A bitter director, Kamal, still seems to be looking for closure over actor Vidya Balan walking out of his Malayalam film Aami. Kamal made sexist remarks on Vidya Balan in a recent interview given to Azhimukham.
“Had Vidya played the role, sexuality would have crept in. This was a part even I didn’t pay much attention to,” he said about the Bollywood actor who was the first choice to play poet-iconoclast Madhavikutty, the central character in Aami. Vidya backed out of the film later and has not publicly divulged her reasons so far.
Ironically, Madhavikutty was known for writing boldly and explicitly about female sexuality, which was considered to be (and still is) a taboo topic for women writers.
The director was all praise for Manju Warrier, who is now playing the role, and said, ”The Madhavikutty I had in mind for Vidya is not the Madhavikutty that Manju has brought to life. It was god’s blessing that Vidya backed out from the movie."
Kamal said that he was initially doubtful about Manju’s make-over and transformation into the character.
“But she surprised all of us. Within two days she transformed into Madhavikutty,” he said.
The comparison between the two versatile actors didn't end there. He even went on to say that the film turned out to be better because Manju played the part.
“Manju was able to relate and portray the simple ‘Thrissurkaari’ (woman from Thrissur) that the poet, at heart, was. This resulted in a Madhavikutty that was more like what I had in mind and Manju has definitely been able to do it better than Vidya,” he said.
The delay in casting Manju Warrier as the lead, was according to Kamal, a failure to realise that she would be a better choice.
“After Vidya backed out, we even considered casting a fresh face. However, my producer asked me if we can get Manju. I delayed in asking her as I did not want her to think that she was a second choice. But when I did ask, she was more than happy to do the film,” said Kamal
The actor also specified that he did not have a sense of loss about Vidya withdrawing from the film and that he is more than happy with the results.
The movie, after facing several controversies, is set to release on February 9. The director also believes that "external forces" played a part in creating obstacles while filming Aami.
“As you can easily guess, communal fascists in Kerala have a huge problem with the film, especially the latter part where the poet converts to Islam and becomes Kamala Suraiyya,” he said.
Padma Shri Vidya Balan is a National Film Award winning actor who has starred in several films where she is the main lead. Her last such outing, Tumhari Sulu, won critical acclaim and was also a success at the box-office.