When was the last time that Malayalam superstar Mohanlal tried something for the first time?
Tonight on February 18, the Indian National Award-winning actor with 445 films to his name will be armed with a concrete answer. It’s the first time in his career that a matinee idol such as himself, with incredible box office power, will premiere his new thriller ‘Drishyam 2’ directly to a web platform.
But that’s the extent of the leap he’s willing to take.
Unlike Bollywood stars such as Hrithik Roshan, Saif Ali Khan and Abhishek Bachchan, who are widening their scope as actors by acting in web series apart from films, Mohanlal isn’t sold on the idea of leading a web series.
“I am more into movies. We have our production house but we have never thought of a Malayalam web series. Malayalam entertainment industry is a small entity. I don’t have any plans for a web show now,” said Mohanlal over a Zoom video call.
We are only a few hours away from the premiere of director Jeethu Joseph’s second instalment of his 2013 blockbuster, but Mohanlal claims that the decision to forego the traditional theatrical release wasn’t deliberate.
“We never planned to release ‘Drishyam 2’ in OTT. It just happened because of COVID-19. Even now, our theatres are not properly running. Had it been fully open, then this is one movie which would have brought our audiences back in … This is one movie, where the audience would have come because they want to know what happened to Georgekutty and family … But what happened is theatres in our state is a big question mark,” he said.
While cinemas were shut last year, the doors opened with several restrictions on occupancy in Kerala due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We just wanted Malayalis in the entire world to know what happened to Georgekutty’s family and so when we got a good chance to release in an OTT platform, we took it. I am OK with it … Now the entire world can watch our film with just a click of a button,” said Mohanlal.
‘Drishyam’, a riveting murder mystery about a middle-class family guy Georgekutty going to great lengths to cover up a crime committed by his teenage daughter, was one of Malayalam cinema’s most engaging thrillers. One of 2013’s highest-grossing films, it was also remade in Hindi with Ajay Devgn and in Tamil with Kamal Haasan.
“It was also the first Indian movie to be remade in Chinese … There were so many feathers [in our cap],” points out Mohanlal with pride. It was a movie that chronicled a doting father’s quest to protect his loved ones with all his might. The movie was also a crash course on how to get away with murder.
“‘Drishyam’ is a movie about bonding, love and emotions at its core. The crime was nobody’s fault because Georgekutty had to protect his family at all costs. It’s every father’s right to protect their family … He’s a common man, but he’s got uncommon intelligence when his family is at risk,” said Mohanlal.
While the film was celebrated for its exciting storyline, there was a section of critics and viewers who felt ‘Drishyam’ glorified and venerated a hero getting away with a heinous crime by outwitting the police force. But Mohanlal doesn’t buy into their theory.
“Cinema is make-believe and it’s a fictional story of a person called Georgekutty who stays in a small village and how he uses his intelligence and sharp wits to save his family. It’s just brilliant storytelling. Also, ‘Drishyam’ wouldn’t have so successful if many people believed that we were wrong in doing so,” he said. “There are many movies where a hero outwits the police or walks scot-free.”
Don’t miss it!
‘Drishyam 2’ is streaming on Amazon Prime Video starting February 18
“I don’t know whether to call my journey in films as some kind of luck or ‘niyogam’ [fate]. I don’t if it’s all happening by design or if somebody is guiding me. My success is about getting good scripts, my colleagues, my audience … My success is an amalgamation of so many things working out for me.” — Mohanlal on his four decade journey in films.
Mohanlal on surviving the pandemic...
“For me it was like a holiday where I am sitting in my home. I was always connected to co-stars and used to call them enquiring about their well-being. I know there will soon come a time when I have to sit back at home and enjoy my solitude. I am prepared for it now … I am always happy and content.”