Michael is not Bilal: Interview with Amal Neerad

Amal Neerad
Amal Neerad

The last time Mammootty and Amal Neerad united was for ‘Big B’, which also marked the directorial debut of Amal Neerad. 15 years later, they are back with ‘Bheeshma Parvam’, and as expected the partnership is bringing the crowd back into the theatres.

The film is a veritable visual feast with action, sentiments, romance and drama added in the right doses. For Mammootty fans, this is everything they expected and more. We had a chat with Amal Neerad.

Mammootty in the movie, 'Bheeshma Parvam'.

There is a 15-year gap between your first film and ‘Bheeshma Parvam.’ A lot of water has flown under the bridge since then. What are the changes you see in Mammootty and you?

Though this film is set in 1988, we are dedicating it to Kevin and his widow Neenu. Kevin’s murder was a case of honour killing. Like ‘Varathan’ this film also deals with a socially relevant topic. Having said that ‘Bheeshma Parvam is also a mainstream superstar film.

Isn’t it a big deal to make a period fiction film in Kochi?

We shot the film at Kannammali, Kumbalangi and Ezhupunna. Obviously, it required a lot of effort to recreate the 80s period. We had to remove a lot of props that weren’t suited to that era with the help of computer graphics. The shoot went for 90s days. In ‘Big B’ Mammootty’s Bilal doesn’t speak Kochi slang but Michael speaks a blend of Vipin and Kumbalangi slang.

This film isn’t just about Mammootty’s heroism. The rest of the characters are as powerful. And they are getting a lot of appreciation.

You can witness Mammootty’s heroism, Nadia Moidu’s heroism as well as the heroism of Soubin Shahir, Sreenath Bhasi, villain Shine Tom Chacko, Anagha and Veena Nandakumar. We have taken a lot of care to give enough details and gravitas to each character.

Mammootty in the movie Bheeshma Parvam

Is there a casting director in your films? How do you come up with such perfect casting?

I am the casting director of my film. And I am very particular about finding the perfect actors for my characters. First, I try to get the correct sketch and behaviour of the characters and then search for the right actors.

You have given opportunities to a lot of your friends and technicians in your films.

I would like to quote my Guru Ram Gopal Varma who had an interesting answer to a similar question. In that interview with 'The Week' magazine, he said I have not given anyone a break; I have only made use of their talent. It was Ram Gopal Varma who first gave me an opportunity when I passed out from my film school. So I would like to repeat what he said that day. I don’t think I am doing anyone any favours, just making use of their talent.

Bilal was supposed to come before ‘Bheeshma Parvam’ but due to covid restrictions, you had to keep it aside. Can we expect ‘Bilal’ soon?

We had to shoot ‘Bheeshma Parvam’ braving two covid waves. I always take a break after a film before starting my next one.

A lot of people had this doubt regarding your name. What’s the meaning of Amal Neerad?

Amal means pure. It is also a synonym of Ganapathi (laughs). Neerad means cloud. My father (Former professor of Maharajas college and literary writer CR Omanakuttan) has published a book called ‘Kuttikalkkulla 5001 perukal’ (5001 names for children). My name was a test dose before that book. 

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