“The person who first called me ‘rajavinte makan’ (son of the king),” remembered Mohanlal in a tweet as he condoled the death of his friend and director Thampi Kannanthanam, who passed away in Kochi on Tuesday. Mohanlal and Kannanthanam share a friendship that goes back a long way when the two shared screen space in the 1982 Malayalam movie Madrasile Mon, directed by J Sasikumar.
Kannanthanam was also the assistant director for the film, which was based on the 1980 Karikkan Villa murder case. “It was a friendship that started then,” Mohanlal told Manorama News in an interview. The two went on to act together in other films, including Attimari, Ustaad and Nirnayam.
“I know him since I started my movie career when he was an assistant director and associate director. We eventually became family friends and even stayed together in Madras. I did a lot of movies that he directed, out of which 95% were superhit movies,” Mohanlal recalled in the interview.
Thampi Kannanthanam’s Rajavinte Makan, in which Mohanlal played the lead character of a crime lord, is hailed as one of the milestone movies in the Malayalam film industry.
Released in 1986, the story follows the rivalry between crime boss Vincent Gomas (Mohanlal) and Kerala Home Minister N Krishnadas (Ratheesh). The film garnered both critical and commercial success. In fact, Rajavinte Makan was considered one of Mohanlal’s first big hits.
Incidentally, the two friends had even harboured a desire to remake Rajavinte Makan, Mohanlal revealed.
“A few years ago, Kannanthanam had expressed his interest in remaking the film; but it remains unfulfilled. We thought about it for years and tried making it a reality after more than 25 years, with the same director and cast. However, due to his ill-health, we had to keep those plans aside,” the actor recounted.
In addition to Rajavinte Makan, Mohanlal has also acted in Kannanthanam-directed movies such as Naadody, Indrajaalam, Bhoomiyile Rajakkanmar and Vazhiyorakazchakal.
In the tweet, Mohanlal also recalled how the filmmaker had been instrumental in launching the acting career of his son Pranav, who made his debut as a child artiste in Kannanthanam’s Onnaman.
“The director who put my son in front of the movie camera and taught him the harisree (alphabet) of acting,” he tweeted.