Produced by Sudhan Sundaram, and G Jayaram under the Passion Studios banner in association with Bicycle Cinemas, the film is directed by debutant Praveen, who has also headlined it.
Speaking to Silverscreen India about the film, VFX artist Praveen, who worked as a technical director for Rajinikanth-starrer Kochadaiiyaan, says, “Pothanur Thabal Nilayam is a trilogy, with the first part coming out on May 27. It is a suspense drama against the backdrop of a post office. The whole film takes place within a span of two days and looks into how a mistake made by one person creates a ripple effect, becoming problematic for other people. There is also an element of robbery in the film.”
Praveen, who has also written the script, says that he got the idea to make it into a trilogy, when he finished writing the first instalment, back in 2013. “Although the story has a concrete ending, I expanded it into two other parts, as there is so much to say in this story. The first part takes place in 1990, while the other two instalments are set in 1991 and 1992, respectively. There will be a sense of continuity between all three films,” he adds.
The filmmaker reveals that his father was a cashier at the Pothanur post office in Coimbatore. He says that while the story’s “base” falls under fiction, the “toppings” were inspired by the real incidents that his father had narrated. Praveen says, “After school, we used to go to the post office. Once, when he went to the bank to withdraw money, he was escorted by the police. Those visuals stayed in my mind for a long time. My father has also shared his experiences, which I have taken references from. However, the film’s storyline is not entirely based on real incidents.”
On being asked why he chose this film as his debut, Praveen says, “I had many ideas, but this one stayed in my mind for long time. The period backdrop of this film was also interesting, given that the post office was functioning at its peak, at that time. The element of suspense also sat well with the period drama the modes of communication that existed at the time.”
Aside from Praveen, other cast members include Anjali Rao, Venkat Sundar, Jagan Krish, Seetharaman and Deena, among others. “About 50 artists from a theatre background from Coimbatore were also roped in for the film. I play the role of an entrepreneur, aspiring to start a computer-based company. It is set in the 90s, when such businesses were just kicking off. As my character struggles, the incidents that take place in his life will turn his plans upside down.” Praveen adds that he wrote the script for him to take on the lead role, since the film’s conception.
Praveen has also handled the film’s art direction. He says that his team and him took minute details into account. “About 90% of the film was shot on set, with some VFX. We constantly got in touch with my father and his colleagues, in order to match the accuracy of that time. Apparently, there were no printed logos until 1993, but for cinematic liberty we used a logo. We even cross-checked for props, like the different types of pens that existed in that period.”
Pothanur Thabal Nilayam was shot by cinematographer Sukumaran Sundar across Coimbatore, Tiruchy, Kerala. It was filmed in 2018 and 2019 and was edited by Praveen, himself. “We were scheduled for a theatrical release before the pandemic hit. However, if the film garners good reception post its release, the second one will also premiere in theatres,” he says. Tenma has composed four songs for the film.
Touching upon the other instalments, Praveen says that the scripts are ready but filming has been delayed due to the pandemic. The other parts will also feature the same characters, and is a continuation of the same storyline.
Aside from the trilogy, Praveen will be helming a “hard-core crime” drama, which is yet to be announced.