Director of ‘No. 20 Madras Mail’ reveals Mammootty was not part of original cast

In an interview with 'Vanitha', director Joshiy said that Mammootty came on board ‘No. 20 Madras Mail’ because of Mohanlal.
Still of Mammootty and Mohanlal from the movie
Still of Mammootty and Mohanlal from the movie
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No. 20 Madras Mail (1990) is a rare Malayalam movie, in that actor Mammootty’s role in it was to play the character ‘actor Mammootty’. It has been 30 years since this Mohanlal-Mammootty starrer hit the silver screen, but the film doesn’t fail to make the viewers chuckle, be it from the famous ‘Tony Kutta’ song, or those moments where Mohanlal’s ‘inebriated’ character tries to impress ‘actor Mammootty’.

Indeed, the combination of the two prominent actors had its hand in the movie’s success. However, Mammootty was not in the original cast when shooting for the film started. In an interview with Vanitha, a Malayalam women’s magazine, director Joshiy revealed that Mammootty was cast because Mohanlal said his name in the place of an undecided "prominent actor’s” name, during the time of shoot.

“It was the scenes in the second half of the movie which we started to shoot first. The scenes showed Mohanlal, Maniyanpilla Raju and Jagadish escaping from their hideout hotel when their photos are shown in television as murder accused. They had to say the name of a prominent film actor who they met on the train. But at that point we hadn’t decided who that actor should be. While shooting the scene, Mohanlal said Mammootty’s name,” said Joshiy.

Since Mammootty’s name was said without his permission and it was uncertain whether he would agree to act in the film, Joshiy recalled that he was not happy with Mohanlal using Mammootty’s name.

However, Mohanlal was confident that Mammootty would act in the film, according to Joshiy. Mammootty, who was in the United States when No.20 Madras Mail’s shoot started, came to act in the film upon his return.

As per the initial script, Mammootty had a guest role which should have ended when the train reached Madras, but it was modified so that Mammootty’s role was extended to the second half of the film.

Joshiy also recalled how Mammootty was initially doubtful about whether it would be appropriate for him to appear as ‘actor Mammootty’ in the film. “After I pacified him, he did not ask anything again. I think that was because of the affection and trust he had in me. I am still indebted to him for that,” Joshiy added.

Watch comedy scenes from the movie:

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