Director Satyan Anthikad is a happy man these days as his latest Malayalam film Rasathantram, a light comedy starring his favourite actor Mohanlal, has completed 75 days in theatres.
Rasathantram is touted as one of the biggest hits of 2006 and the director, who had teamed up with Mohanlal after 12 years, says he was not bothered by people's expectations.
"I chose not to think about people's expectations. If I were to think about them, I would have had to bear a lot of pressure," Anthikad said.
He agrees Mohanlal's physical appearance has changed a lot but insists his talent remains the same.
"He has not lost the naughtiness that was his uniqueness when he was young. I wrote the script thinking of his age but I did not even consider his image.
"Today, his image is different from what it was when we did films together. He has become a superhero. But I felt even today people would prefer Mohanlal of the eighties," said Anthikad who wants to make more films with Mohanlal.
Excerpts of the interview:
You were making a film with Mohanlal after a gap of 12 years. The films you have made together earlier were smash hits and people expect a lot from your combination. Did these thoughts bother you while making Rasathantram?
I chose not to think about people's expectations. If I were to think about them, I would have had to bear a lot of pressure. I just put myself in audience's shoes and thought, 'What would I expect if Mohanlal and Satyan Anthikad were to come together after 12 years?'
Of the films we have done together, my favourites were Sanmanassullavarku Samadhanam, Nadodikkattu where Lal is little naughty.
In last 12 years Mohanlal hasn't got younger - he is in his mid-forties.
There may be physical changes but his talent remains the same. Similarly, he has not lost the naughtiness that was his uniqueness when he was young. I wrote the script thinking of his age but I did not even consider his image.
Today, his image is different from what it was when we did films together. He has become a superhero. But I felt even today people would prefer Mohanlal of the eighties.
Didn't people ask you why you two didn't work for 12 years?
Of course, wherever I went, people would ask me the same question. Actually, many thought we were not on talking terms. What happened was, when Lal was working with me he was not a superstar but, when he became one, many people wanted to make films with him.
I saw people vying with each other to get his dates. As a good friend I decided to make way for them. I chose to make films with others.
When you chose to have Meera Jasmine, a young girl, opposite Mohanlal, didn't you feel they might be mismatched?
I did not think of age at all. I was only looking at them as two talented artists. I feel Meera is one of the most talented heroines in India. And, Mohanlal is undoubtedly one of the most talented actors in India. So, their combination, I felt, would be deadly. I was not planning a love story.
How exciting was having three national award-winners - Mohanlal, Bharat Gopi and Meera - in your film?
As a filmmaker, it was one of the happiest and most satisfying experiences in my life. I enjoyed it thoroughly. These three are so natural that you will not feel that they are acting. Their performance is subtle and gentle.
It was either Nedumudi Venu or Innocent or Thilakan who had been playing Mohanlal's father in other films. How did you think of Bharat Gopi?
Bharat Gopi was doing a full-length role after a gap of 20 years. I would call it destiny.
I couldn't attend his daughter's wedding so, I went to his house to apologise and he himself opened the door. I knew he had had a paralytic attack and not been keeping well hadn't met him for a long time.
We sat down and spoke for a long time. We also talked about the film Appunni, which we had done together. I was at that time confused about whom to cast as Mohanlal's father in Rasathantram. I asked Gopi whether he would do a full-length role. He said he hadn't had enough of acting in my films. And, what a wonderful choice I made.
Did you expect Rasathantram to be such a huge success?
When you make a film, you do it with the hope of achieving success. But, frankly, I did not expect it to be such a big success. I like always to show the warmth and love that all human beings have, and I think people like to see such films. I believe in the goodness that is there in all human beings.
Will you make films with Mohanlal again?
Of course and that too without such a huge gap.
But is there not a missing link in this combination - Srinivasan?
Yes, I know. But we will definitely come together again!