‘Zachariah Pothan Jeevichiruppundu’. What if a film with such a curious title hit the screens with Mohanlal in the lead role and Ranjith as the director? Whatever the box-office fate, the title would have been adequate to draw huge crowds. The disappointing aspect though is that the hyped project that was announced ten years ago failed to take off.
There are several projects like ‘Zachariah Pothen...’, that did not materialise after the announcement and initial hype. A majority of them belong to Mammootty and Mohanlal. In some cases, even after the song recording was done, the project was dropped. The man taking top honours on this ill-fated list of projects is director Shaji Kailas. After becoming a hit duo with ‘Ekalavyan’ in the early 90s, Shaji Kailas and writer Ranji Panicker announced a project with Mohanlal in 1994. Titled ‘Spirit’, the movie was supposed to be thriller based on the liquor mafia. Later, another project was announced by the trio, ‘Emperor’, but that too did not materialise. Later, Kailas joined hands with Mohanlal for the first time in ‘Aaram Thampuran’ (1997). Though the director had done several movies with the actor, Ranji was yet to pen a Mohanlal starrer for Shaji Kailas.
Shaji had also announced an array of projects with Mammootty. A majority of them failed to take off due to various reasons, mainly on account of mounting production costs. After ‘Narasimham’ (2000), Kailas announced a movie with Mammootty in the lead role. The actor was supposed to portray the role of Nandakumar Marar, the cameo he played in ‘Narasimham’. Renjith was the script writer, but the project fizzled out. The team later got together for ‘Valyettan’. ‘Brand Brahmanand’ was another project announced by Shaji Kailas with Mammootty donning the title role. S N Swamy was the script writer. However, bad luck continued, as financial constraints got the producer backing off.
‘Colonel’ was another curious title announced by Kailas for Mammootty. But after the film was announced in 1998, Priyadarshan came up with ‘Megham’ in which Mammootty portrayed the role of a military officer, hence Shaji dropped his plans. He also announced another movie with Mammootty ‘Iritty Vavachan’, in which the superstar was set to portray a double role. But after a hyped photo shoot and initial buzz, date issues cropped up, and the project was abandoned.
In the early 90s, director Bhadran announced a military story with Mammootty in the lead. Titled ‘Sidhartha’, the film looked like it was progressing well. In fact, the song recording was complete, and the shooting was all set to begin in Rajasthan. However, the requisite security permissions did not come through, and the project was no-go.
Bhadran also announced another film, ‘Souparnikam’ with Mohanalal after the superhit ‘Sphadikam’ (1995). There was yet another movie of his in the pipeline called ‘Ettadi George’ with actor Dileep. However, cash crush delivered a blow to both films.
Even someone as reliably solid as Priyadarshan has faced similar situations. He had announced ‘Dhanushkodi’ in 1989, with Mohanlal and Girija (Geethanjali fame) with quite some fanfare. The film was supposed to be an action thriller, on the lines of their previous hit, ‘Aryan’. But within a few days itself, the crew realised the film was not going to be very financially feasible, and dropped it.
Another movie, ‘Australia’, with Mohanalal in the lead role by Rajeev Anchal too was cancelled after a week’s shoot owning to budget factors. The car race sequences shot for ‘Australia’ later was used in the title scenes of the movie ‘Butterflies’ (1993).
After ‘Kallu Kondoru Pennu’ director Shyamaprasad started pre-production on a Mammootty starrer. Titled ‘Prajapathy’, the movie was based on Malayattoor Ramakrishnan’s novel ‘Anchu Cent’. But the project was abruptly dropped. Likewise, Ranjith’s two projects with Mammootty- ‘Raavu Mayunnu’ and ‘Maram Peyyumbol’ and another one with Mohanlal ‘Daveed Rajavu’ - all fell apart.
Other projects that have got stalled over the years have been ‘Kaala Bazar’, a Suresh Gopi starrer directed by I V Sasi, Joemon - Mammootty team’s ‘Gurudev’, T S Suresh Babu’s ‘Kayal Samrattu’, where Mammootty had a triple role, and the Mohanlal starrer, ‘Karthikathirunal Karthikeyan’.
Director Joshy and writer T Damodaran announced ‘Civilian’ with Mammootty in the mid 90s for Shogun Films. The film that was meant to be a political thriller, however, got dropped. Johnny Antony’s Dileep strarrer ‘Batman’, Mohanlal starrer ‘Ettum Gusthiyum’ and Ranji Panicker’s ‘Lelam-2’ are also in the non-starter’s list.