Believe in yourself: Words of wisdom from Mammootty

mammootty with actors
Mammootty (C) posing for a selfie with young actors (L to R) Adis, Shambhu, Darshana and Vinci and director Lal Jose. Photo: E V Shreekumar

Nearly 2 decades ago, Megastar Mammootty believed in a young man’s dream, and it resulted in a film called ‘Oru Maravathoor Kanavu.’ It was nearly noon when Director Lal Jose along with his battalion of new actors (Darshana, Vinci, Shambu, Adis) came to meet Mammootty to get his blessings for their film ‘Solomonte Thenichakal’. It is also Lal Jose’s 27th film. Though this is technically Vinci’s first film, she has already acted in four films by now.

The location is Udyogamandal’s FACT complex where the shooting of B Unnikrishnan’s latest film is progressing. Former Chairman M KK Nair has given the names of famous artists for all the roads. Lal Jose who came through the Raja Ravi Varma road parked his car on the Swathi Thirunal road and stood in front of Mammootty’s caravan.

“During ‘Oru Maravathoor Kanavu’ Mammukka and writer Sreeniyettan believed in a newcomer like me. It was that confidence that gave me the courage to move forward in my career. A group of newcomers are uniting for ‘Solomonte Theneechakal.’ We came here with the hope of receiving his blessings. It will also be nice if he is able to offer a few words of advice to these youngsters which in turn will help them in their journey forward.  That will be a blessing. That’s why we came here,” said Lal Jose.

Mammootty to the young actors: "Did he give you all payment for acting in this film?" When Vinci and Darshana immediately said yes, Mammootty replied in an amused tone—“Oh, he did tell you to say that, is it?” When Vinci also added that they have been promised more money if the film succeeds, Lal Jose told Mammootty—“Earlier we didn’t have such a policy. But now such a strategy is there. Good to know that.”

When Lal Jose started explaining how he found these four new actors through Mazhavil Manorama’s reality show called ‘Nayika Nayakan’, Mammootty assured him that he already knows them. When the Megastar disclosed that he often watches the episode that has Vincy, Darshana and Malavika enacting different ways to cook chicken curry, the actors became jubilant. That was enough cue for them to wonder if they could ask him a few questions.

To this Mammootty quipped, switching to the tone of ‘Oru Vadakkan Veera Gadha’s Chandu—“What wrong did I do to all of you to deserve this treatment?” He also reminded them that they should have answers, not questions.

When he gave the go-ahead signal to ask questions, Vincy quickly came up with the first question.

You have achieved everything in cinema. But is there anything more in life you feel you need to achieve?

Cinema, cinema, and cinema. Nothing excites me more than cinema. And I haven’t really gone searching for anything else too. That child who used to marvel at the magic called cinema is still there in me. We are preserving the magic and mystery of cinema. We have the same amazement towards cinema as the audience.

All Darshana wanted to know was when she can be a Mammootty heroine.

Mammootty: That is not me but you who should decide. If you have a stubborn desire and then work hard towards it, it will happen. You are all lucky. Didn’t Lal Jose invite you to act in his film? I didn’t have that fortune. (Mammootty looks at Lal Jose) I had to relentlessly pursue him to act in his film.  

Shambu: It might have taken a while to get a fixed income from cinema. How did you survive that period of uncertainty in cinema?

Mammootty: That uncertainty is there at every point in cinema. You need to run with cinema to overcome that uncertainty. There is no such situation where I can think that let people come and approach me in cinema. We have to go in search of cinema. Cinema needs nobody. By some luck, we might get some opportunity. Rest all depend on our hard work. It is not just about having talent; it is about believing that you have that talent.

Shambu: Did you always know that you will be a star one day?

Mammootty: No. All I expected was to be the yes man of a villain. Rest was all luck and hard work. Back then there weren’t enough avenues to showcase your talent so that you will be noticed by the people in the film industry. Today it is different.

Adis: What advice would you give to your younger self?

There is no significance in giving or receiving advice. It is about our decisions. It is about what we want and how much we want it. I never had shortcuts then. I have asked for opportunities even through a friend's friends. All right. Tell me who is Thenichakalude Solomon?

Lal Jose: Joju George is Solomon. This is about the life of two female cops named Suja and Glena. One is stationed at the Traffic department and the other at a local station. One of them is in love. As the romance progresses, a crime happens in their station. The second half focuses on what happens to the romance when the mystery of that crime unfolds.

Mammootty seemed to have found the story intriguing. So when is the release? He asked.

Lal Jose replied that it will be released on August 18th. “So you are going to be free after the independence day?” Mammootty observed. The meeting ended with a selfie with the Megastar. A honey sweet memory indeed! 

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