‘Dear Friend’ has a different take on friendship’, says director Vineeth Kumar – filmyzoo

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Vineeth Kumar is ecstatic that he has ticked many boxes from his wishlist in his second directorial, Dear Friend, which releases on June 10.

The actor, who made his directorial debut with the Fahadh Faasil-starrer Ayaal Njaanalla in 2015, has fulfilled his dream of working with cinematographer Shyju Khalid and the writer duo of Sharfu and Suhas, known for films such as Varathan, Virus and Puzhu.

Vineeth has hit a jackpot with the cast too. Besides Tovino Thomas, Darshana Rajendran and director Basil Joseph, the film has Arjun Lal, Arjun Radhakrishnan and Sanchana Natarajan. They play a group of friends based in Bengaluru.

“There have been many films on friendship. But Dear Friend has a different take on friendship. We all have that dear friend (s) whom we believe will be with us for ever. We share our joys, hopes and fears with them, even those that we don’t tell our immediate family. But what if that friend decides to get out of that relationship? That’s when you realise that you have not understood that person. Dear Friend explores this angle of friendship.”

Vineeth Kumar (left) with actor-director Basil Joseph on the location of ‘Dear Friend’
| Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

It was Arjun Lal who took the story idea to Vineeth. “He has lived in Bengaluru for some time and so the narrative has a lot of his personal experiences. I felt that it had the potential to be made into a film. But since I was busy with pre-production work of my second film after Ayaal Njaanalla at that time, we thought of doing it later,” says Vineeth. However, later, he focussed on Dear Friends and put his second project on hold.

Vineeth observes that Tovino’s is a new character in his filmography. “There is an innocence in his dialogue delivery and we wanted to tap into that aspect of his acting. Even though I was not sure if he would be able to pull it off, he was on track within a couple of days. As for other actors, they were chosen because we thought they fit the bill.”

Friends forever

Tovino Thomas and Arjun Radhakrishnan in a still from ‘Dear Friend’ directed by Vineeth Kumar
| Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

He says that the actors got along so well on their own that he did not have to make any effort. “They are sensible, experienced actors. I wanted their performances to be organic and I got exactly what I wanted. After the shoot they would hang out together, party and have fun. Besides Bengaluru, we had a 10-day schedule in Mumbai as well. Some of them were not even needed for those scenes, but they travelled to Mumbai, paying from their pocket just to be with the team,” he adds.

So how was it like working with three other directors: Shyju, Sameer and Basil? “The making process turned out to be smooth with so many experienced and talented people around. I was confident that I would be able to make the film the way I had conceptualised it. Had Shyju and Sameer not come on board [as producers] the project would not have happened. It would have been difficult for me to convince any other producer with the storyline we had,” Vineeth says. Ashiq Usman is the third producer of the movie.

Being a filmmaker

Acting comes only second to direction for Vineeth, who has done many films as a child actor before he started playing supporting roles. He has decided not to act in his own movies but continues to act and has an upcoming release, Simon Daniel.

Vineeth Kumar (left) with cinematographers Sameer Thahir and Shyju Khalid, who are also producers of 'Dear Friend'

Vineeth Kumar (left) with cinematographers Sameer Thahir and Shyju Khalid, who are also producers of ‘Dear Friend’
| Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

“I always wanted to be behind the camera, probably because of my father who is a photographer. When I was young, I attempted to make films with my siblings. I have been making ad films for 12 years now. I am a self-taught filmmaker. I feel that if I had assisted a filmmaker, I might have been influenced by that particular director’s approach to a subject,” he explains.

Even though Ayaal Njaanalla did not do well in theatres, Vineeth says that he was not heartbroken. “Just before the release of the movie, Nazriya [Fahadh’s wife] asked if it was going to be a hit. I told her that it would be an average movie and she was surprised. I said so because for a movie to be a blockbuster, it has to be a love story, comedy or a thriller. Ayaal Njaanalla doesn’t fall into any of that categories. So I had to say the story in the most interesting way without relying on these elements and that was not easy,” he signs off.

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