South Indian actor Mammootty in Dubai
South Indian actor Mammootty in Dubai Image Credit: ClintEgbert/GulfNews

South Indian superstar Mammootty, who was in Dubai today to promote his upcoming Malayalam-language cop drama ‘Christopher’, had an interesting theory on why Indian films often fail to court Oscar glory.

“You have to keep in mind that we get a shot only in the Best Foreign Language category and all non-English films enter that race … The filtering in category is fierce,” said Mammootty in Malayalam at a press conference. Even to be considered eligible, there’s a set criteria which is tough to meet.

“At least 6,000 people should have seen your film to be even considered by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and it should be showcased in English-speaking counties like Los Angeles … On top of my head, it was only Roberto Benigni’s ‘Life Is Beautiful’, an Italian actor and Italian film, managed to crack that. It isn’t easy be a non-Hollywood film out there,” said Mammootty.

While Oscars is considered an elusive dream for Indian artists, Mammootty – on of South India’s long-enduring idols - is a force to reckon with among his peers in India. At the press conference in the UAE, he was flanked by his female co-stars including Aishwarya Lekshmi and Sneha, who both described this actor as the greatest living matinee idols. Both were taking turns to be effusive about their admiration for him.

Actress and producer Lekshmy, who was recently seen in the thriller ‘Kumari’ and ‘Gatta Kusthi’, made no bones about it.

Aishwarya Lekshmi
Indian actress Aishwarya Lekshmi promotes her latest film Christopher in Dubai on 2nd February, 2023. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

“It was my ultimate dream to work with Mammootty. I asked for a role in this film so that I could learn from him … And trust me, I learned so much. It was a privilege to work with him,” said actress Aishwarya Lekshmi, who plays a crucial role in ‘Christopher’. She also recounted a scene in the film where she remembers being in awe of his command over his craft.

“It was a scene where my characters asks him if he wanted something hot to drink and he had this expression – a flicker – that was a pure masterclass,” said Lekshmi.

Mammootty, 71, is one of South India’s long-enduring actors and has thrived in Malayalam cinema for over five decades. Last year alone, he had straddled various genres in his releases. While ‘Puzhu’ was a disturbing psychological thriller, ‘Bheeshma Parvam’ saw him channel his inner gangster with admirable swag.

“But there’s no design behind me choosing various genres. It has all happened organically and without any concrete plan,” added Mammootty.

Mammootty in the poster for Bheeshmaparvam
Mammootty in the poster for Bheeshmaparvam Image Credit:

His co-star Lekshmy broke it down for us: “He’s just having a lot of fun now.”

Directed by B Unnikrishnan, ‘Christopher’ is a thriller which will release in the UAE cinemas on February 9.