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The Rediff Interview
Vijay | April 15, 2008
Anwar Rasheed made a dream debut in Malayalam films, with the whopping hit Rajamanikyam. He had gone to the location of the film, which had Mammootty in the lead, to assist the director. Just a day before the shooting started, the director backed out and Anwar was asked to replace him. The rest, as they say, is history.
His next film, Chotta Mumbai with Mohanlal as the hero, did above-average business at the box office. His latest offering Annan Thampi is slated to hit the theatres on April 17. The film has Mammootty playing a double role.
In this exclusive chat, the director talks about Annan Thampi and more.
Mammootty is playing Annan (elder brother) and Thampi (younger brother). Who is the hero among the two?
Thampi is the hero of the film. He is a mute character and quite unlike his hard nut twin brother. He is not a typical film hero -- all brawn and heroics. He is a lead actor in a ballet troupe and lives with his wife in Palakkad.
How did the story of Annan Thampi happen?
We were in search of a role for Mammootty, which he has not done so far. It was he who suggested about the mute character, one that he had not portrayed before.
We then decided to give him a double role (the street-smart twin Annan) as we did not want to disappoint his fans. The twins were born in Palakkad, but had to be separated after their rivalry reached dangerous levels. The mute character grew up with the parents while the other brother was sent to Pollachi.
How difficult was it to present a mute character as the hero?
It was a challenge that we enjoyed. We have presented the character in a different way.
Are you worried about the viewers expecting another Rajamanikyam from you and Mammootty?
It is natural for the viewers to expect that. However, I am not really bothered about such thoughts. My efforts are to make a film, which is quite different from my earlier ones. Or else I would be living under the risk of Rajamanikyam becoming my Sholay [Images], in the sense that I can't make a better film than my first one.
There have been debates on Chotta Mumbai's box office status. Was the film a hit?
Chotta Mumbai had a decent run at the box office and made profits as well. For me, that is the criteria to call the film a hit. There are some who want it to include among flop films, without looking into the actual figures and I don't know the reason for that.
You are relatively a newcomer as a director. But why do you make films only with the superstars?
It's just that the projects happened that way. If things go well, my next film will have newcomers in the lead.
The heroines in your first two films had nothing much to do, besides looking pretty. How different will be it in Annan Thampi?
The heroines got the importance in my earlier films that the story demanded. I am not against them in any way (laughs). There are two heroines -- Gopika and Lakshmi Rai -- in Annan Thampi and their characters have crucial roles in the story.