15 years of Company: Working with Ram Gopal Varma was an ‘honour’ for Mohan Lal
Malayalam actor Mohan Lal recalls why he chose Company (2002) as his first Bollywood project and talks about why he didn’t do many Bollywood films.Updated: Apr 14, 2017 18:37 IST
Actor Mohan Lal is a big name in the Indian film industry, thanks to his contribution to Malayalam cinema. Every Bollywood fan adored his acting skills in the 2002 film, Company, where the 56-year-old actor played the role of Veerapalli Srinivasan IPS — the man instrumental behind the downfall of the gang led by Malik (Ajay Devgn) and Chandu (Vivek Oberoi). As the film completes 15 years today, we spoke to the legendary actor, and he talked about his experience in Bollywood. Excerpts:
Company was your first Bollywood film. What made you say Yes to it?
For me, the script is very important and it highlighted Indian underworld deftly. Besides that, to be invited by one of the fountain head of the new age Indian Cinema (Ram Gopal Varma) in those days was an honour, which every actor was keen to be part of and looked forward to. I just couldn’t say a no to it.
The film went on to became a cult classic, and your role was appreciated a lot. Did you ever expect it to do so well?
After the completion of the film, I knew it was something different from the rest that we had seen in the past, and it surpassed all my expectations. I was very happy with the response it received, especially in the northern belt.
How was it working with the likes of Ajay Devgn and Vivek Oberoi — one an established actor, and the other just starting out?
I have fond memories of Ajay and Vivek, they were professionals to the core and I was very happy to be co-starring with them. At times their acting prowess and their dialogue deliveries raised my benchmark and acting skills. More than that, I think RGV provided us enough space and stimulated us to give our best.
What are your memories of shooting for the film?
In a career spanning over 35 years, all films that I have been fortunate to do have left me with good memories and I would like to keep it that way. RGV is one of a kind, his success broke all the existing norms prevalent in the Indian cinema. All I can say is that I would love to do another film with him, something different.
Despite winning rave reviews for your performance, you didn’t feature in many Bollywood films after that. Why?
There is no particular reason as such. It is not that I kept away or that nothing good came through in the form of a ‘ right script’ . Non- availability of my dates was one reason . I was unable to give a commitment. I’m very eager to work and be part of a wider screen, let’s hope something good comes my way where it is win -win situation for both.
- The scene where a Bollywood director is shown on his set is clearly a parody of Karan Johar and his film Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham... (2001).
- Story loosely based on the rift between real life dons Dawood Ibrahim and his protege Chhota Rajan. Mohanlal’s character based on Real Life Police Commisioner of Bombay Dhanushkodi Sivanandan.
- Vivek Oberoi’ is wearing special makeup in the film which makes his complexion several shades darker than it really is.
- Ram Gopal Varma once admitted in an interview that he was inspired by the 1980 release Kalyug starring Shashi Kapoor and Rekha.
- Nana Patekar was signed for Ajay Devgan’s role but opted out.
- Ram Gopal Varma wanted to do a film with actor Mohanlal. As a fan of Lal, when the part of police officer Srinivasan came along, Varma initially approached him to do the part.
- The theme music played throughout the movie is also used in Ram Gopal’s later Sarkaar and Sarkaar Raaj. All three movies are based on parallel governments running in Mumbai.
- Manoj Bajpayee was offered the role of Malik but declined due to date issues.
- British filmmaker Danny Boyle admitted that Company (and Satya) was , in a way, helped him understand the real picture of Mumbai for his 8 Oscar winning film Slumdog Millionaire (2008), as most of the Big budget Bollywood only portray the fictional, unrealistic urbane Mumbai.
- Rinke Khanna was the original choice for Saroja.
- Ram Gopal Varma originally wanted to make a crime themed film with newcomers, at that time he had a meeting with actor Ajay Devgn, his strong and silent personality really moved Ram Gopal Varma, which made him to cast Ajay as an underworld don and initiated the story thread for this movie.
- Malayalam film actor Mohanlal’s first Hindi movie. Actor Vivek Oberoi’s debut movie.Source: IMDb
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