Pranav Mohanlal's debut film as hero will hit the screens on Friday. Directed by Jeethu Joseph, this is a star son launch that will be closely watched by fans of Malayalam cinema.
Mohanlal is widely regarded to be the best actor Kerala has produced and he has won national and international acclaim for his performances. Nearly four decades after he made his debut, Mohanlal is still the king of the box office in Kerala - and he has managed to stay relevant by continuing to do a wide range of roles, from the macho Pulimurugan to middle-aged 'family man' ones as in Drishyam or Munthirivallikal Thalirkumbol.
Younger stars have their own fan-base in the state but they are nowhere close to breaching the actor's popularity or control over the box office. Given this, comparisons to his famous father are inevitable and it is an obstacle that Pranav will have to bravely cross.
Famous last name - advantage or burden?
Dulquer Salmaan, son of Mammootty, the other superstar from Kerala, has been quite successful in coming out of his father's shadow and making a name for himself. But the journey hasn't been easy, as the young actor has said in several interviews - in fact, he was reluctant to come into acting because of the comparisons that will follow.
Dulquer made his debut with Second Show, a multi-starrer, and has since gone on to act in several blockbusters. He has also ventured into Tamil, Telugu and Hindi cinema.
Prithviraj, son of actors Sukumaran and Mallika, is another star son who has made a place for himself in the industry, despite attempts to thwart his growth.
Image courtesy: Kalyani Priyadharshan/Facebook
Keerthy Suresh, daughter of actor Menaka and producer Suresh Kumar, is a popular heroine in the Tamil and Telugu industries. Director Priyadharshan and actor Lissy's daughter Kalyani made her debut with the Telugu film Hello recently and it remains to seen if she will become a sought-after heroine.
Unlike a debut by someone who is not from a film family, the success or failure of a star son or daughter is amplified several times over. Fahadh Faasil, son of ace director Fazil, is regarded as the best actor of his generation by many. In fact, his ability to look completely natural on screen has been compared to what Mohanlal has achieved over the years.
However, when Fahadh made his debut at the age of 19 in Kaiyethum Doorathu, under his father's direction, the film turned out to be a big flop and he was slammed for his performance, too. It took him six years to make a comeback to the industry and a few more to be acknowledged as a talented actor.
Image courtesy: Vineeth and Dhyan Sreenivasan/Facebook
Vineeth Sreenivasan, son of actor, director and scriptwriter Sreenivasan, has had moderate success in his film career thus far. He acts, sings, directs, writes and also produces films. However, he too, has always faced comparisons to his father's work which towers above his. Sreenivasan's younger son, Dhyan, is yet to make an impact in the industry.
Dulquer's friend from childhood, Vijay Yesudas, is another star son who has struggled with constant comparisons to his famous father. Shammi Thilakan, who closely resembles his father, has never managed to win the kind of critical acclaim that father Thilakan got, film after film. Kalidas, son of actors Jayaram and Parvathi, is still struggling to be noticed despite making a splash with a song from Poomaram.
What's riding on Aadhi?
From the outside, having a successful parent in the industry looks like a huge advantage. And it is, in many ways. Producers and directors treat you like a somebody and not a nobody. Then, there's the financial aspect - a superstar has the money to pump into a launch vehicle either openly or covertly. Their established fan-bases are likely to promote the newcomer's film enthusiastically.
However, none of this guarantees success, as several second-generation entrants have discovered across film industries.
Pranav Mohanlal is, of course, not new to the camera. He has worked as a child artist in a couple of films and has also worked as an assistant director to Jeethu Joseph. The director, who helmed the wildly successful Drishyam which was remade in several languages, has been entrusted with the young man's debut film as an adult, and he wouldn't have taken the responsibility lightly.
Image courtesy: Pranav Mohanlal/Facebook
The promos of the film, said to be a thriller, have been promising so far and the release is happening at a good time - a long weekend all over the country. There's no doubt at all that the film will take a good opening, given the young man's last name and Antony Perumbavoor's Aashirvad Cinemas throwing their weight behind it. But after that advantageous head-start, Pranav will have to prove himself to an audience which is likely to nitpick.
Both Mammootty and Dulquer have welcomed Pranav into the industry, wishing him luck publicly for Aadhi. This, even as the Mammootty starrer Streetlights is also releasing on the same day. If Pranav manages to gain a foothold and rises to the top, it will be interesting to see how the box office battles between him and Dulquer - sons of Kerala's most beloved actors - play out.