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April 13, 2002

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'So what if I'm Mohanlal's son?'

Shobha Warrier

Aother star-son has entered the world of cinema.

Mohanlal with family He is 11 years old and the son of Malayalam superstar Mohanlal. His younger sister, Maya --- exuberant always chattering --- chats about her brother ("Poor Appu, he is always sick"), father ("Don't you know my father? He is Mohanlal"), friends and toys.

Pranav is quiet.

Pranav's cousin Suraj Balaje instilled in him the desire to act in films. Suraj has been acting in ad films and feature films for a while. His major recent release was Asoka in which he acted as Aryan, Kareena Kapoor's kid brother.

After each outing, Suraj would tell Pranav the fun he had and the heroes he met. Finally, Pranav couldn't resist. He confided his desire to his mother Suchitra (actor-producer Balaje's daughter). She was against the idea of her son acting in films at an age when he should be studying. She says, "I tried telling him to study. But he said, 'If Suraj can, why canít I?' Finally, I agreed to let him act in a film during his school holidays. When I told my husband about Pranav's wish, he agreed."

Unlike Suchitra, Mohanlal admitted he had absolutely no objection at all. "Kids may have many such ambitions. If we can help them realise something, what is the problem?"

After hearing Suraj's stories, he was curious to know about films. That was how Pranav acted as young Mohanlal in the film Onnaman, to be released on April 14, for Vishu, the Kerala New Year. Suchitra was with him throughout the shooting of the film, as Pranav wanted his mother near him.

Mohanlal also watched him act. He says, "He just did what he does in real life. Like me, he also doesn't know what acting is all about!" The problem the filmmakers faced was, his actions were extremely fast. Even the way he walked and sat were very fast. Some of the scenes were shot in high speed."

True to his detached nature, Mohanlal was not excited about his son's entry into films. "I am not a father who wants his son to act in films and earn a name for himself. I do not have any such ambitions. Pranav acted because he wanted to. Simple. Somebody asked him, how do you feel being the son of Mohanlal? He said, 'He is my father. Why should I feel great because I am Mohanlal's son?'

"I liked his cool attitude. I only hope that he will remain the same throughout his life.

Suchitra pitches in, "After the first experience, Pranav wanted to have more such experiences, which Suchitra did not favour at all. I told him that you may or may not become as big a star as your father. You need both talent and luck to be a big success. If a profession in films were not to turn out the way he wants, he should have something to fall back upon. So I told him to study and equip himself with a good degree. If he felt like acting even after that, let him do it. But not now. But I do not want him to concentrate on films when he should be studying."

After watching Pranav act in a film, Maya wants to act, too. But Suchitra says, "But she knows I will not let her act now. She told a Malayalam channel recently that she also wants to act in films. But then she said, 'My mother won't let me. She wants us to study'."

So it is study time for both the kids. Suchitra is happy now that Pranav is studying in a school at Ooty, away from the world of films, with only books and studies as his companions.

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