It was under the direction of hit-makers like K Madhu ('Mounam Sammatham'), Maniratnam, (Dalapathy) and P Balachandar (Azhakan), that Kerala's own Mammootty forayed into the Tamil scene. Now, the megastar is all set to enter Sandalwood, and it is the one -film-old Abhay Sinha who has the privilege to introduce him to Karnataka.
The biggest strength of the young director is that his maiden movie - 'Gubbachigalu' - itself had bagged the Swarnakamalam for the Best Children’s Film in 2008 and this might have helped him win the confidence of Karnataka’s biggest production house, K Manju Productions, for his second film.
"I told the story of 'Shikkari' to K Manju, the producer, and he readily agreed to carry it forward. While penning the script, Mammootty's face came to mind for the protagonist's role. Later, I talked to him about the project and he conveyed his willingness," says Abhay Sinha.
During his Pune Film Institute days itself, Sinha had a liking towards Mammootty. "I did my course of cinematography there. During those days, 'Oru Vadakkan Veeragadha' was shown as a reference for our lessons. I was astounded by the brilliance of his performance. The movie made me a great fan of the actor," he adds.
Regarding his film, Sinha says that it would be a total entertainer with a unique narrative. "The story happens in an imaginary village "Manjinadka". Mammooty plays the role of Abhilash, a software engineer, who eventually falls in love with a fictitious character from a bygone era. But my movie is not a fantasy and is not the story of two characters travelling through two timelines. It is not 'punarjanma' either but one character travelling thorough two timelines," he elaborates.
Sinha is confident that since they have taken care of certain nuances that the Malayali people like, the film will be accepted well in Kerala.
"The film will be released in Karnataka on March 30. The film has already created a huge curiosity among the Kannadigas too and we are pretty confident that Mammootty will be given a warm reception in Karnataka too. After all, as an actor, he is not the asset of the Malayalis alone but belongs to the entire filmdom. His voice modulation and dubbing for the Kannada version were excellent," he says.
And his experience working with Mammootty? "Fabulous, I will say. He was very affectionate and treated me like his brother on the sets. When I felt sad or desperate, he will come to me and cheer me up saying ‘Come on man, you are the director, you have to show the guts. Don’t be nervous and cheer up’. He was really cool," says Abhay.