Director M Padmakumar began his journey in the movies by assisting the legendary film maker Hariharan in movies like Aranyakam and Oru Vadakkan Veeragadha which are hailed as cult classics in Malayalam cinema. It must be an amazing twist of fate that on the 30th anniversary of Oru Vadakkan Veeragadha, Padmakumar is all set to thrill the Malayali audience with a mega movie set in the backdrop of the Valluvanadan tales.
Mamangam, which is touted as the most expensive movie produced in Malayalam, has mega star Mammootty in the lead role. Padmakumar likes to perceive this movie as one of his greatest fortunes in life. Calling it an emotional thriller, Padmakumar opens up about Mamangam and his experiences of directing the movie.
“I feel great pride and happiness. Thirty years ago, I entered the movies as an apprentice. You couldn’t even call it an assistant director. It amazes me thinking that I got the opportunity to work in a movie like Oru Vadakkan Veeragadha as a mere helper. Over these 30 years, I treaded through the different aspects of cinema and slowly began directing movies on my own. Finally, to be able to direct a movie that is as big and elaborate as Oru Vadakkan Veeragadha, that too with Mammootty in the lead role, is truly exhilarating. I consider myself extremely fortunate and feel incredibly proud as well,” says an excited Padmakumar.
Mamangam v/s Baahubali
Padmakumar insists that Mamangam is nothing like the epic movie Baahubali, other than just a comparison as part of the marketing hype. He vows that the audience would realize that his movie doesn’t belong to the genre or structure of Baahubali, when the movie releases. “I am not Rajamouli. Those who have watched my films know that. Our aim was not to make a movie that competes with the extravagance or technical superiority of Baahubali. This movie adopts a larger canvas as something as elaborate and great as Mamangam becomes its background. Beyond that, this movie is an ordinary film that tells the stories of ordinary people and their emotions,” explains Padmakumar.
Mammootty and Vadakkan Veeragadha
The film maker says that just like Mammootty’s roles in Oru Vadakkan Veeragadha and Pazhassi Raja are different; his character in Mamangam too is unique. However, he doesn’t reveal the name of the character played by the actor in Mamangam. The screen icon apparently essays the role of one of the chavers (sworn warrior) who sets out from Valluvanad to fight the Zamorin during the Mamangam festival. Padmakumar notes that such a character is different from the other historical characters that the award winning actor had earlier played.
“In Pazhassiraja he was king; but in this movie he is just an ordinary citizen. Yet, he has all the graces and expressions to stand up to a king. As far as Mammootty is concerned, he had portrayed these three characters in three different ways, treating each one in a unique manner,” observes the film maker.
“As someone who had been with him during Oru Vadakkan Veeragadha, I can vow that Mammootty maintains the same energy and excitement now as well. He did the role of a chaver in Mamangam with the same level of excitement and dedication. It truly would be a rare cinematic experience that stands out not just in the Malayalam cinema but in the world cinema as well,” notes Padmakumar.
Padmakumar is of the opinion that adding VFX in movies would surely give it a feel of artificiality. He pointed out the VFX technology wasn’t popular when movies like Oru Vadakkan Veeragadha and Pazhassiraja were made. He adds that the makers of these movies have made it as realistic as possible because VFX was rare during those times. The film maker says that the crew of Mamangam too had aimed to create a movie with realistic treatment. “This movie doesn’t narrate the story of great kingdoms and their rulers like in Baahubali. This is the story of the common people of a particular age. So, we had to recreate that age. Rather than depending entirely on the VFX we wanted to approach the movie as realistic and convincing as possible. Our goal had been to present a real storyline in the most honest way, by limiting the use of VFX. We were definitely able to achieve that goal,” says the director with conviction.
Padmakumar admits that unlike his other movies, the greatest challenge in Mamangam was to recreate the ancient age. As the movie mainly narrates the story of the ordinary people of those times, their houses, background, attires and lifestyles had to be recreated with authenticity. An extensive research was done by the team of this movie to present everything in the most authentic way possible. “Not just Mammootty and Unni Mukundan, even small characters who appear in just a single frame have been chosen carefully. That indeed was a challenge,” reveals Padmakumar.
“We have filmed two major Mamangam festivals. However, I love to call the movie an emotional thriller,” admits the director.
“I really like all the movies that I had directed. However, the movie Joseph had been a turning point in my life. Joseph in fact was my 15th directorial venture. I did many things in Joseph which I couldn’t do in my other films. We were able to deliver a good movie, made on a smaller canvas, even without the backing of a super star. The audience liked our movie and received it very well. So, Joseph definitely stands out for me among all my movies,” concludes Padmakumar.