Lijo has worked passionately for over 15 months on 'Malaikottai Vaaliban'.
Each department of filmmaking bears his signature notes of improvement, as does his love for unique and distinctive sound.
After days and weeks of sleepless nights, Lijo and the sound team completed the final mix of 'Malaikottai'. On our drive back to the hotel, he called a few of his closest colleagues who were part of the film and shared his hope: "Let this film bring a sea of change in your life and everyone who was part of this." It was his prayer, and he believed deeply in the power of film.
It is not uncommon for me to question much of what he does as a critic, friend, movie watcher, and film composer. We engage in healthy arguments, most of which he wins. It is because I have come to realize that he is paving a path that few have ever taken, paving a path that will be followed by many others.
Lijo's films are a cinematic bible. From just a few seconds of a scene, one can get inspiration for an entire film. The astute observer can tell this. His films elevate not only his direction style, but also his music, cinematography, editing, and many other aspects. The path he is setting is a testament to this. He takes great pride in knowing that his work can inspire new filmmakers.
The fact that Lijo does not seek sympathy or appreciation for his films serves as a reminder. Even in the midst of all the storms and noise surrounding each of his films, including this one, he maintains an inner balance. I have learned something from him about his love for being grounded, even though his films are far beyond that.
The day before 'Malaikottai Vaaliban's release, we booked a hotel room beside the theater where the first show was scheduled. After celebrating late into the night, Lijo made a heartfelt choice on the release day. For the 6:30 AM show, rather than rushing to the theater, he drove an hour to his home.
There, he sought his mother's blessings and enjoyed a cup of tea made just how he likes it—strong, with minimal milk, more tea leaves, and less sugar.
This cup of tea, so significant to him, reflects how Lijo approaches everything that matters in his life.
It reminds me of Frank Sinatra's "I did it my way," where the line "For what is a man, what has he got? If not himself, then he has naught" aptly describes Lijo's approach to filmmaking.
Lijo's vision and commitment to his craft, in the face of challenges and criticism, have shaped 'Malaikottai Vaaliban' into a film that many may overlook, some will cherish, but an entire generation cannot ignore in the years to come.
The picture was taken on the day Malaikottai was released. In the background, you can see people lined up to enter the theatre.