Malayalam film Premalu has all the tropes and conventions of the rom-com genre: Girish AD

With anticipation in the air, director and co-writer Girish AD shares a hearty laugh in response to the question of whether he possesses a secret recipe for box office success. As his newest film “Premalu” gears up for its release this Friday, expectations are high given Girish’s track record. His directorial debut, “Thanneermathan Dinangal” (2019), took audiences by storm, while “Super Sharanya” (2022) resonated with its teen and young adult demographic. Despite this success, Girish humbly dismisses the notion of a hit-making formula.

Speaking over the phone during the final stages of post-production, he explains, “No [laughs] I don’t have a formula! I don’t have a ‘brand new’ story to tell. As a writer, my goal is to craft stories that exude a certain mood or vibe.” And that is exactly what he seems to do best, especially when it comes to blending the coming-of-age genre with romantic comedy elements. “Premalu” promises to be no different in that it embraces the expected tropes and conventions, yet Girish insists that there’s no formulaic approach at play.

The charm of Girish’s films often lies within their relatability, particularly to college-aged audiences, who form his core fanbase. He appreciates their open-mindedness and lack of bias towards star power. Girish notes, “They are non-judgemental, without hang-ups about who the actors are. If they like a film, they will embrace it, return to watch it with their friends and family.” But he is quick to add that his appeal isn’t limited to the youth, as older viewers find a sense of nostalgia and remnants of their own youth in his storytelling.

One of Girish’s strengths lies in his ability to recognize talent irrespective of their fame, as exemplified by his casting choices in “Thanneermathan Dinangal.” His films stand as a testament to the fact that well-thought-out scripts and effective storytelling transcend the necessity of big names to attract audiences.

For his latest endeavor, “Premalu,” Girish has teamed up with co-writer Kiran Josey, known for directing the viral short film “Anurag Engineering Works” (AEW). The duo’s long-standing familiarity even predates AEW, and it was post-“Super Sharanya” discussions that led to the concept of “Premalu.” Following the idea of a spin-off or a spoof initially, it was eventually decided to intertwine a fresh character named Reenu, personified by Mamitha Baiju, and set her story against the backdrop of Hyderabad—a rarity for Malayalam films.

The choice of locale was deliberate, and Girish is thankful for producers who understood the importance of shooting on location to truly capture the essence of Hyderabad. “That was a huge blessing!” he exclaims, expressing gratitude towards the producers who did not cut corners.

Girish continues to bank on his trusted troupe of actors, with Naslen headlining “Premalu,” continuing their collaboration which has spanned from “Thanneermathan Dinangal” to “Super Sharanya.” Girish values the comfort and ease that comes with working with familiar faces, coupled with the credibility of their performances. “How many actors do we have who can convincingly portray a 20-something college student?” he posits. The film is not without other notable names, including an appearance by Mathew Thomas and featuring Althaf Salim, Shyam Mohan, Akhila Bhargavan, and Meenakshi Raveendran under the production banner of Bhavana Studios.

Fans curious about surprise guest appearances, much like Vineeth Sreenivasan’s in “Thanneermathan Dinangal,” will have to wait and watch, as Girish playfully hints, “No…not really! Or maybe one.”

With the release date set for February 9, the theatrical arrival of “Premalu” is eagerly awaited by fans who have come to admire Girish AD’s unique voice in the landscape of Malayalam cinema, which continues to enchant with its relatable coming-of-age tales woven into the fabric of romantic comedy.

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