Telling the story of ‘Kurup’ – one of India’s most wanted fugitives

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From recreating the 1980s to ‘following’ the trail of Sukumara Kurup, filmmaker Srinath Rajendran talks about what went into the making of ‘Kurup’ starring Dulquer Salmaan

Kurup, which releases in theatres on November 12, has been in the making for a while but director Srinath Rajendran is not complaining. He sees the time the team got to work on it as a bonus. With the release date looming in the background, invariably there is very little time left to lavish on post-production. “The two-year break was a good thing. Not getting time to work on post-production is a curse for the Malayalam film industry, we could take all the time – a year and a half – for post-production!” says Srinath.

Srinath says making this film was his ‘destiny’, as he was born around the time the events pertaining to the crime took place. The idea for the film came randomly, he says. It was conceived in 2012, soon after the release of his first film Second Show. He says the years since Second Show have been preparatory for the team.

Kurup is a ‘period film’, some time has passed since the event but people who are part of the story are still alive.” Telling the story of one of India’s most wanted fugitives that spans cities and countries would take time and research, which included speaking to people who knew him. There were a few who were reluctant to share their stories.

“We can never forget that an innocent man [Chacko] is involved, that there is another side to the story!” Srinath says. For some, Sukumara Kurup is a conman and murderer; for others, he is a mystery. No one knows if he is alive or where he is. The case is still open, so the film is ‘inspired by’ and the lead character’s name has been changed.

With the story by Jithin K Jose, it has been a tightrope to walk. Kurup got its share of flak for lionizing Kurup: Jithin Chacko, son of Chacko (who Kurup murdered), even sent a legal notice to the film’s producers. The issue was settled after a screening for Jithin and his mother Santhamma, which eased their apprehensions.

The story is not an easy one to tell. There are several perspectives on Kurup, all of which had to be considered while writing the script. “This [film] is the journey of Kurup’s life, told from our perspective but culled from those of others who are part of this story. We have done it passionately and we hope everyone likes it.”

The film criss-crosses Kerala and India — Alappuzha, Thrissur, Palakkad, Mysuru, Bengaluru, Mangalore, Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Mumbai — besides locations in West Asia too. Rather than build sets, it was shot in actual locations. “If the film was set in the 18th century, it would have been easy to recreate using our imagination. But this is not in the remote past, people remember the 1980s. Each department, including set and costume design, had to do their research.”

Dulquer came on board when he heard of Srinath’s idea, which worked well for the film, he says. “All of us involved in the film have matured. Dulquer is the same guy he was then, he has evolved as an actor. We have all grown more.”

To the question of whether they considered taking the OTT route, given the uncertainty around theatres reopening, Srinath says, “All of us thought about it. But we had faith that theatres would open. Kurup was made for theatres.”

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