'Mission Mangal' director interview: 'Had Mohanlal and Sridevi in mind as the lead'

'Mission Mangal' director interview: 'I wanted Mohanlal and Sridevi in the lead roles'

Close on the heels of the successful launch of India's Moon mission, Chandrayaan-2, film buffs will get an opportunity to watch Mission Mangal, a science fiction that dwells on the scientists at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) who contributed to the Mars Orbiter Mission, India's first inter-planetary expedition.

The much-awaited movie is the directorial debut of Jagan Shakti, who had assisted R Balki and A R Murugadoss earlier. In an interview with Onmanorama, Jagan says he is happy to know that the Hindi movie – starring Akshay Kumar, Vidya Balan and Taapsee Pannu - has garnered wide attention down South as well.

Edited excerpts:

'Mission Mangal' director interview: 'I wanted Mohanlal and Sridevi in the lead roles'

'Fictional account of a true story'

The idea didn't occur to me in a day or two. My elder sister, Sujatha Krishna, is a scientist at ISRO. She keeps reminding me about the hidden story of unsung heroes at the organisation. I had a chance to meet the team behind Mangalyaan. I realised that it is a team work and the success cannot be credited to one person. I wanted to do justice to all of them. So I chose my own set of characters, but I portrayed real incidents and scenes inside ISRO. Mission Mangal is a fictional account of a true story.

'Inspired by women'

'Mission Mangal' director interview: 'I wanted Mohanlal and Sridevi in the lead roles'

We can empower women by not talking about it rather than giving them what they deserve. I don't even like to talk about gender equality because men need not do any favours to women, who have every right to be on top. I have been inspired by the women around me, especially my mother and sister. My mother does all the household chores. My sister gets up five in the morning to do household chores, cook food, wash clothes and then go to work. She launches rockets, comes back home and do the house-hold chores again. My wife too takes care of our kids, home, and family. Women multi-task than men and ensure that life goes on smoothly. They have inspired me in making Mission Mangal. They have sacrificed a lot of things to support my career.

'I wanted Mohanlal in the lead, but...'

There is a difference between scientists at USA's National Aeronautics and Space Administration and India's ISRO. At ISRO, ordinary people do extraordinary things. They hail from different Indian states. That is why I decided to rope in South Indian actors. While writing the script, I imagined Mohanlal and Sridevi in the lead roles. But eventually, the roles went to Akshay Kumar and Vidya Balan. I knew Sonakshi and she used to tell me that I should call her when I do my first movie. I picked Taapsee as she is a familiar face not only in South but in Bollywood also. My plans to cast Manju Warrier did not materialise, and hence the role went to Nithya Menen. Vidhya Balan's character is close to my heart.

'I grew up watching Malayalam movies'

'Mission Mangal' director interview: 'I wanted Mohanlal and Sridevi in the lead roles'

For me, a perfect film should be sensible. It should move you emotionally and entertain. It should connect with the viewers. I grew up watching Malayalam and Tamil films. I am married to a Keralite and she hails from Palakkad. My first exposure to Malayalam cinema was Varavelppu. I love the simplicity of Sathyan Anthikad's movies. The recent one I watched was Kumbalangi Nights. Fahadh Faasil is one of my favourites among the current crop of actors. I am a great fan of Parvathy and have been waiting to watch Uyare.

'Film is a team effort'

Though the new school of filmmaking depends on writing dialogues on sets, I believe in having a completed script before stepping onto the sets. It gives a perspective and lot of control. It also helps keep production cost in check. Once the script is ready, I narrate it to actors. I welcome their valuable suggestions as I believe that a film is a team effort.

Produced by Cape of Good Films, Hope Productions, and Fox Star Studios, the film is scheduled to land in theatres on 15 August, 2019.

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