KOCHI: Putting an end to speculation about who will play the lead role in Aami, the biopic on iconic Kerala writer Kamala Das alias Kamala Surayya alias Madhavikutty, the film’s director Kamal has announced that Manju Warrier will replace Bollywood actress Vidya Balan in the credits.
Vidya Balan stepped out aside from the project, triggering a controversy.
Filmmaker Kamal, who was caught in a National Anthem row during the recent International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK), said Manju Warrier was chosen because she has some character resemblance and some physical similarities with Kamala Das.
"I expect Manju Warrier will easily get under the skin of the character," Kamal told reporters here.
Kamal denied that the controversies related to IFFK had a part in Vidya Balan’s decision to quit the Aami project. "She had informed me about her decision even before IFFK. I learnt later that she told the media that she opted out of Aami due to a few changes in the script. But the script has not changed so far," the director said.
Shooting of the movie was scheduled to commence by November last year but was stalled after Vidya Balan walked out. Kamal said Vidya’s act was highly 'unethical' and 'unprofessional'. He said he was still not sure why the Mumbai actress decided to leave.
According to Kamal, he discussed the script with Vidya Balan for nearly one year. "I met her in Mumbai and arranged a person to read the script to her and make her thorough with the language. She said it was an excellent script. A photo shoot was conducted and costumes were designed as per the character's requirement. Even the cast was decided. However, five days before the commencement of the shoot in Ottapalam, she said she was quitting the film", Kamal said.
She sent an SMS to kamal saying she could not absorb the character.
Kamal doubts that the controversial life of Kamala Das, who converted to Islam in the last years of her life, would have worried Vidya. "Recently, she faced some setbacks in Bollywood. A film in South India during this period may affect her future prospects. This may be a reason for her sudden decision," he said.
"I don't think Manju would quit due to any external threats," the director said.
Aami would be Kamal's third film with Manju Warrier who made a comeback to Mollywood in 2014 after a 14-year hiatus following her marriage to actor Dileep who incidentally started his career in films with Kamal.
The shooting of Aami is scheduled to be held at Ottappalam, Ernakulam, Mumbai and Kolkata and will be completed in three months. Aami is expected to be an Onam