It’s the right time to make more realistic films in Malayalam, says ‘Kannur Squad’ co-writer Muhammed Shafi

In conversation with South First, Muhammed Shafi talks about the writing process of 'Kannur Squad', its success, and the new-age audience.

ByArjun Ramachandran

Published Oct 13, 2023 | 12:32 PMUpdatedOct 13, 2023 | 2:41 PM

Kannur Squad co-writer Muhammed Shafi

Mammootty’s latest flick Kannur Squad has become a phenomenal success after its release on 28 September.

Directed by debutant Roby Varghese Raj, the movie is based on the special police team of the same name formed by the Superintendent of Police (Kannur district).

The film is scripted by Muhammed Shafi and Rony David Raj. Rony also played the role of Jayamohan in the flick.

In an exclusive chat with South First, scriptwriter Muhammed Shafi talks about the writing process of Kannur Squad, its success, and the new-age audience.

Inspired by a news article

Muhammed Shafi read an article in Malayala Manorama about the real Kannur Squad and shared it with Rony David Raj.

Mammootty and Muhammed Shafi Kannur Squad

Mammootty and Muhammed Shafi on the sets of ‘Kannur Squad’. (Supplied)

“The article carried a basic intro about the police team, the cases they solved, and their investigative experiences. After reading it, we thought we could make a film out of it. Also, there was a freshness in the concept because the squad was named after a district,” said Muhammed Shafi.

Muhammed Shafi and Rony contacted the police officers and got the inputs. “We gathered their experiences and penned a script. However, it wasn’t up to the mark. So, we rewrote it. Mammootty Sir was our first option. He said he liked the story and that he would produce it too,” the writer recollected.

Muhammed Shafi and Rony adopted a give-and-take policy in the writing process. “I made the story structure. We added more inputs to the screenplay and took only what was needed.”

Shafi explained, “We have had our share of arguments. But they only helped us write a taut script and bring out a good movie. Our ultimate aim was to give a good output.”

While the real Kannur Squad had nine members, the real version had only four since it was not possible to include nine persons on the screen. “The nine-member Kannur Squad had an A team and a B team. We took the story of A team for the movie. Well, it was easier to write the screenplay for a four-member squad,” he shrugged.

Related: Mammootty’s ‘Kannur Squad’ is both realistic and cinematic

Inspired events: Shafi

Kannur Squad is directed by debutant Roby Varghese Raj

‘Kannur Squad’ is directed by debutant Roby Varghese Raj. (Supplied)

According to Muhammed Shafi, 80 percent of the events in Kannur Squad are inspired (not real) and the rest of 20 percent are cinematic.

Also, the writers used to call up the cops to seek suggestions about including certain elements in the film.

“We wanted to include elements like the emotional angle of policemen to engage the audience. When we asked the police officials, they were okay with it. They were happy with the output and their family members enjoyed the movie,” said Muhammed Shafi, highly satisfied with their work.

The writer revealed that the original Kannur Squad was approached by other filmmakers but in vain.

Guess what? Shafi approached his father, who retired as a sub-inspector of police, for important inputs like the police procedures and other technicalities.

Related: Real ‘Kannur Squad’ watches Mammootty’s reel version in Kochi

‘Didn’t expect it to be a massive hit’

Muhammed Shafi wrote the script along with Rony David Raj

Muhammed Shafi wrote the script along with Rony David Raj. (Supplied)

Both the writers were part of the shooting. “Mammootty Sir used to check with us before filming every scene. I used to give him the script of the scenes to be shot that particular day. Later, director Roby used to brief the actors on the sets,” Muhammed Shafi recalled.

When asked about the Tikri village (Uttar Pradesh) fight sequence in the movie, the scriptwriter replied that it was shot for 10 continuous days.

“The whole crew gave their best to perfectly picturise the fight sequence. We also had a five-day shoot in Kerala for other action scenes. Well, it was all worth it!”

While Shafi is really happy with the success of Kannur Squad, he admits that he didn’t expect the film to be a massive hit.

He also observed that the success of the Mammootty-starrer doubled up his responsibility to deliver similar hits in future.

The young writer noted that today’s audience is more advanced and even filmmakers are trying to be realistic. This is the right time for filmmakers to come up with more realistic movies in Malayalam.

When asked about the violence in Kannur Squad, Muhammed Shafi opined that the content demanded it. “We didn’t want to include violence per se. I might do comedy, feel-good, or romantic films in future. There is no scope for violence in such content but Kannur Squad did. After all, it’s a cop drama,” he elucidated.

Before signing off, the scriptwriter thanked the family audience for welcoming Kannur Squad. However, he cautioned them against taking their kids to theatres to watch such action flicks as “violence is highly influential”.

Related: It’s a journey accomplished for ‘Kannur Squad’ makers — Roby-Rony