Always try to find humour in conflict: Director Ajayan Venugopalan

The popular Malayalam sitcom Akkarakazhchakal, Hindi OTT show Metro Park, and the recently released film Shiv Shastri Balboa, Venugopalans work mostly focuses on the lives of Indians living abroad.
Writer-director Ajayan Venugopalan
Writer-director Ajayan Venugopalan

MUMBAI: Writer-director Ajayan Venugopalan says he enjoys utilising humour as a tool to highlight conflicting situations and communicate important messages.

The popular Malayalam sitcom “Akkarakazhchakal”, Hindi OTT show “Metro Park”, and the recently released film “Shiv Shastri Balboa”, Venugopalan's work mostly focuses on the lives of Indians living abroad. All the three projects have been written and directed by Venugopalan.

In his debut Hindi film “Shiv Shastri Balboa'', the Kerala-born director said he wanted to carry forward his format of delivering social messages in an entertaining way.

“I like to write comedy and I have written comedy all my life. I always try to find humour especially when there is conflict or confusion happening. A little bit of touch of humour goes a long way in terms of communicating something.

''Like, in ‘Shiv Shastri Balboa’, I wanted to communicate about the complex problems of undocumented workers, illegal immigration but with a touch of humour,” Venugopalan told PTI in an interview.

Starring veteran actors Anupam Kher and Neena Gupta in the lead, “Shiv Shastri Balboa” revolves around two elderly Indians and their unexpected adventures in the US. The slice-of-life comedy also addresses the stereotype attached with old age, said the director, who moved back to India after working in the IT industry in the US for years.

“This is a story about two elderly people, who are going on this crazy road trip across the heart of America. The reason I decided to make this film is because, especially in our culture, there is a stigma about getting old, retirement and all that. It basically asks a fundamental question that, ‘Is it too late to reinvent yourself?'.'' The engineer-turned-filmmaker said he is fascinated with narrating stories that explore the true life of Indians in America.

“We always think of the glitz and glamour of their (Indians) lives but there are a lot of sacrifices and tears behind it. All that is not portrayed in mainstream medium, it is often glamorized. I have been an NRI for many years, it has been a great experience but we have our struggles and those stories need to be told.

''In mainstream space, either we glamourise or we call it NRI movies, our stories are not given the right voice. I wanted to break that with this film and address certain things from my own experience,” Venugopalan said.

''Shiv Shastri Balboa'', also starring Sharib Hashmi, Nargis Fakhri, and Jugal Hansraj, released theatrically on Friday.

Up next for Venugopalan is season three of “Metro Park”, which he is likely to shoot in August-September.

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