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|September 14, 1998||
The win-win situation
D Jose in Thiruvananthapuram
That was the problem facing Fazil, director of Malayalam film Harikrishnans. His solution was to provide different endings at different theatres. Harikrishnans also has generated a little interest because the heroine is Bollywood's Juhi Chawla, doing a Malayalam movie for the first time.
Juhi plays Meera, a woman loved by two lawyers, played by the two superstars, Mammooty and Mohanlal. Finally, Meera, amenable character that she is, suggests the guys decide who gets her.
So theatres in Thiruvananthapuram have Mohanlal marrying Meera; while theatres in Quilon and Cochin have Mammooty becoming the bridegroom. The ending has been decided by the star's standing in the particular region.
Juhi Chawla wasn't particularly interested whether her character went to one or the other man. Which, apparently, was when the decision was left to director Fazil.
Fazil said it was a problem faced by any film-maker casting two superstars together.
He, however, strongly refuted rumours that the decision had communal overtones. Some in the industry had alleged that Mammootty was shown as the victor in areas where Muslims were in a majority; and Mohanlal, where more Hindus lived.
Mammooty, unperturbed by these stories, said a film like Harikrishnans was a good thing for Malayalam cinema. It was received a phenomenal welcome from viewers in all centres where it was released two weeks ago. In the first week itself, the film collected Rs 560,000, an all-time high for any film, breaking the last record set by Aaraam Thampuram directed by Shaji Kailas. That too starred Mohanlal and it had managed to collect Rs 400,000 in the first week.
Vinoj Kamal of Mohanlal Fan's Assocation is enthusiastic about the film, and has only appreciation for Mohanlal's acting. "I am happy that Mammooty has agreed to act in a film starring Mohanlal, who is also its producer."
Benoy Babu, one of those who saw both the versions of the film, has no complaints against either, praising the performance of both stars. However, Sheeja, a housewife was unhappy, deploring two ends for the same film.
"It shows that story is not important for directors," she complained.
Senior film-maker K P Kumaran justified the production of the film with two climaxes, saying that the story is fictional and that the author is free to give it any direction he pleases. What is important how the viewers accept the work.
The producers wouldn't mind either way. As of now, they are in hysterics on the way to the banks.
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