Actor Unni Mukundan has dismissed actor Bala’s allegations about not getting remuneration for acting in his home production 'Shafeekinte Santosham'.
The actor maintained that all the actors were paid for the film and Bala was given a remuneration of Rs 2 lakhs. The cinematographer was paid 7 lakhs.
The actor also said that there were instances when Bala was unable to finish dubbing work as well.
'I recommended Bala'
Unni shared documents of the monetary transactions for the benefit of the media during the press conference.
The actor said, “This press conference is not just a reply to Bala but to put out a clarification to those who trust me. The director has already responded to the allegations. We gave 7 lakhs to cinematographer Eldo. We had decided to give him 8 lakhs. Later it was reduced to 7 lakhs after a discussion between the line producer and him. I don’t know how far the allegations that the crew was not paid wages are true. Bala is my closest friend, and he still is."
Unni said that earlier, he had acted in the film Bala had directed and produced. "And that film and Bala also became troll material thanks to Tini Tom and Pisharady.
But except for me, none of the other actors mentioned in that troll acted in the film. I acted in that film at a time when 'Mallu Singh' had become a huge hit," Unni said, explaining, "I did that as a friend. For 5 days I acted as a dead body in the film. And didn’t take remuneration. Am realizing the true meaning of friendship these days. I have done so many films like that. Not that I think I have done something great."
Interestingly, Unni said that when Bala remarried, it's only him who attended the function. "Again, as a friend. I have never tried to interfere in his personal life. And going forward also I intend to keep it that way," the actor explained.
Apparently, Unni himself recommended Bala for 'Shafeekinte Santosham'. "I persisted despite the director showing disinterest hoping that it will be a break for the actor. A prominent actor was supposed to play that role. I also wanted him to dub in his own voice. Before these trolls came, we had finished shooting for the film.
Bala worked for 20 days. In the last film, his remuneration was 3 lakhs. As a daily salary of Rs 10 k, we transferred his promised remuneration of Rs 2 lakhs. All these jokes happened only after this. We both discussed these things."
'Can’t recall an actor being paid more for popularity through trolls'
Unni said that Bala observed since he was quite popular online, he needed more salary. He said, "Bala asked for a salary I wasn’t able to afford. He even pointed out the car I gifted to my previous film director. I can’t recall an actor being paid more remuneration simply because he gained popularity through trolls. If I was able to afford it, I would have agreed to his demands. If I make a film with Bala again, I hope I will be able to offer him the money he demanded."
Interestingly, Shafeekinte... was also the first Malayalam film that Bala dubbed for himself. Unni said that he didn’t ask Bala to dub based on his sudden popularity. "If you check the date when the film was censored you will be able to know this. We had to take the help of a mimicry artist to dub for three of his dialogues. As a friend and producer, I was willing to overlook it. But the director was not too keen on that. It is also false that we threw his father-in-law out of the dubbing studio. That’s part of the dubbing studio rules. We have nothing to do with this.
Such an incident has never happened in my film career. And hopefully, it will never happen as well," said Unni.
The actor-producer remembered an instance in which his line producer sent actor Rahul Madhav money, without his knowledge. Unni remembered, "But Rahul immediately forwarded that money to me. He even scolded me for sending the money. I also had such memorable instances of friendship in this film.
Bala said I only paid money to the women in the film. I made sure that all the technicians in the film were paid. They can complain anywhere they want. And they have associations for that. I wouldn’t be able to release the film if that happens. That was the only thing that hurt me a bit."
Unni said that these are some of the most serious allegations against him. "Since this has affected me personally, I decided to come forward to clarify it. I am just an ordinary actor. I have produced two films and I don’t know what went wrong from the production side. I also don’t know why Bala did this. He is claiming that I marketed his voice and trolls. I don’t consider this as marketing but as my character assassination. I decided to come forward as I wanted the truth to be known to those people who love and trust me," Unni said.
'Nothing against Bala'
In the press conference, Unni said that when he offered Bala a full-length role, he even said Unni was making the film for him. "I haven’t taken money for his film (Hitlist). I have nothing against Bala. And I have no intention of moving forward legally. My friendship cannot be that brittle. My mother cried when she heard these allegations and lamented that my friends ended up this way. So many people called me from the industry after hearing about this incident. They said I deserved this. I hope Bala is able to do more films. I personally loved his performance in this film. And personally, I have nothing against him," said the actor-producer.