Pan-Indian release for Gaganachari: The Arun Chandu film opens doors to a new genre and a new form of entertainment

The sci-fi mockumentary entered third week of its theatrical run and is soon getting a spin-off, 'Maniyan Chittappan'.

ByArjun Ramachandran

Published Jul 05, 2024 | 4:57 PM Updated Jul 05, 2024 | 4:57 PM

Gaganachari gets pan-Indian release on 5 July

Malayalee audiences know no restrictions; be it in language, genre, or trend. They are equally receptive to a Bollywood commercial film like Jawan (2023) or a Tamil mass entertainer like Maharaja (2024) as they are to Malayalam movies.

At a time when Malayalam cinema is raking in the moolah with successive blockbusters, in the first half of 2024, young director Arun Chandu has come up with an interesting project—Gaganachari.

The science-fiction mockumentary saw a limited theatrical release on 21 June. However, it received a tremendous response from the audience and critics alike.

Gaganachari has now entered the third week and is still running to packed houses across Kerala. Given the overwhelming demand it garnered since its release, the makers announced a pan-Indian release for the film on Friday, 5 July.

Also, the unbelievable success of the movie prompted director Arun Chandu to come up with a spin-off film, Maniyan Chittappan. The spin-off will revolve around a “crazy, mad scientist” played by Suresh Gopi and fall under the Gaganachari universe.

Related: Exclusive interview with Gaganachari director Arun Chandu

Malayalam cinema gets a new genre

A collage of stills from the sci-fi mockumentary

A collage of stills from the sci-fi mockumentary. (X)

Through Gaganachari, Arun Chandu introduced a new genre to the Malayali audience—sci-fi mockumentary. The film is set in the 2040s in a dystopian Kerala by which time protests rock the state.

The government bans petrol vehicles and mandates the use of electric vehicles since petrol has become a rarity. Further, everyone is under strict electronic surveillance.

Gaganachari begins with a group of youngsters prepping to film a documentary on Victor Vasudevan (Ganesh Kumar), a renowned scientist who studies alien invasion and related topics.

He lives in a bunker with Allan and Vaibhav (played by Gokul Suresh and Aju Varghese respectively). Allan is a cinephile, while Vaibhav is a playboy.

The story moves forward while taking the viewers on a journey to the fantasy world created by the director and keeping them engaged with the happenings.

The film gets a major twist when an alien named Aliamma, played by Anarkali Marikar, enters the lives of Victor, Allan, and Vaibhav. The events that follow take the audience on a hilarious ride.

Aliamma can’t speak, and the trio has a tough time communicating with the former and finding the reason for her visit to Earth. Meanwhile, a right-wing outfit named Araya Sena, which is keen to impose moral codes, adds to their woes.

A senior Malayalam actor lent her voice to the alien (Aliamma), who eventually learns the language and communicates. I must say, the actor’s voice and modulation are apt.

A still from Arun Chandu's Gaganachari

A still from Arun Chandu’s ‘Gaganachari’. (X)

Arun Chandu cleverly incorporates the pop-culture and murals into the story, which add value to the happenings on screen.

Gaganachari also makes references to everyday life and gives them a funny twist. For instance, synthetic “geef”, which has been gaining popularity in Kerala of late, replaces beef in the dystopian world.

The movie is pretty vocal about climate change and refers to several old films that play an important role in the plot. Besides, the director uses an AI voice assistant, which sounds similar to a popular travel host in Malayalam.

In an interview with South First, Arun Chandu said Gaganachari was inspired by the American comedy horror mockumentary television series What We Do in the Shadows (2015) and Satyajit Ray’s Shatranj Ke Khilari (1977).

He also revealed that the murals in the film were inspired by the American animated musical romantic comedy-drama film Sita Sings the Blues (2008).

The filmmaker further added that Gaganachari pays homage to many films through some element or the other, which he incorporated into the story.

Related: Maniyan Chittappan, Gaganachari spin-off announced

Boasts perfect casting

Coming to performances, veteran actor Ganesh Kumar plays a scientist for the first time in his career, spanning over 30 years. The actor effortlessly pulls off the comedy scenes.

On the other hand, Gokul Suresh shines in the role of Allan, a cineaste. Allan longs for a girlfriend and sees one in the alien. His romantic encounters with Aliamma leave the audience in splits.

Aju Varghese does justice to the role of Vaibhav. He proved his mettle in many comedy films earlier.

Ganesh Kumar, Gokul Suresh, and Aju Varghese’s combo works wonders in theatres.

Anarkali Marikar wins hearts as alien Aliamma. Her encounters with human beings have been written rafted and executed well.

On the technical front, Gaganachari boasts an amazing VFX done by Meraki. Despite the limited budget, Meraki has done a brilliant job in creating the fight scenes involving the alien, the spaceship, the unidentified flying objects (UFOs), and the space setting—all through VFX.

The setting of cats and their world is another area where the VFX team deserves praise. Kochi’s Kaloor Stadium in the 2040s has been showcased in a way that nobody can even imagine, all thanks to Meraki.

Indeed, in his interview, Arun Chandu told South First that Meraki has been a part of his core team.

Sankar Sharma’s music and Surjit S Pai’s cinematography also contributed a lot to Gaganachari.

(Edited by Y Krishna Jyothi)

(South First is now on WhatsApp and Telegram)

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