Padmashree Bharat Lt Colonel Mohanlal.
This title does not belong to a forthcoming film nor is it a figment of imagination. It is a fact. In a month, the nation will confer 48-year-old Malayalam actor, Mohanlal, with the honorary title of Lieutenant Colonel in the Territorial Army.
Mohanlal will be the first actor in the country to get such a prestigious title from the army. The only other celebrity to get this title is former cricket captain Kapil Dev.
It is learnt that the chief of army recommended Mohanlal's name to the Defence Ministry. An official MoD communique is expected in a month.
"The proposal has been forwarded. A decision will be taken soon. I cannot reveal the details now," an officer in the Territorial Army said, seeking anonymity.
Mohanlal, shooting for a film in the remote areas of Ooty, remained unavailable for comments.
It is perhaps the two army roles that he donned -- in Keerthichakra and Kurukshetra -- that led to this new development. Keerthichakra depicted the army's anti-militancy operations in Jammu and Kashmir, while Kurukshetra dealt with the Kargil war.
"It will be a great honour. It is also heartening to know that I -- my films -- have been instrumental in Lal getting the honour," says Major Ravi, who directed both the films. The director will soon start work on a film on the Kandahar hijack, featuring Mohanlal and Kamal Haasan.
The Territorial Army is a voluntary part-time civilian force that plays a key role in the defence of the country. It provides an opportunity to civilians to receive military training and also provides the country with a reserve force that can assist the regular army during operations, whenever required. However, it remains a honorary post.