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With Onam, Kerala’s harvest festival, around the corner, plenty of big star releases are ready. Leading the way on August 29 (out September 4 in the UAE) is Mohanlal’s Peruchazhi. And the week after, amid Onam sadya celebrations, Kerala will rock with box office wars, when Mammootty’s Rajadhi Raja, Dileep’s Villali Veeran, Kunchako Boban’s Bhaiya Bhaiya and Prithviraj’s Sapthamashree Thaskaraha will hit screens.

Looks like a heady cocktail is on the cards this September. Now, which Malayali would not want a taste of this?’

tabloid! caught up with Arun Vaidyanathan, director of Peruchazhi.

“It is a spoof and a political satire on the two largest democracies of the world,” Vaidyanathan says.

Mohanlal plays an upcoming Keralan politician, Jagannathan, whose crooked activities earn him the nickname peruchazhi (bandicoot). Jagannathan and his two friends (played by Baburaj and Aju Verghese) are on a mission to get to the US.

“You could call him a gentle Chanakya,” adds Vaidyanathan with a smile. His debut was the critically acclaimed Tamil film Achchamundu Achchamundu. This is his first in Malayalam.

Mukesh plays another politician, Francis Kunjappan. The highlight of the story is the feud between Jagannathan and Kunjappan.

“It is a humorous narrative and a complete family entertainer.”

Calling Mohanlal a director’s delight, he says. “He is a no-fuss person and a stickler for punctuality. And when he had suggestions on improvising any scene, he discussed it with me and would only incorporate it after my approval. Lal sir always told me, ‘I am a just a tool, you are the one who is painting the picture’. So I was able to get exactly what I had in mind.”

Since the story is set in the US, a large portion was filmed in California. Overcoming visa formalities for a large crew, getting permission in the US and managing a crew that had a mix of Americans and Indians were some of the roadblocks faced by the filmmaker.

Vaidyanathan, who has written the story with Ajayan Venugopalan, found the spark for his script during his stay in the US, when he happened to watch a debate between two political leaders on television.

“It was fun and something unheard of in India. I thought that would make an interesting script.”

Vaidyanathan appreciates Malayalam actors for their natural performance.

“Every actor’s character follows an arc and is significant to the story. And no one went over the top with their performance.”

Bollywood’s Ragini Nandwani plays Jagannathan’s love interest. Poonam Bajwa has done an item number. Other members of the cast include Shankar Ramakrishnan, Delhi Ganesh and the two producers Vijay Babu and Sandra Thomas.

Arvind Krishna is the cinematographer. Arrora has scored music.