Veteran Malayalam director Vinayan announced his maiden collaboration with Mohanlal recently. Vinayan also shared an artist’s imagination of Mohanlal as the mythical character Ravana. This has spiked the hopes of the fans who were waiting to see Mohanlal’s portrayal of Bheema from MT Vasudevan Nair’s award-winning novel Randamoozham. With that project being shelved, all eyes are now on Vinayan, who is set to approach the actor with a story about Ramayana centred on the king of Lanka.
Vinayan is also working on a sequel to his 1999 horror-comedy, Aakashaganga. The sequel will feature debutante Arathi, as well as Asif Ali, Ramya Krishnan, and Prakash Raj.
Talking to Silverscreen, the director says he is excited about the Mohanlal collaboration. Vinayan said, “I will be meeting with Mohanlal on the 20th for the final round of discussions. He has to give the final nod. But I will be excited if it materializes.”
When asked whether Mohanlal or the story came first, the director talked about the role of the myth in his life. “I have a long-standing relationship with Ramayana. In fact, my fascination for stories and literature could be attributed to the legend itself. It began at the age of five when my mother would recite tales about Lord Rama. I had even written a poem about Ravana during my college days.”
Explaining why it took him 30 years to make a film on the myth, he said, “I had always dreamt about making a movie. But when it came to the cinema, I got caught up in making smaller movies with newcomers in the lead.”
“So I revived the project when Mohanlal expressed interest in working together.
Vinayan states that his movie will not be based on a particular text. “I’ve studied the different versions. I’ll stitch together a story without offending any religious beliefs. However, it will be told through Ravana’s perspective.”
The director believes that the character of Ravana holds great contemporary relevance. “Today, when people label someone as Ravana, seldom do they stop and think about the good side of the king.” Vinayan considers Mahabali the first ‘socialist asura’ and legend has it that Ravana was a direct descendant of the former. “That way Ravana was also a socialist,” he says.
According to him, Ravana dethroned his brother Kubera by fighting for the people. They revolted when Kubera began to levy taxes for water to meet the expenses of his lavish lifestyle. “Which is pretty much the same thing happening now – poor ending up paying for the politicians.”
“Ravana took up the fight against Rama for cutting off his love-struck sister’s nose and breasts. Since when did professing one’s love for a man become a crime? Who can blame a man who stands up for a wronged woman, let alone his sister?” Vinayan attests that back then and even now, wars are fought in the name of women and wealth.
The whole backstory is kept hidden from Rama by none other than Ravana’s power-hungry brother, Vibheeshana. “Getting cheated by one’s own kin is not just a thing of past,” he says. “Thus, the story has a family angle to it too,” he adds.
Vinayan has a clear idea about his Ravana – a manly Asura. “ My Ravana will not possess ten heads and twenty hands. Instead, he will possess the wisdom worth ten brains and the power equalling to ten hands.”
The director says that he couldn’t imagine anyone other than Mohanlal for the part. And the actor’s renowned physicality and flexibility that would’ve come in handy for the action sequences was the least of his priorities. “Many people advised me against casting Mohanlal for the part as the character meets its end at the climax. Who would want to see Mohanlal die at the end, right? But I believe that my movie will be the first to earn claps for the protagonist’s death. And only Mohanlal would be able to bring about such emotions in the viewer.”
With the demand for mythical tales like Baahubali, Randamoozham and Karnan on the rise, Vinayan states that market demand was not on his mind. He says, “I made Athbhuthadweep, a movie about more than 300 dwarfs in 2005. So the fascination for fantasy has always been within me.”
“Of late I have been saying that Mohanlal and Mammootty should devote time for bigger movies even if it comes at the cost of quantity. So when I make a movie with a star, it should do justice to their stature.”
While the Mohanlal film is a while away, the director has been on a location hunt for Aakashaganga 2, the sequel to his 1999 horror comedy. Calling the movie a ‘new-gen horror comedy,’ the director, who is a veteran of the genre has roped in Asif Ali for the project.
The movie, written and directed by him, will go on floors on the 20th of this month. “The original movie had scope for a sequel.” The new movie will be a direct sequel and tells the story of the daughter of the previous protagonist played by Divya Unni.
The 19-year-old daughter, played by the Mumbai based debutant Arathi, is an atheist; She is also the university union chairperson belonging to a progressive party. “How she deals with such supernatural experiences will be one of the interesting aspects of the film,” says Vinayan. The movie, with its romantic track, also talks about a gang of friends studying in a medical college.
The director is excited about having Ramya Krishnan in the film. “Her character is a practitioner of black magic. She is an American returnee and a doctorate holder. She will be sporting a different look and I believe it will be one of her best roles in recent times.” The director adds that he is also in touch with Prakash Raj whose participation depends upon his election commitments,
Siddique, Vishnu Govind, Sreenath Bhasi, Dharmajan Bolgatty and Salim Kumar are also part of the project. The director’s son Vishnu Vinay is also part of the movie.
The movie will be shot at Odappamanna Manna, Palakkad where the original was shot. “Around Rs. 1.5 crores have been set aside for the graphics alone,” the director adds.
The director is conscious of the changes that have come about during the 20 years. “If the technology presents itself as a positive change, we also have challenges in the form of presentation that demands novelty. But, I am confident about delivering an entertainer.” The director believes that people are increasingly harking back to superstitions providing ample feasibility commercially for the project.
Prakash Kutty is the cinematographer while music for the movie will be composed by Bijibal. The movie is slated to release during Onam.
Feature image courtesy Vinayan’s Fb