Johny Antony, the director behind many blockbuster films is one of the most interesting actors we have in Malayalam cinema today. After making his debut in ‘Udayapuram Sultan’ he has already acted in over 25 films. He has been really appreciated for his performances in ‘Home’ and ‘Hridayam’ and is also playing a significant role in Mohanlal’s ‘Aaraattu.’ Johny Antony talks about his ‘Aaraattu’ experience to Manorama online.
Neyyattinkara Gopante Aaraattu
Mohanlal plays the titular role of Neyyattinkara Gopan in ‘Aaraattu.’ It has all the ingredients required to bring in the crowds. A film that pays homage to Mohanlal the star. There will be the usual things expected from Mohanlal, a lot of fan-pleasing moments, and also quite a few things you won't expect from him. Also, it is written by Udayakrishna whose previous collaboration with Mohanlal was the superhit ‘Pulimurugan’. Director B Unnikrishnan has also succeeded in adapting his script to the screen without diluting its genre.
The jobless lawyer
I play a lawyer but not the one who goes to court. I am this slightly daft advisor to a rich man. The one who is of no use when you need his advice the most.
Direction when I have time
Currently, I am getting a lot of acting offers and I am hoping that it continues. I have a few films to complete, and I intend to take up direction only when I am free. Acting is easier. You only need to focus on your part and not be worried about shouldering an entire film. I don’t think it is easy to sustain in cinema. This is a space filled with such fine talents that it is important to find a place of your own and work hard to sustain it. I try to take up different characters and avoid repetition. I have been able to meet so many writers and directors through acting. And such associations are always a learning process. Even my tastes are evolving. So I think when I do a film next, I am hoping to incorporate all that I learnt during my interactions with these writers and directors.
When can we expect a film with Mohanlal?
I always wanted to make a film with Mohanlal. And though I tried a few times, nothing really worked. Every director dreams of making a film with Mammootty and Mohanlal. I had the fortune to direct Mammukka, and I am keen on doing more films with him. When I get the right story, I will do a film with Mohanlal.
New generation’s ‘Hridayam’
It was in my film ‘Cycle’ that Vineeth Sreenivasan made his debut as an actor. I had the good fortune to act in his ‘Hridayam.’ I had also acted in ‘Varane Avashyamundu’ that had Kalyani Priyadarshan and Dulquer Salmaan. I played Kalyani’s father in ‘Hridayam’ and I really enjoyed the experience of working with these young actors. When I see the children of our legendary filmmakers and actors doing great work, I feel extremely happy. This is an indication that Malayalam cinema is thriving with great talents. We can expect great films and performances in the years to come. Vineeth has proved his mettle as a filmmaker and all his films have worked at the box office. I had very few scenes with Pranav but I think he is a very calm and grounded boy, matured beyond his age. I think his experience as a traveller and voracious reader will help him in acting. He proved that in ‘Kunjali Marakkar.’ In ‘Hridayam’ he played a character who begins in college, falls in love, experiences heartbreak, finds love again, gets married, and becomes a father and I thought he carried the role so well. Like his father, he is also very flexible. I am confident that Pranav will be an asset to Malayalam cinema in the future.
Theatres will be back in form
We are hopeful that ‘Aaraattu’ will bring back the audience to theatres. Its pre-booking was quite encouraging. It will be a film for Mohanlal fans. After this comes ‘Upachara poorvam Gunda Jayan’ on Feb 25th directed by Arun Vaiga. Saiju Kurup, Siju Wilson and Sabareesh are the main leads and I am also playing a nice character. Dulquer Salmaan’s Wayfarer Films agreed to distribute the film after watching it. Another film ready for release is ‘Member Rameshan 9am ward’ directed by newcomers Aby Treesa Paul and Anto Jose Periera, headlined by Arun Asokan. It will be a narrative laced with humour. I am playing different characters in all these films. There are a few other films underway. I am sure packed theatres will soon be back.