The photo or the post need not have surprised anyone – a director and a major actor coming together to do a film. But the people in the photo – director Vinayan and actor Mohanlal – had not, at least in the public eye, been the best of friends for decades. Ever since Vinayan took a movie called Superstar with a Mohanlal look alike in the lead back in 1991, and through the years, when the director famously had feuds with the Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes (AMMA), and the Federation Employees Federation of Kerala (FEFKA), he has been known to be a rebel.
“But those were all issue-based differences. I never had a personal vengeance against Mohanlal,” Vinayan tells TNM. What changed now, the director says, is Mohanlal becoming the president of AMMA last year.
“I felt that if he becomes president a lot of positive things can happen. He is a man who enjoys a certain position in Malayalam cinema, a man at the top who does not need to be partial to anyone in particular or harbour any prejudices,” Vinayan says.
It is true that Mohanlal had been silent when a lot of the issues involving Vinayan had happened, the director agrees. And three years ago, when there was a condolence meeting for late actor Kalabhavan Mani, it was reported that Mohanlal would not take part in the event if Vinayan was there. The latter brushes it off now as an association-driven issue. “I had differences with FEFKA. And AMMA and actors sometimes would have been forced to say ‘no to Vinayan’ under pressure.”
Vinayan says he mostly like to experiment with newcomers, but reminds you that he has taken two films with Mammootty in the lead. “It was in the set of Mammootty starrer Rakshasa Rajavu that I do the photo shoot of Jayasurya (who would then make his debut in Vinayan’s Oomapenninu Uriyadappayyan). I like working with newcomers, like I did with Jayasuyra, Kalabhavan Mani and Dileep before he came a superstar.” Prithviraj too had a row of Vinayan films in his early days, establishing him as an action hero.
But when Vinayan became too vocal about his differences with film associations, he was banned from them, and actors were asked not to work with him. Late actor Thilakan who didn’t bother about such bans and worked with Vinayan, had to face the wrath of the associations.
Keeping all that aside, Vinayan says when he lives in the same time as such a legendary actor as Mohanlal, he would of course like to work with him. “It took time because of all these issues in the past. But even with your differences on issues, you can still come together to work. And even now if there are any ideological differences with anyone, I wouldn’t hesitate to speak out,” he says. He had also been vocal about his support to the Women in Cinema Collective, an organization that has not been on the best of terms with AMMA or its leaders.
The film with Mohanlal would start next year, Vinayan presumes. The actor has a few commitments to meet, Vinayan too would soon start work on his sequel to Akashaganga, a horror film that released in 1999.