South Indian director Kamal, who plans to make a biopic on late writer Kamala Surayya, is worried over lead actor Vidya Balan’s delay in associating with the film.
The director said though Balan initially seemed thrilled with the prospect of playing Surayya, a littérateur known for being bold both in writing and speech, she changed the shooting schedule on two occasions – citing inconvenience. Kamal is yet to get a reply from her.
There were reports that certain Hindu outfits warned Balan against taking up the role. A known iconoclast, the writer had embraced Islam in the fag end of her life – ruffling many feathers.
Surayya (1934-2009) was known as Kamala Das before her conversion.
The director, also the chairman of the Kerala Chalachitra Academy, has lately been in the news for all the wrong reasons. During the recently concluded International Film Festival of Kerala, a few members of the audience refused to stand up while the National Anthem was being played. Later, angry RSS and BJP workers sang the Anthem in front of Kamal’s house, alleging that the “anti-nationals” enjoyed his support. BJP state general secretary AN Radhakrishnan even said Kamal could leave the country if he “continued to dishonour the Anthem”.
A staunch critic of Prime Minister Modi, the director has rubbed saffron parties the wrong way on several occasions. However, Kamal said he doesn’t know whether Balan’s volte face has anything to do with the ongoing tirade against him. “I don’t have any proof to buttress this. But if someone clubs these two, he/she can’t be blamed either,” he added.
The director said the idea to make ‘Aami’ simultaneously in Malayalam and English was conceived two years ago, and the actor had agreed to play Surayya’s role. He said he was planning to shoot a section of the movie in Kerala, and rest in Delhi and Mumbai. The biopic was expected to be released next year.
“Vidya told us five days before the start of the shooting on December 19 that she wasn’t prepared. It created a lot of problems for us,” Kamal said. The next communiqué from her office cited the ongoing strike in the Malayalam film industry as the reason for her absence.
“That was not a valid reason at all. The strike hasn’t affected the shooting of any film in the state,” said Kamal.
The director said Balan’s name cropped up the moment the bilingual biopic was conceptualised. “I am still confident about the movie. I am sure the bold actor won’t swayed by pressure, if any,” he said.
The actor, who has acted in acclaimed movies like ‘The Dirty Picture’ and ‘Kahaani’, has her roots in Palakkad, Kerala.
However, a manager of the actor denied reports that she has walked out of Aami. “The dates have been pushed slightly due to the film strike in Kerala, but otherwise everything is moving as planned. Vidya is very much a part of the film, and she doesn’t have any political allegiances,” the manager said over the phone from Mumbai.
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