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Ottakkomban: Suresh Gopi-Starrer Action Drama is a Fictional Story Set in Pala, Says Writer Shibin Francis

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Photo Source: Official Poster of 'Ottakkomban'

Ottakkomban, the upcoming Malayalam film starring Suresh Gopi, is an action-based family drama set in Pala in Kottayam district, Kerala, the film’s writer Shibin Francis told Silverscreen India

The film’s second look poster was released by Suresh Gopi on the occasion of his 63rd birthday on Saturday (June 26). Ottakkomban is directed by Mathews Thomas and produced by Tomichan Mulakkuppadam. The film also features Biju Menon, Mukesh, Vijayraghavan, Johny Antony Anand Mahadevan and Renji Panicker.

It was earlier announced in October that Ottakkomban would be Suresh Gopi’s 250th film.

Speaking to Silverscreen India, Shibin, who has earlier written the scripts for films like Pavada (2016), and Under World (2017), said, “It is a completely fictional story based on a fictional character. Suresh Gopi plays a character named Kuruvachan. He is a family-man and a trader by profession, settled in Pala. Though his name is similar to that of a real-life person, Kaduvakunnel Kuruvachan from Pala, Ottakkomban is not a story about the real Kuruvachan.”

Ottakkomban and Kaduva, another upcoming film which stars as Prithviraj Sukumaran as Kaduvakunnel Kuruvachan, have been embroiled in controversy for a long time alleging that the stories are similar. In October 2020, the Kerala High Court had banned Ottakkomban and given clearance to Kaduva. The verdict came after Kaduva’s writer Jinu had approached the Ernakulam District Court claiming that Ottakkomban was plagiarised from his film. 

Shibin clarified that the two films have completely different stories and screenplays. “The makers of Kaduva had submitted their script in the court and after examination, it was learnt that our work is not similar to it,” he said, adding that the case is now closed.

Elaborating on why they chose the name Kuruvachan even when the story is not based on the real-life character, Shibin explained that Kuruvachan is one of the common names used in Pala and added that the name was suitable for Suresh Gopi’s character and looks in the film. “Anyone can use any name. For instance, the name Sethumadhavan has been used by both Mammootty and Mohanlal in different films. It’s likewise with Ottakkomban.”

On choosing to set the story in Pala, Shibin said being a native of the locality himself, he has a better understanding of the place, its people and lifestyle. “One of my previous films, CIA (Comrade in America, the 2017 Malayalam romantic action-adventure directed by Amal Neerad and starring Dulquer Salmaan) was also set in Pala.” 

Shibin added that he has tried to bring in authentic usage of the region’s dialect in the film. “I feel Kottayam’s Pala accent and dialect has not been explored authentically in films. Earlier films set in the region have mainly used a dialect similar to that of the Thiruvalla and Pathanamthitta regions with some variations. So in Ottakkomban, I have tried to use some of the vocabulary that is prevalent in Pala.”

According to the writer, Ottakkomban is unlike the olden days ‘Achayan’ films. These were typically films that revolved around a protagonist from a Christian community, hailing from the central and southern parts of Kerala, who were typecast as people involved in the spirit (alcohol) business or those who owned a bar. “In Ottakkomban, we will show how the traders and businesses in the locality have evolved over the period and Suresh Gopi’s character will also reflect such growth and changes.”

Ottakkomban, which began filming in December 2019, has been temporarily halted owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. Shibin revealed that the makers had shot 5% of the film before the pandemic and are hoping to resume the shoot once lockdown restrictions are relaxed.

“Besides Pala, important portions of the film will be shot in Thiruvananthapuram, Gujarat, and Bali in Indonesia. This is a big canvas film that will be ideal for a theatrical experience,” said Shibin, adding that the lockdown has given him a chance to work on the script and enhance it further.

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