Ratheena PT on ‘Puzhu’: ‘A movie to be experienced and not explained’

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The debutant director talks about bringing together Mammootty and Parvathy for the first time

The debutant director talks about bringing together Mammootty and Parvathy for the first time

When Ratheena PT met Mammootty as a starstruck fan, little did she think she would be directing him in her debut film, Puzhu, which brings together Mammootty and Parvathy Thiruvothu for the first time. The star, however, encouraged Ratheena to follow her passion by working in cinema. Ratheena says she was not just content with making her directorial debut but somehow hoped it would star Mammootty.

Later, the filmmaker met Mammootty with a one-line story that the latter thought had potential. He put Ratheena in touch with Unda’s scenarist Harshad to work on the screenplay since Ratheena felt she might find it difficult to write with a toddler to look after. Harshad came up with a road movie, but the big-budget film did not take off due to the pandemic The trio thought of a plan B.

“That is when Harshad ikka (elder brother) suggested the story of Puzhu. I thought it was one of the most moving stories I had heard. When I sent it to Mammootty, he said he liked it too. We were back on track. That was how Puzhu evolved.”

Harshad took Sharafudheen and Suhas onboard to write the screenplay. “We rented a flat in Kozhikode and got down to work. At every stage, we kept the star in the loop,” says Ratheena.

She says while writing the screenplay, they also kept discussing the cast. That is when Parvathy’s name came up. “As soon as Harshad ikka called her and told her the one-line story, she found it intriguing and agreed to listen to the story. We also told Mammooka who responded with a ‘thumbs up’ sign. Parvathy was all the more enthused when she heard that I was directing Puzhu,” says Ratheena, who had previously worked as the executive producer for Parvathy’s Uyare.

Film director Ratheena PT

According to Ratheena, Puzhu is more about “the world of a character and how certain incidents shape his perspective of people and the world. Moreover, the protagonist’s name is not revealed in the initial scenes.” The director points out how many of us are referred to by many names and terms of endearment by various people. Ratheena points out how each of our lives also has aspects of drama, romance, tragedy and mystery.

“While the film is about one person’s life, it also dwells upon the people whose lives are connected with his. Isn’t that how our lives are?”

What about the title Puzhu (worm)? “Well, when you see the film, the puzhu manifests in different ways. For every viewer, the puzhu could be different. Even Mamookka’s character’s name is revealed only when the puzhu enters the scene,” says Ratheena. Both the trailer and sources indicate that Mammootty’s character has negative shades and is a role that he has not played before on screenRatheena, however, maintains that it is a movie to be experienced and not explained.

“Both Mammotty and Parvathy are professionals. It was smooth sailing on the sets. Although there were a few who wondered whether I would pull it off, I had no doubts. We have seen them in many characters and so we know how they step in for a character.”

As Ratheena joins the the select list of women directors in Malayalam cinema, she points out that since she knew that her destination was tinsel town, she was happy to work in any field associated with cinema. “I have assisted Revathy. I have worked in ad films and for film promotions.”

Ratheena observes that while author-backed female roles were aplenty in different periods of Malayalam cinema, the increasing presence of women technicians is a positive trend.

“When I began working in movies, it used to be difficult to find even one woman working behind the camera. That has changed completely. Now, there are so many women working in different departments. That, I feel, is the most important change in the Malayalam film industry. I am part of that change. That is how I, a mother, has been able to direct my film.”

Puzhu releases on SonyLIV on May 13.


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