Many stars like Maniyanpilla Raju, Jagadeesh, Innocent, Jagathy Sreekumarda, Soman, Jayabharathi, Asokan and Suchitra have joined the cast. But Dennis Joseph has revealed that the script was written just a day before filming. Three decades after the film’s release, another truth is revealed. Dennis Joseph Manorama tells Newsday.com that the Madras Mail was a flop.
Shoot the other day, and started writing today
The most common occurrence is the number 20 Madras Mail. Joshi says this is a day before the movie starts. I’m writing the screenplay for a movie that starts shooting tomorrow. Filming did not begin with writing the entire screenplay. Only wrote the script to shoot the first day. The story of the film begins in Kerala. But the first day of shooting is in Chennai. Scene number 40 is written first. So I had to write. Because Joshi’s another movie was originally scheduled. But suddenly the film had to be done. I write the script at 8 am and it will be 3 am.
Mohanlal said, Mammootty came
Mohanlal is just one of the first scenes where I start writing. Joshi was the first to shoot and Mohanlal is the only movie. Then I say number 20 I write. Mammootty is back. It was Mohanlal who suggested that Mammootty be invited to the role. We were originally meant to be in the role of a non-superstar actor. So called Mammoka. He agreed. Mammootty is a bigger star than Mohanlal. We were wondering if he would come into that role. But he came and acted.
No other actor is predetermined. Maniyanpillai Raju. All the stars like Jagadeesh and Soman have been given their convenience. But it was all for the characters. Innocent and Jagathy wanted to dress up as TTR. Got them too. Suchitra. She needed a 16-year-old girl. Suchitra is someone who adjoined Joshi. It wasn’t hard for a big director like Joshi to bring them into the film.
It was a completely scripted film. But Innocent’s song “Tonikutta” was his own. Beyond that, there is no involvement of artists in any of Joshi’s films. There is nothing to change or add to the dialogue. The method was to learn to write without seeing it. Joshi is a director who follows the script accurately.
Innocent often sings these kinds of spots. We asked ourselves, ‘Can’t we make it into the movie?’ The credit for that song is for Innocent. When I was writing the script in a room, I was singing songs with Ouseppachan and Emperor Shibu in the adjoining room. This is where the ‘pitchers’ poop’ is born.
My experience in Madras mail
The theme of this film is my life experience. I was living in Ernakulam at the time. Most of the shooting of films is done in Madras. Most of his life was in the No. 20 Madras Mail. Decides quickly. Going. Soap up the TTR and buy the ticket. These are all things we have experienced firsthand. Everything other than witnessing a murder is an experience of its own. Not only me but most of the filmmakers of that day have boarded this train at least 50 times.
Joshi’s ‘Number One’
The film is a novelty of the subject. When Mohanlal and Mammootty were together, the film took a different dimension. And most of the scenes are inside a train. It wasn’t a set. It was actually filmed inside the train. It was very difficult to shoot with the cameras of those days. Only a director with a complete technical skill, like Joshi, could make it that day. The success of the film can only be attributed to Joshi.
Not super hit ..!
Truth be told, the movie was not really a super hit when it was released. Just a hit. Later, people loved this film. It is the most loved film of all generation. But when it landed, it was a barely paid investment. ‘Not at all a super hit’. This is the truth. But now it’s a super hit. After 30 years, people have forgotten the real super hits that came with it. People still remember the film. It is one of only 80 films released that year.
I don’t know why it happened then. Maybe due to lack of luck. Not only the present generation but those of the then generation thought that this was a hit movie.