'Comedy was not aimed at Mohanlal'
The recently released Malayalam film Padmashree Bharath Dr Saroj Kumar has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
After the film had a rather dismal show at the box office, the producer Vyshakha Rajan blamed the film's director Sajin Raghavan, and cinematographer S Kumar, for delaying the project and thereby adding an extra Rs 80 lakh to the budget. Their names were removed from the posters by the producer.
A major issue, though, was the film's content. It traces the life of a quirky superstar named Saroj Kumar and while the film brought to light several issues concerning the film industry in a humorous way, it was seen as particularly targeting superstar Mohanlal.
Mohanlal's appointment as colonel in the Territorial Army, the income tax raids at his house, his love for antiques, some of his advertisements and even his paunch were mocked in the film.
The grapevine has it that relations between Sreenivasan, who has written the script and plays the lead role of Saroj Kumar, and Mohanlal soured after the dismal showing of T K Rajeev Kumar's Oru Naal Varum, which was scripted by Sreenivasan with Mohanlal in the lead.
According to some, the superstar refused to do a guest appearance in Padmashree Bharath Dr Saroj Kumar.
In fact, the character Saroj Kumar was taken from the 2005 hit Udayananu Thaaram, in which the character Saroj Kumar stole a script written by an assistant director played by Mohanlal.
The current controversy hit the headlines when cinematographer S Kumar revealed that Mohanlal's confidant, Antony Perumbavoor, had rung him up and said certain not-so-nice things.
There have been statements for and against certain remarks made in the film.
Mohanlal has kept silent, but in this exclusive interview to Meghna George, Sreenivasan clears the air about the issue. Excerpts:
Were you surprised by the extreme reactions to Padmashree Bharath Dr Saroj Kumar?
The purpose of making the film was to entertain viewers. Maybe a few who haven't understood things well have reacted in a strange way.
To answer your question, no, the reactions didn't surprise me.
Image: Sreenivasan in Padmashree Bharath Dr Saroj Kumar
'If Mohanlal had seen the film, he would have enjoyed it'
Were you hurt by some of the events, as you have worked closely with Mohanlal in a number of films?
I feel that if Mohanlal had seen the film, he would have enjoyed it. The controversies have been created by others.
Do you think the comedy in the film should have been taken in a better spirit?
Saroj Kumar is a fictitious character who is free to think anything. In the film, Saroj Kumar becomes a colonel using some influence. It could be aimed at Mohanlal only if he too got the honour through influence.
Real life people have often been mocked in films. So why can't people from the industry accept it when they become the targets of comedy like it happened here?
As Mohanlal has not made comments on the issue it is not fair for me to say anything on that.
Image: A scene from Padmasree Bharat Dr Saroj Kumar