Actor-director Sidhartha Siva’s Aanu (Yes) is set to be screened at the 27th International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) under the Malayalam Cinema Today category. It marks the debut of actor-writer Sajitha Madathil as a scenarist.
She plays Sudharma, a divorcee, who is a home baker and needs a delivery person, especially on a day when she has received one of the biggest orders — a 10-kg wedding cake. That is when young Alma (Namitha Pramod) comes to meet her and Sudharma mistakes her for a delivery girl. Later, Sudharma comes to know that Alma has a different motive and that their lives are connected.
Sajitha, an award-winning multifaceted artiste, says that she had written this story for theatre. “I wrote it during the pandemic and had shared it with a few of my close friends, including Sidhu (Sidhartha Siva), with whom I was working on another script. It was his idea to make it into a film without overhauling what I had written. So, he set the entire film in a room with the two characters. The narrative rides on emotions and dialogue. That room becomes the stage. Instead of going for the typical format in films, he experimented with the concept,” says Sajitha, adding that the director is always game for new things.
Namitha, who has been part of mainstream cinema for many years now, says that playing Alma was like going to an acting school. “I felt relieved as an actor when I did this film because I haven’t got many meaty roles in my career. So when this story came to me, I wanted to do it. Another reason was Sidhu chettan [director Sidhartha Siva] with whom I worked in my first film as heroine [ Puthiya Theerangal, 2012]. He is an awesome director who knows how to mould an actor. It was a learning and unlearning experience. And that helped me in the six other projects I did after Aanu,” says Namitha.
She mentions that the film handles a serious subject that many women or families hesitate to talk about. “Becoming Alma had its own process. First, we were made to understand the character after which we were asked to present the whole thing as a play. That was a challenge because I have not done theatre before. The process was difficult and I was so emotionally drained that at one point I broke down. But that outburst helped me to bring out raw emotions. Sajitha chechi [Sajitha Madathil] worked with me for several days on the script and dialogues,” she explains.
It is her first year at the IFFK. “Although I have grown up in Thiruvananthapuram, I couldn’t attend it due to several reasons. I am happy that I am making a debut with my own film. However, I am nervous about the whole thing as well,” she says.
This is Sidhartha’s fifth film that has made it to the IFFK. Shot in Kochi over 10 days, the film is produced by him and B Rakesh. Singer Manjari has scored the music for lyrics written by poet Vijayarajamallika.
Aanu will be screened on December 11 (Kalabhavan, 2.45pm), December 13 (Kairali, 11.15am) and December 14 (New-2, 9.45am).