IT Manager and Film Scriptwriter
By Resmi Jaimon
The booming IT-BPO sector in India has empowered many Techies with creative talents to manifest such skills once they finish their Daytime tech jobs. Meet Vinod Vijayakumaran who works as an IT Manager at blue chip global software giant Oracle and has recently made his debut as a script writer in Mollywood. Vinod credits Sound Engineer RajaKrishnan for giving him a huge break.
Techgoss (TG): You have just made your debut as a scriptwriter in Mollywood. Tell us about your dream journey.
Vinod Vijayakumaran (VV): It has been five years since Vinod Jayakumar and I have started writing our first screenplay. With no mentors or insider knowledge about the industry, we found it really difficult to understand the craft, let alone approaching anyone for a project. It did not help us either that we were located in different cities, pursued corporate careers for a living, and had young families to take care of. We did lot of self-learning through the internet - reading screenplays, books, and finding online collaboration tools to write a screenplay together. Almost everyone in the industry have gone through a crippling struggle to get a break and we were no different.
The divine intervention came when a common friend introduced us to RajaKrishnan - Sound Engineer with Four Frames Studio and son of eminent musician, M.G.Radhakrishnan. He was so benevolent that he referred us to a few filmmakers who were ready to hear what we had to say. It still took us several false starts and a few more years to get the break but his continual altruistic assistance is what has made this possible for us.
TG: Salt Mango Tree is an interesting name. What's the story behind the movie?
VV: Thank you, but the credit for the title is for the Producer and the Director who chose such a befitting name that the Malayalam movie audience could easily identify with.
It is a simple tale on parental aspirations to deliver the best education to their children, narrated with dollops of humor.
TG: What were the challenges you faced during the writing of the story?
VV: The major challenge was to adapt the base story, which deals with a serious social subject, to a commercially viable and humorous version while also avoiding being frivolous.
TG: How would you rate having a co-writer to write a script? Tell us about your co-writer.
VV: I and Vinod Jayakumar were classmates and so were our mothers. We have studied, stayed, and grown up together in Sainik School, Kazhakoottam (Thiruvananthapuram) but have never collaborated or even competed against each other directly, even in such an activity-rich schooling environment we have been nurtured on. Even today, we would find ourselves in the opposite podiums if we are to state our political ideologies, personal philosophies, interpretation of ethics, or even our silver-screen favorites. To have somebody so unlike you as your close friend and co-writer is though, counter-intuitively, empowering. It gives us the balance, insight, and inventory that we would not have had individually.
We both love movies in our own individual ways but the dream, the passion, and the drive to make it big behind the screen is more his than it is mine. Creative inputs may be proportionate but I owe it to him to have made a break into the industry.
TG: Share with us about yourself.
VV: I am an alumni of Saink School, Kazhakoottam and College of Engineering, Trivandrum. I currently work with Oracle Corporation as an IT Manager.
TG: What is the nature of work in your organization?
VV: I work for the Enterprise Operations wing at Oracle India Development Center. I am part of the team responsible for the deployment and support of the Database/Middle Tier infrastructure for the key corporate systems within Oracle.
TG: How supportive are your colleagues, family and friends when it comes to writing?
VV: Two hours of a script is also the result of our families sacrificing two hundred hours of quality time with us. Considering the number of unfinished and unimplemented ones, that kind of support is invaluable. Our Sainik school batchmates. teachers, and the larger school fraternity have been our greatest supporters and motivators even when we had been through very lean periods. We also have several other common as well as individual friends and colleagues who have helped us in this venture directly and indirectly.
TG: Which are your favorite movies and who are your favorite scriptwriters?
VV: There are too many if I have to list them all or else I would not have yearned to emulate them myself. My favorite from Malayalam is T.Damodaran - he is perhaps our only stalwart writer who has never won the state award for the best screenplay. Oru Vadakkan Veeragatha is my favorite movie and again I rate it the highest, also because it has not won the state/national awards for the best film - Isn't that unbelievable?
From other languages, a lot of my favorites are from the works of Vishal Bharadwaj, Billy Wilder, Woody Allen, and Giuseppe Tornatore. I prefer to see a wide range of movies as I get tired of any particular style early.
TG: How do you draw inspiration to write stories?
VV: By retrospecting on those I have enjoyed myself.
TG: Script writing apart, what are your other interests?
VV: To be watching it from the other side of the screen.
TG: What are you working on next?
VV: A thriller.
Photo: Vinod Vijayakumaran and Vinod Jayakumar
Techgoss Note: Resmi Jaimon is a Kerala based freelance writer, who is now keen on exploring visual media through talk shows, food and travel shows. More about her at her website