Mammootty on his upcoming film Mamangam: The new generation should know about Kerala’s unsung heroes
Mammootty’s Mamangam is the biggest Malayalam film under production. It is a period action-drama based on the medieval Mamangam festival,
Mammootty’s Mamangam is the biggest Malayalam film under production. It is a period action-drama based on the medieval Mamangam festival, celebrated once in 12 years during the 17th century on the banks of Bharatapuzha, Thirunavaya in Malabar area of Kerala. Legend has it that warriors from different parts of the country would arrive to show their fighting skill in front of the Zamorin who ruled Malabar at that time.
Among the warriors coming from another kingdom is a group known as Chaaverukal pada (suicide squad) led by Mammootty who wants to eliminate the Zamorin. The film set in 1695, showcases a story of a great and also an unknown hero. It also tells the story of a 12-year old boy, who is the youngest Chaaver member taken by his uncle for the mamangam.
Mamangam was in the news when producer Venu Kunnapilly of Kavya Film Company replaced the original director Sanjeev “over creative differences” to bring in noted director M Padmakumar (recently directed the brilliant Joseph) to the project. However Sanjeev is still credited for the story while the screenplay has been done by Shankar Ramakrishnan. Unni Mukundan, Siddique, Prachi Tehlan, Tarun Raj Arora, Kaniha and Anu Sithara are playing key supporting roles. Cinematography is being done by Manoj Pillai with BGM by Sanchit Balhara (Bajirao Mastani, Padmaavat, Manikarnika fame) and music by national award winner M Jayachandran. Action scenes have been choreographed by noted action director Sham Kaushal.
A huge set consisting of a fort, temple and an ancient coliseum for Kalaripayatu (martial arts) costing Rs 10 cr was put up on 20 acres of land near Kochi. The producer Venu says he does not want to talk about the budget of the film as the grandeur and visual will show on the screen. Mamangam will release simultaneously in Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu and Hindi. There is a big buzz in the south Indian trade on the period Malayalam film and some are comparing it with Baahubali. It is third Mammootty Valluvanadan Vadakkan story (a popular genre taken from folklores of Malabar almost similar to Game Of Thrones ) after the huge success of Oru Vadakkan Veeragatha (1989) and Pazhassi Raja (2009). In fact Mammootty got the first of his many national awards for his outstanding performance as Chandu in Oru Vadakkan Veeragatha.
Speaking exclusively to Firstpost from Kochi, Mammootty said, “Mamangam is a content driven period drama. When the script came to me I was impressed with layers in my characterisation, something I have not done before. It is a beautiful script-oriented period drama where I play this mysterious character (man with no name?) who sports various looks and is multi-dimensional. The new generation should know about some of Kerala’s unsung heroes.”
On comparisons being made in the trade with Baahubali, Mammootty said : “Baahubali was a fictional story while Mamangam is based on a true story which is part of Kerala's history. Padmakumar and the producer will try to make it as faithful to the period that it is set in without going for too much VFX or graphics. We are looking at a year end release in 4 languages simultaneously.”
Speaking on the current state of Malayalam cinema, Mammootty said: “ The new age directors and actors have totally changed the way cinema is consumed by the audiences. Their fresh and innovative ideas have brought a brand new perspective to filmmaking both in Malyalam and Tamil. I’m very impressed with the kind of story telling technique and interesting characterisation that has evolved.”
On the kind of cinema he is doing, Mammootty said: “I just don’t want to restrict myself to any particular kind of cinema or genre. My choice of films has been a mixture of popular or commercial cinema and new generation films with different ideas. Take my next release Unda, it is about a group of Kerala policemen going to a tribal area in a Maoist infested forest and how they run in to trouble. I enjoyed doing it because its totally different. I know people like me in both kinds of cinema and I’m happy doing them. I think today what's important for the success of a film depends largely on its content, marketing, release date and luck, too, plays an important role.”