearance work in the set, as there was 8 other aspirant already working. But, I was just in shock at the fact that I was able to work for Priyadarshan Sir. It was the Hindi remake of ‘Thenmavin Kombathu‘ called ‘Saath rang ke sapne‘. “
“ Anyways, that is my story and those were those times, having said all that, if you are confident on the subject of your movie and your ability to make a movie, that is what will help you find a Producer. However, if you get the opportunity to work under an established Director, I would suggest you graciously take that offer and sharpen your skill. “
You would have heard a lot of stories, read a lot of them, watched a lot of Movies, so what aspect of a story tells you for a fact that, Yes, this could be made into a Movie ?
“ Look, it is personal isn’t it. In my life there are a lot of factors that have influenced me, it could be the stories I read or heard, the books I read, the movies I watched, etc. If you take the movie ‘ Aby ‘, the story hooked me at that particular point in my life, a story of a common boy who dreams to fly, I saw my childhood in it, I could relate to the boy. I have tried to fly as a kid, I am sure we all have at least in our dreams. “
“ I think that, it is important that you relate to the story in your way, that is you need to know the arc of the character if it is a character-driven story, and see how you can justify the story-telling cinematically. Just because the story is exciting, you cannot jump to a decision of movie making, you know. You need to ensure that you tell that story with all honesty and legitimacy. “
“So, to answer the question, this is my perspective alright. You need to relate to the story first, you should be able to understand the complete plot and that is just the start of it, you will have to find the right cast, producer and the crew, so it is a process. “
What is your take on these Social Media Reviews?
“ They are good, aren’t they? pretty much everything is subjective isn’t it. Even I am being subjective here, a good thing about these reviews is that the audience out there gets to read different perspectives about the Movie. See back in the day, a performer or an Actor was considered successful when other people started to imitate him or her. That was the yardstick back then, however no there are lot of mediums.“
But, wouldn’t these Movie reviews have a commercial impact, while it could be someone’s mere analysis of a Movie, it could incur losses to the Producer. Isn’t it so?
“ Look, these aspects are all part of the business. If a movie has all the elements to please the audience it will work out any day. No matter there are bad reviews or good, if it is meant to connect with the people, it will do so. “
Tell us about your AdFilms career?
“ Well, having worked with Priyadarshan Sir who is renowned for fiction, it was an exciting experience for me creatively. It is a completely different ball game, where the result is not the appreciation for your creative product you make, but for the footfalls and sales that you bring to your client via the Film. “
“ I have made ad films for ‘Kalyan Silks‘, ‘Indulekha‘ – from the time of its launch, ‘Malabar Cements’, ‘Asset homes ‘, ‘ Skyline ‘, and lots more. Using my experience with Priyadarshan Sir, which I am proud to say, I was able to implement a lot of techniques that helped reduce the making time of the Ads indeed reducing the overall cost of the Ad films. “
“ As I said, it is a completely different process than that of cinema, purely commercial, and the success of which is measured solely by commercial metrics and not the aesthetics of the filmmaking. “
You mentioned cost-cutting and how it helped your client, so isn’t it the same while making the cinema, does the burden of spending the Producer’s money a crucial aspect of Film making as well.
“ Absolutely!, one of the significant aspects of Filmmaking is to be Producer friendly. see, one can have ideas from anywhere, however, when someone trusts your idea and ability with his or her hard-earned money, the onus is on you to do justice with it. Because you sell your dream to a Producer and he becomes part of it with all the trust. “
What would you advise an aspiring Filmmaker to pursue: an ad filmmaking career or Cinema?
“ See, you cannot put these two together, as they are completely different. Yes, the equipment might be similar to an extent. However, if you want to become an Ad Filmmaker you need to learn the process extensively, the same applies to Cinema. “
“ In the 20 seconds of your Ad film, your sole purpose is to communicate the product features in a way that hooks the customer and indeed improves the product sales, and a lot of decisions and planning goes to it as there are so many modes of communicating, if you know what I mean. “
“ While Cinema has lots of layers, there is a chain of events, more characters a wide perspective to it altogether, you know. “
What is your take on Stardom and Superstars? Do you think it is still relevant, with the OTT platforms and content-driven platforms out there?
“ Look Stardom or Superstars all these were at the times when there was no accessibility, now that is not the case, everything is at your fingertips. Everyone with content is a Star, just by saying ‘Perfect Ok’ someone becomes famous and by adding music to that content there’s someone else becoming famous. “
“ Today, anyone with content is a Star. But the onus is on you to stay relevant, you need to continue creating unique contents, I think that is one of the challenges the technology has brought us, that you are bombarded with information and content you need to try harder to stay relevant if you want to continue to be famous. “
What is your Favorite Movie? Favorite Actor/Actress ?
“ Favourite Movie: I cannot name any as there are many of them, what I can tell you is, all of the movies of George Sir (K.G George) and Priyan Sir ( Priyadarshan), I also like Sathyan Anthikad Sir’s movies. “
” All time Favorite Actor: Mohan Lal
Current: Raj Kumar Rao ”
” Favorite Actress: Urvashi “
” Indian Cinema – Smitha Patil and Jaya Badhuri “
What would you advise the aspiring Creative Talents out there?
“ I don’t think I am anyone to advise here, I understand that my core field of interest being Visual media, I shall speak about that. In that sense, you need to keep your eyes wide open without any prejudice. Technology is always changing, look at all these changes as an opportunity, keep yourself updated always. “
“ There is nothing called Luck or destiny, I believe that there are only actions and results, so keep working, what you see in the world today is a result of our actions. “
“ If you are an aspiring Actor then, you need to observe a lot, learn acting there are so many aspects to it, learn the techniques because this is an applied art form and there are so many possibilities here and plenty of opportunities. If you want someone to give you work, you need to have your foundation right. “
“ And more importantly, ensure your friend’s circle is filled with people who are more knowledgeable and skilled than you are and the ones who criticize you, only then you will grow. “
Very rarely do we find such inspiring journey to write about as part of an Interview, we hope this helps an aspiring talent out there as there is so much take away here. We Wish and hope to watch his upcoming Film projects soon and wish him all the success.