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Dubai businessman and long-time UAE resident Venu Kunnappilly has been dealing in several industries including auto spare parts, lubricants, textiles and construction. Passionate about films, Kunnappilly now steps into cinema as a producer.

“I was always fond of historical stories, so when the thread of ‘Mamangam’ was narrated, it piqued my interest,” said Kunnappilly.

‘Mamangam’ is his second venture following ‘After Midnight,’ a Hollywood film.

Directed by M Padmakumar, ‘Mamangam’ narrates a little known story from the pages of history and is set in 1695. As the title denotes, it is told against the backdrop of mamangam, a festival held once every 12 years on the banks of the Bharathapuzha in Thirunavaya. It is centred around the legendary Chavers (suicide fighters) of Valluvanadu, who embarked on a mission to kill the Zamorin (the hereditary monarch) during this ongoing festival.

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The screenplay for ‘Mamangam’ was initially written by director Sajeev Pillai and filming began under him.

“But as shooting progressed we found that the quality we had envisaged will not be attained. That’s when we changed the technicians,” said Kunnappilly.

Pillai was replaced by M Padmakumar. Writer-director Shankar Ramakrishna stepped on board as writer for a new adaptation. Tamil director Ram wrote the dialogues and ‘Mamangam’ was reshot under Padmakumar.

Filming was quite a daunting task, especially with little documentation on it, said Kunnappilly.

“We had 2,500 people on the sets all the time. Fight sequences were conducted during the night for two months. Oil lamps used to replicate the past posed risks. We spent almost Rs55 crores [Rs550 million, Dh28.4 million] on its making, excluding the marketing,” said Kunnappilly.

Happy with the final product, he added: “It was what I had visualised. Mammootty plays a mysterious character with multiple looks in the film — something he has not done before.”

‘Mamangam’ releases in the UAE on December 12.