Mohanlal and Amitabh Bachchan, both stalwarts in their own right, share mutual admiration for each other. Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag’s (2007) disaster notwithstanding, they have come back for Major Ravi’s Kandahar, based on the 1999 Indian Airlines flight hijack incident.
Unruffled by the failure of Aag, southern superstar Mohanlal says, "Why should I be disappointed? I am not worried about the success or failure of films. I am passionate about acting. Ramu tried to do something different with Aag. Sometimes films fail. You can’t predict what will work. At the same time, I have worked with him in Company (2007), which went on to become a cult film," he says. In his first Malayalam role, in which he plays a schoolteacher, Bachchan speaks mostly in Hindi throughout the film.
He says, "I am married to a Keraliite in the film and had to speak few lines in Malayalam. I hope my pronunciation is correct. I am honoured that Mohanlal asked me to be part of this film. I have worked with him earlier, and but this was a unique experience."
Bachchan adds, "I shot for 3 days in Ooty and admire the organisation, discipline and management with which Ravi shot the film."
Mohanlal, who has known Bachchan for years, says. “Amitji has watched my films and I have watched his. He watches Malayalam films and is aware of what’s happening in the industry.”
Mohanlal informs that he and Major Ravi first discussed the idea with Bachchan during his Kerala visit and met him again in Mumbai after the script was ready. “Amitji not only agreed to work on the film, but waived his fee entirely,” says Major Ravi who is also playing an Army instructor in the film.
Mohanlal plays commando Major Mahadevan in the film who directs Bachchan’s son Soorya (Ganesh Venkatraman) to use his anger and energy constructively instead of fighting rowdies on the streets. Bachchan, despite his schoolteacher reputation, denies his son a job recommendation. Mohanlal says, “Amitabh Bachchan is my favourite actor. I don’t play his son in the film but in an emotional moment, he tells me not to miss my father as he is there for me.”
Mohanal, who has worked with Major Ravi in Kurukshetra and Kirti Chakra (2008) based on the Kargil war, has an honourary colonel rank in the Army.
For Mohanlal fans waiting to see him in Hindi cinema, the wait won’t be long: “I am acting as a British police officer in Priyadarshan’s Tezz… We shot in Birmingham in UK. I happen to be in the train so it becomes my responsibility to save people. I have done 41 films with Priyan in other languages. This will be my 42nd film.”