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The Rediff Interview

A Japanese film starring Mohanlal and Jackie Chan!

July 07, 2008


Albert made his entry into films directing Kanne Madanguka, which won several national and Kerala [Images] state film awards. He also won the prestigious Aravindan Puraskaram for his debut movie. 

Kanne Madanguka talked about how society exploits a hapless young girl who has to shoulder her family's responsibilities.

Now the talented filmmaker is back, this time with a Japanese film on the legendary freedom fighter Nair San starring Mohanlal in the title role and Chinese martial arts expert Jackie Chan [Images].

In this exclusive interview to Meghna George, Albert talks about his most ambitious and prestigious project titled simply Nair San. Over to Albert.

Nair San has many curious facts that connect with India in many ways. It is about the Indian legendary freedom fighter Nair-San (1905-1990) in Japan [Images], who fought for the freedom of Asia and particularly India during the imperialistic supremacy of the British in the early to middle 1900s.

Nair SanNair-San was never hailed much in his own country. He was comparatively unknown compared to bigger names like Rash Behari Bose, Subhash Chandra Bose and Raja Mahendra Pratap. But for his contemporaries, who looked forward to his lone adventitious exploits against the British in Asia, he is a revered icon in the annals of Japanese history and economy.

The Japanese showed their allegiance and respect to him by conferring him with the highest Japanese order of merit, 'The Order of the Sacred Treasure', the most coveted honour of accomplishment for any Japanese citizen.

It was perhaps my commitment to serious cinema that attracted me to the concept and character with this historic uniqueness and relevance.

Actually, Nair San was an exuberant, real character named Ayyapan Pillai Madhavan [Images] Nair, who nurtured a peculiar sense of reasoning to fight the British right from his adolescence to his middle age, irrespective of where he lived or what he pursued as a career. Where can you find such a character in the Indian Independence initiatives where one traveled alone, worked alone and succeeded alone; still the whole world unaware of the character and the magnitudes of his efforts?

Nair San is slated to be a Rs 200 crore magnum opus, a 100 per cent Japanese film to be shot exclusively in Japan, Inner Mongolia and a very small portion in India. This is the first film of its kind perhaps in the history of Indian cinema that we can say is an absolute international film produced by Indians (Morpheus Media Ventures Private Ltd, a production film in Mumbai is the producer). Vaidy S has agreed to be the director of photography while A R Rahman is expected to compose the music.

A wedding photograph of the NairsNair San is enacted on screen by Mohanlal, who has given a colossal 125-day call sheet for the film. He thinks that it is a great opportunity for an actor like him to do the role of Nair San. His father had told him many years ago about Nair-San's daring exploits. In fact, his father had once met Nair-San. 'I'm told that he used to stay in Poojapura, the area where I stay in Thiruvananthapuram,' he quoted Mohanlal as saying.

Another casting coup could be that of Jackie Chan, perhaps the world's most popular action hero who is all set to be part of Nair San in a cameo. After my research and many a visit to Japan in connection, I sent a treatment of the film to Jackie Chan for a cute cut-out role early in January. Within a week's time I got a positive reply saying Jackie Chan liked the idea and his character. Now, he has even agreed to choreograph the fight sequence. The first schedule will be shot in the Inner Mongolian deserts in the first week of September.

In fact, I really feel disheartened to read the many unrealistic versions of stories that keep appearing in the media about Jackie Chan's role in my film and how he was roped into this project. To tell the truth I had contacted him much before his recent visit to India. His association in Nair San is entirely as an actor in a Japanese film which was confirmed almost six months before the media hype about Jackie's visit to India.

I also want to clarify certain facts which were wrongly reported by a section of the media. Nair San, the movie was officially announced at the International Indian Film Festival 2006 in Goa [Images]. Officially I have not given any news regarding the development of the project. In fact, I am waiting to announce the film officially but now am vexed by the many imaginary stories about this film spoiling the official announcement.

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