Strangers call director Vysakh and say, “I want to kiss you. Thank you for giving us such a varied fare of Mohanlal.”In the man versus tiger film Pulimurugan, Mohanlal displays his histrionics in fun sequences, as a hero, a tiger hunter and family man. “He is emotional and loving, he cries and fights courageously,”
At his villa in Kochi, Vysakh is elated. Pulimurugan is slated to cross the `100-crore mark at the box office, a first in Mollywood history. What will help is the October 21 release of the film in Telugu.
“Pulimurugan is a turning point in the Malayalam film industry in terms of box office receipts,” says director
B Unnikrishnan. “The market has expanded to other states in India and to the US and Europe.”
The reason for Pulimurugan’s success? “A good script (by Udayakrishna), Mohanlal sir’s acting genius, smart marketing and never-before-seen action sequences,” says Vysakh.
The action sequences and animation graphics are the USP of the film. When Vysakh researched on man versus tiger fights, he initially didn’t find any in world cinema. “There are many tiger movies, like The Taking Of Tiger Mountain, Two Brothers, Life of Pi and The Jungle Book, but there is no direct fight between man and tiger. We had to work hard to make it a believable action sequence. We did drawings and created story boards.”
Vysakh roped in Puducherry-born action choreographer Peter Hein, who has worked on blockbusters such as Sivaji, Enthiran, Ghajini and Baahubali.
To get a better idea of tigers and their mannerisms, Peter, Vysakh and members of the crew spent three weeks in Vietnam. “We saw 140 tigers on a farm owned by a Member of Parliament,” says Vysakh. “They were wild animals in cages. Mohanlal sir was with us for some time.”
Vysakh has always been a painstaking director. And thanks to Pulimurugan, he has embellished his resumé. All his films—starting with his debut Pokkiri Raja (2010), followed by Seniors, Mallu Singh and Sound Thoma—have done well at the box office.He now feels a burden and an unexpected pressure. “I am now thinking about how to top Pulimurugan,” he says.