Mohanlal may be the Amitabh Bachchan of the south, but his presence in Hindi films has been limited. And even though his iconic role as the police commissioner in ‘Company’ will be remembered by many, in the national media he would still be that Malayalam actor who had a flash in the pan brush with Bollywood.
At the end of the day, though, how many Indian actors can boast of being SRK's guide to Kerala or having performed an action sequence with Jackie Chan? And that makes us wonder how the south Indian film industry co-exists as a parallel universe, and how a superstar down south can roam about freely in the streets of Mumbai without being stormed by fans. Kunal Guha caught up with the National-Award-winning actor when he was in Mumbai to talk about his small but crucial cameo in Priyadarshan's action thriller ‘Tezz’.
With limited knowledge of his Malayalam legacy, the only visual I could conjure up on meeting the superstar, clad in a simple checked shirt, was that of a police commissioner on a day off. So my first question was obvious, “You’ve been branded as a dependable cop in Hindi films, does this work for you or against you?”
He smiled. “Am I? The branding has already been done? I don’t know about that.” I insisted that it was the opinion of the national media. Finally, trying to carefully gather his words, he said, “This branding wasn’t done purposely. It’s just that I’ve played a cop in three films and it just happened. But here (in Tezz) I play a London cop so it’s a bit different.”
I wanted to ask him why he thinks he makes for a good cop but he began talking before I could speak. “This is my 43rd film with Priyan (Priyadarshan) and I keep joking about wanting to work in a Hindi film with him. So suddenly, he called me and said he’s doing this film and I asked him if he had a role for me, I’d like to do it and he offered me this special role which is of a British police officer in the film. It wasn’t a planned thing, and it began as a joke and a casual conversation that led to my role in this film.”
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