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August 29, 2000

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'His gift is that he underplays emotions'

Shobha Warrier

Hariharanís Panchagni, based on MT Vasudevan Nair's script, has been described as a turning point in Mohanlal's career as an actor.

Mohanlal That was when critics and fans alike were exposed to the extraordinary talent that is Mohanlal. Here's the director who showed us that initial glimpse:

Until I made Panchagni, most Mohanlal films also starred Mammootty.

Panchagni was mainly Geeta's film, but when we asked Mohanlal whether he would do the film, he said he would do 'any role'. The first thing I wanted was to give him a different appearance. Till then, he hadn't appeared without a moustache. So I asked him to shave it off. He immediately agreed.

Panchagni went on to become a turning point in his career.

I don't think Mohanlal 'acts' in any film. He is just so natural. Even if it's a heavy roles, he makes everything look so easy and natural. This gift is what makes him a good actor.

It was not in Panchagni, but in Amrutham Gamaya (based on MT Vasudevan Nair's story and screenplay) that he really surprised me. That was an amazing performance. In fact, he should have won a National Award for it.

Have you seen the scene in which he injects pethidine into his thighs? That was simply great. And when he realises that the family he befriends is the family of the boy whom he had accidentally killed while ragging him in medical college, was heartbreaking.

I don't know how he showed inner turmoil so beautifully. It was so subtle, so disturbing. The beauty of his performance is that he underplays emotions. Every muscle of his body reacts. For that one scene itself, he should have been given an award.

I, the director, forgot myself when he was performing in Amrutham Gamaya. Why, all the unit members wept, while watching him perform.

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