It was during the shoot of Basil Joseph’s debut movieKunjiramayanam that he met scriptwriter Rakesh Mantodi, who shared with him the interesting thread of a story on wrestling. Basil was impressed and decided to make it his next.
But then, like most Malayalis, they too weren’t well versed about wrestling, which is yet to be a popular sport in Kerala. (This was much before Sultan and Dangal happened).
“To write the script, we needed to know what wrestling was. So, we approached wrestler Minnal George, at Fort Kochi, to learn more about the sport, before embarking on the scripting process,” says Basil.
Even penning it came with many prerequisites. “Nobody knows much about wrestling. So, the movie had to convey the basics. We had nothing to refer to, not even a foreign movie. Another issue was that, unlike boxing or any other sport, wrestling does not have any adrenalin-pumping moments. Rarely does a take-down happen as well. So, to hook a viewer, we needed the script to be edgy, and that was the real challenge,” says Basil.
By the end of 2015, the script was ready. Basil roped in Tovino Thomas, Ranji Panicker and Punjabi actor Wamiqa Gabbi. Then, it was the turn of the artists to learn wrestling.
“Tovino stayed at Minnal’s ‘Akhada’ for a month to learn wrestling. Ranji had to bulk up for the role of an yesteryear wrestler. Wamiqa took wrestling lessons, but hurt herself badly. This affected our schedule. Otherwise, the shooting went off well,” says Basil.
Having survived the problems caused by demonitisation, the movie soon had a fresh challenge in the form of Dangal. Basil says he was apprehensive about how Dangal would affect Godha. “I began the work of Godha, much before Dangal went on the floors. When it hit the theatres, I was apprehensive about whether people would compare it to Sultan and Dangal. But, seeing the response the teaser garnered, I am relieved. People were tagging it, “Nammude Dangal (our Dangal). It has come as a huge relief,” says the director.
However, Basil clarifies that there is nothing similar in Sultan or Dangal and Godha. “I can vouch for that. Godha is a sports comedy and an entertainer,” says the director.