Director Sajid Yahiya's upcoming film, Mohanlal, which is releasing on Vishu, is about a hardcore Mohanlal fan called Meenukutty (played by Manju Warrier). And because of this, the film is on the most anticipated list of many Mohanlal fans. Express spoke to its director Sajid Yahiya, who had some interesting things to say about celebrity and cinema obsession, along with some crazy and funny anecdotes about a few real-life Mohanlal fans.
First things first. Are you a Lalettan fan or a Mammukka fan?
(Laughs) Well, I like both of them equally. Both are unique in their own way. They have their individual strengths. So I can't say I prefer one over the other. My wife and mother are huge Lalettan fans though.
Did the film's idea come from your own experiences?
Given that hero worship is a universal concept, I thought I would do a film on that. My story was inspired by some real-life stories I had heard. You won't believe the crazy things some Mohanlal fans do. For e.g. there is the story of the woman who did a C-section so that her child's birth date will coincide with that of Mohanlal's. And then there's the story of the housewife who won't cook food if she learns that a newly released Mohanlal film is bad. So, if her husband wants to eat, he has to tell her that the film is good (laughs).
Wow! I've heard of those crazy Rajnikanth fans. But this is something else.
We have fans like that in Kerala too. It's just that we don't hear about them much. In the olden days we didn't have social media. Now a lot of these stories come out in the open and we see some on social media too. My story is based on one such 'crazy' fan.
Why the decision to turn the main character into a female instead of a male?
It's not that I was deliberately trying to do a women-centric film or wanted to specifically target a female audience. All the characters in my story are obsessed with cinema and they're all fans of one actor or the other. The male lead, the husband of Manju's character, is played by Indrajith, and he happens to be a Mohanlal fan too.
Is this a story of someone whose life has been greatly disrupted by their love for cinema?
To an extent. We are talking about a woman who relates everything happening in her life to everything that had happened in Mohanlal's life. She sees Mohanlal wherever she goes. When she sees an auto-rickshaw driver, she sees Sudhi from Aye Auto; when she sees a gunda, she sees Keerikkadan Jose (from Kireedam and Chenkol); and when she sees a gurkha, she sees Ram Singh from Gandhi Nagar 2nd Street. We all relate and connect to cinema in a different way, and we all have our personal reasons for that.
So, in order to get Manju prepared for the role, did you give her a list of Mohanlal movies to watch?
Actually, the story tracks Manju's character beginning from her childhood. She is born when Mohanlal makes his debut in Manjil Virinja Pookkal, and then at different stages of her growth, we show sequences from the significant Mohanlal films that came out at that particular time.
When the trailer came out, some people were commenting that Manju is a bit 'over' in the film. Were you bothered by that response?
Not at all. In fact, our marketing calls her adoration for Mohanlal 'over'. But some people are so jobless. Most of these people making negative remarks have fake accounts. Ask them to show their faces and we'll see how much guts they have to say all this to our face (laughs).