Sajeev Pillai, director of Mammootty’s upcoming film Maamankam, lodged a police complaint following a threat from unknown individuals who he believes has a connection to the film’s production team. The film has now resumed shoot without him.
According to reports, Pillai believes that the threat has come as a result of a meeting between him, his producer Venu Kunnappilly, the Kerala Film Producers’ Association (KFPA) and the Film Employees Federation of Kerala (FEFKA).
About the incident, the director said, “On January 18, a group of men had come in a van and enquired my address at the post office near my place. They told them that I have a property dispute in Angamaly. A postman showed them my house and a few hours later, they called him again saying that I was not at home and they wanted my contact number. He thought there was something fishy and informed me at once.”
Pillai tried contacting the people but to no avail. “I don’t have any property in Angamaly or Ernakulam. So, all this was suspicious, and I wanted to be careful, considering that in the meeting, a person had threatened that they ‘wouldn’t let me work in Malayalam film industry again or let me step in Ernakulam district’. That’s how my father decided to lodge the police complaint.”
According to Pillai, the police had already traced the van to a person who had ties with the film’s production team. “We could find out that the man had ties to the film’s production team. Also, random people coming in a van and enquiring about your house, all of this seemed like ‘sketching’. I don’t see any reason why they would send out a group to verify my address, as the producer’s brother-in-law knows where I live.”
A source from the production team said that they were planning to release a note detailing the incidents that transpired from the start. “We were hoping to avoid this, but Sajeev has pushed us to counter his arguments with proof,” added the source.
Meanwhile, KFPA senior member G Suresh Kumar had a different story to tell. “We had seen the visuals of what Sajeev had shot and it was disappointing, to be frank. Even the film’s editor Sreekar Prasad told me so. I had also asked producer Venu to drop the project but he was adamant to go ahead anyhow as he had already invested close to Rs 13.5 crore.”
He also addressed reports regarding the director’s ouster from the project. “There was a clause in his contract saying the producers could remove him. So, both parties along with KFPA and FEFKA had convened to solve the issue. Venu wanted Sajeev out but we convinced him to have him on board while also bringing in M Padmakumar to finish the film. However, Sajeev was adamant on doing it alone.”
The team has already gone ahead and started shooting the movie without Pillai. M Padmakumar has taken over the directorial duties of the project. “They have started the shoot and I am not part of it. I had requested them to not resume without discussing it with me, but I am not in the loop anymore as they started filming in Kannoth, Kannur. I had also tried calling M Padmakumar but he also isn’t picking my calls,” Pillai added.
Earlier the makers of the movie had terminated actor Dhruvan midway through the shoot. The reason for this was not revealed.
Image Courtesy: Mathrubhoomi