Way back in 2014, when techie/writer Mridul George and his filmmaker schoolmate/friend Arun Bose wrote Luca, finding a producer wasn’t easy. Not only because the team was made up of newcomers but also because the actor they had chosen, Tovino Thomas, was too new, not a safe enough bet. There was no question of making Luca with anybody else, says Mridul.
The team persisted until they found producers, Stories and Thoughts. When Luca was finally announced, in late 2017, Tovino Thomas was on his way to becoming one of Malayalam cinema’s most bankable actors. So when Luca releases this Friday, it is a cherished dream come true for a handful of film lovers.
“The timing is right. The intervening five years have helped all of us, we have evolved. This the right time for Luca, it is a larger film with a large canvas. Audience viewing patterns too have changed,” says the 31-year-old engineer from Muvattupuzha. When the team got to filming, in 2019, they were ready.
For Mridul, Luca is the fruition of a childhood dream, of being part of showbiz. While still an engineering student, he started scripting and anchoring for television. He even developed a script for a film that didn’t get made, but it was a start nevertheless.
“During my training session at Infosys, where I worked, we were asked to write down one long term and a short term dream. My long term dream was seeing my name on the title card of a Malayalam film and the short term one was to bring out a collection of short stories.”
In 2018, he brought out his collection of short stories, again based on films – Paathimurinja Ticketukal and this year his long term dream comes true with Luca, “it is luck and the Almighty’s blessings.”
His stint at Infosys, Thiruvananthapuram, got him close to filmsand he made friends with similar interests. Basil Joseph, for instance, is one such. Mridul has been part of the teams that made short films, in fact in 2015 he scripted and directed his first short film Mattoru Katha.
He is part of, what he calls, the ‘Muvattupuzha Film Fraternity’ on the film set with Arun and actor Nithin George.
“The experience was great, the camaraderie was palpable…since we have all known each other, and collaborated on other projects, besides being friends,” says Mridul, who works in a IT firm in Infopark. Although films are a love, he plans to take his job and his passion alongside. He has not planned anything, film-wise immediately, he wants to see how Luca is received first.
Luca is a scrap artist’s (Tovino Thomas) story, and of how two parallel story lines meet when something happens – “the film explores relationships, emotions and art. Usually, in cinema, an artist is always invariably a painter. We wanted our artist to be another kind of artist, who is successful and known in art circles. The art team helped us greatly in deciding what kind of artist we could use. The scrap artist suggestion came from them, and of course the Biennale also helped.”
Tovino Thomas’ elder brother Tingston is Mridul’s colleague and friend, “Tingston showed us photographs from one of Tovino’s photo shoots. When we made Luca’s character sketch, Tovino came to mind. At the time he had done ABCD, 7th Day and Ennu Ninte Moideen was being made. We felt that he’d be most suited for the role. There was no question of going forward without him. Filming had to wait till this year as Tovino completed his earlier commitments and was able to get into the character’s look.”
The idea, for Luca, came from Arun, which Mridul and Arun then developed into a script. Over the years, from 2014 onward, they’ve revisited the script, made the required tweaks and now it is ready. “I am nervously excited about the release,” signs off Mridul.