“Oru Nyayarazcha (A Sunday) is about the ambiguous nature and fragility of relationships. It doesn’t have a happy ending… But it’s not bleak either. In fact, it does not have a conclusion as such. It’s about individual choices and realisations. It is that inconclusive-ness, the confusion, of the human mind that I wanted to convey,” says filmmaker Shyamaprasad, whose latest work, a Malayalam film titled Oru Nyayarazcha, follows two women who find themselves in a complex swirl of marriage, love, lust and familial bonds. As the protagonists explore the boundaries of love along with the men in their lives — husbands and lovers — they have difficult decisions to make. “Our lives are getting affected by a kind of social conditioning. That confusion is relevant in this story,” he says.
The film is the story of Suja and Sujatha, who belong to upper middle-class families in Kerala. “Yet through cracks in the comfortable monotony of their lives, loneliness seeps in, time hangs heavy. As they struggle to play out their roles, the craving for something new starts. The jagged edges of that craving begin to soften as they find love, or some version of it, with strangers who enter their lives,” Shyamaprasad writes in the film’s synopsis.
Oru Nyayarazcha was the closing film at a Malayalam film festival, organised by Kerala State Chalachitra Academy at Delhi’s India International Centre from July 3-6. Earlier this year, in February, it was adjudged as the second-best film at the Kerala State Film Awards. Shyamaprasad won the best director award, the newest addition to his long list of accolades. “It’s nice to get (awards) but it’s okay even if one does not. It’s because there are so many beautiful movies that have not received any awards. And there are worthless films which have won a lot of them. Awards are not a yardstick, but it’s nice to be appreciated,” says Shyamaprasad.
The July 6 show of Oru Nyayarazcha in Delhi was its first public screening. Asked if more people would get to watch it, the director, who has also composed its background score, says that the film will probably find its way to a digital platform soon. “We are working on it,” says the director, whose writing process originates at the point of screenwriting. “Screenwriting is basically preparation for the film that you are going to do. But I’m not someone who will deliver literary works,” he says.
Most of Shyamaprasad’s work, intense and brimming with a wave of emotions, has resulted in stories about people, and the human condition. His first film, Kallu Kondoru Pennu (1998), looked at how a nurse working in the Gulf, who puts her family above all else, painfully learns that their relationship with her comes with several expectations and conditions. There has also been Ritu (2009) about three youngsters and how their friendship changes over time. It has acquired the status of a cult film that heralded a change in Malayalam cinema. His previous film, Hey Jude (2018), is a charming romantic comedy revolving around a quirky couple.
The filmmaker has worked with leading actors such as Mammootty, Suresh Gopi, Rajit Kapur, Fahadh Faasil, Prithviraj, Shobhana, and Nivin Pauly among others. In Oru Nyayarazcha, however, he opted for new faces — actors Sally Kannan, Megha Thomas, Sateesh Kumar and Murali Chand. “I don’t decide on projects as platforms for any actor. If a story can engage an actor in it, good,” he says. His next is an adaptation of Anees Salim’s 2017 novel, The Small-Town Sea, which focuses on the bond between a boy and his terminally ill father and how the son deals with the latter’s death. He has previously made Agnisakshi (1999) adapted from Lalithambika Antharjanam’s novel, Akale, (2004) which is based on Tennessee Williams’s play The Glass Menagerie, and The Artist (2013) based on Paritosh Uttam’s Dreams in Prussian Blue