A palatial however desolate home bathed in moonlight and surrounded by timber was a poster that introduced the remake of the basic Bhargavi Nilayam (1964).
Aashiq Abu knew what he was taking up when he determined to remake Bhargavi Nilayam. The movie, the scenes, the dialogues, the characters and, particularly, the soulful songs have stood the check of time and have a particular place within the hearts of Malayalam filmgoers. But, he determined to go forward with Neelavelicham, the unique title of Bhargavi Nilayam. By the way, it’s the solely screenplay written by beloved Malayalam author, Vaikom Muhammad Basheer.
Bhargavi Nilayam, thought of the primary horror-thriller in Malayalam cinema, was a blockbuster when it was launched on November 22, 1964.
Says Aashiq, “Into the cinematic universe of that time with its social dramas, romance and simple humour, Basheer’s contribution was a horror-romantic-thriller with seven songs. I don’t think even today such a multiple genre-blending script exists. As a filmmaker, I find this kind of genre-blending exciting!”
Aashiq says there have been a number of causes for taking up “this huge responsibility” of remaking a basic. “In my student days, in small libraries near my home, which had about 300 books or so, I had read the works of leading Malayalam writers such as SK Pottekkat, Radhakrishnan and Basheer among others. I had read the short story ‘Neelavelicham’. It was a story that stayed in my mind. I had no idea it was the story of Bhargavi Nilayam.”
Later, whereas Aashiq was working as an assistant director, there have been studies of a remake of Bhargavi Nilayam with Mohanlal and Mammootty, which was alleged to be helmed by stalwarts corresponding to litterateur MT Vasudevan Nair and the late John Paul. Nonetheless, these studies had been adopted by silence. It was round that point that Aashiq watched Bhargavi Nilayam.
The story of an writer coming to stay in a haunted home, his friendship with a ghost and his efforts to relate the story of an ill-fated romance mesmerised Aashiq. It was then that he realised that the story was primarily based on ‘Neelavelicham’, the quick story that he had learn years in the past. Years later, he occurred to learn the sixteenth version of the screenplay of Bhargavi Nilayam, revealed by DC Books.
“That was when my enthusiasm increased manifold. That screenplay, written in 1964, had colours and sound incorporated in it — the rustle of dry leaves, the scraping of heavy padlocks, creaking doors and even the sound of creatures in that vast compound were included in that detailed screenplay. I read it with great enthusiasm, especially the opening scene. I was astonished by the richness of the screenplay,” explains the director.
Bhargavi Nilayam had charmed viewers on account of its many dimensions. What attracted Aashiq was the sounds and colors specified by Basheer within the screenplay. “As Bhargavi Nilayam was a black-and-white film, even the title of Neelavelicham could not be envisaged in the film. Perhaps that was why it was renamed Bhargavi Nilayam. However, the specification of detailed colours and soundscape amazed me. I wondered how would it be if it were made today.”
For him, the start of every movie is marked by anxiousness and challenges. Though the making of Neelavelicham additionally concerned anxiousness, arduous work and sleeplessness, there was pleasure in equal measure. “Translating a classic text like this into the visual medium was exciting and challenging too.”
Even the casting took time. The 1964 movie, directed by A Vincent, was headlined by Prem Nazir, Madhu and Vijaya Nirmala. Rima Kallingal performs the primary function of Bhargavi. Initially, Prithviraj and Asif had been thought of to play the male protagonists. Nonetheless, date points cropped up and ultimately Aashiq zeroed in on Tovino Thomas and Roshan Mathew. Soubin Shahir’s busy schedule dominated him out and that function went to Shine Tom Chacko.
In Neelavelicham, Tovino, an enormous Basheer fan who has learn lots of his works, performs the writer. “Since Basheer has picturised himself as the author, it has been said that Basheer was keen that the author’s character be essayed by a good-looking actor with a good physique. In the 1964 film, Madhu, one of the handsome actors of those days, had enacted the role of the nameless author,” factors out the director.
“Basheer was a wrestler who took care of his physique. So, he was quite particular about the actor who played the role.”
Filmed by DOP Gireesh Gangadharan, the enduring music and songs had been scored below the baton of music director Bijibal and Rex Vijayan.
“As I had taken on this huge challenge, who else could I turn to but my close friends like Bijibal and Shahabaz Aman. The immortal songs in the film, written by P Bhaskaran and originally scored by Baburaj, required someone who had the competence, experience and the sensibility to do it. It needed a lot of courage. In Kerala, the only person I knew who could fit the bill was Bijibal,” maintains Aashiq.
He provides that even skilled composers and singers corresponding to Shahabaz and KS Chitra had been hesitant to the touch the songs however “they were also enthused about rising to the challenge. We have all worked hard. So, it can’t be too bad,” laughs Aashiq.
The choreography of a tune, carried out by Bhargavi, one of many visible delights within the movie, was by Sreejith, who has shared the stage with Rima in lots of her dance performances.
He credit costumer Sameera Saneesh, artwork director Jothish Shankar and your complete crew for the success of the songs and dance which have been trending on social media.
Because the movie releases on April 20, Aashiq says that he hopes a brand new era of viewers will take this movie to coronary heart. “I am waiting for people to see it and enjoy it.”