Pranav Mo­han­lal’s de­but film out in UAE

Di­rec­tor Jeethu Joseph talks about the mak­ing of Pranav Mo­han­lal’s de­but as a hero in Aadhi in an ex­clu­sive chat with Deepa Gauri

Khaleej Times - City Times - - FRONT PAGE -

AFEW DAYS be­fore the re­lease of Aadhi, the de­but of Pranav Mo­han­lal as a hero, yes, the son of In­dian cin­ema’s pow­er­house ac­tor Mo­han­lal, Jeethu Joseph was feel­ing the jit­ters. His hero was al­ready on a Hi­malayan trail, hav­ing said that he won’t be part of the pro­mo­tional band­wagon.

The film’s pro­ducer Antony Perum­bavoor of­fered lit­tle so­lace. “I am go­ing to book a ticket to some­where,” he joked to Jeethu, to which the di­rec­tor, re­torted: “Book one for me too.”

Ev­ery­one was seem­ingly on ten­ter­hooks. They were shoul­der­ing a mega-re­spon­si­bil­ity – the launch of Pranav. “There were only two pos­si­bil­i­ties: Ei­ther the world would tear me apart for wreck­ing Pranav’s ca­reer or they would say, I did jus­tice to the young man,” says Jeethu.

He was ready to face both: if you know Jeethu, the man who took Malay­alam cin­ema to the big league of multi-mil­lion-ru­pee block­busters with his Dr­ishyam (star­ring Mo­han­lal), you would re­alise that he is quite the ‘cool’ man.

Not one to get overly ex­cited about suc­cess or lose one­self in the face of set­backs, Jeethu is more like a kindly fam­ily physi­cian than the hot­shot film di­rec­tor that he is. Thor­oughly unas­sum­ing, he says the defin­ing mo­ment came when he watched the first fully edited film on the eve of its re­lease.

Ear­lier, Mo­han­lal and his wife Su­chi­tra had watched the ‘double-pos­i­tive’ and – in their mod­est man­ner – had said “the film has turned out well. All have done well,” re­calls Jeethu.

“I watched the film with my wife, and in­stantly, I knew I had got it right. I knew it would be an en­ter­tainer,” says Jeethu. For the first time in a decade, he went for the first-day, first-show of Aadhi at a lo­cal the­atre. “The last time I watched a first-show of my movie was for my de­but film De­tec­tive,” says Jeethu.

By the time he ex­ited the the­atre, Aadhi was cer­ti­fied as a block­buster hit. Pranav Mo­han­lal had ar­rived. Ush­ered in by Jeethu. In style!

A park­our thriller

What has had fans go­ing gaga about Aadhi are the park­our stunts by Pranav. Yet, the film’s story was not tai­lored for Pranav, says Jeethu. “It was a one-liner I had from my col­lege days, about a cross­coun­try run­ner, and how he gets into an in­ci­dent; the only way to get out was to use his cham­pion-skills as a run­ner.”

He kept the theme in the back­burner in his ini­tial days in the in­dus­try. He went on to di­rect De­tec­tive, Mummy & Me, Mem­o­ries, Dr­ishyam (its Tamil re­make with Ka­mal Haasan – Pa­panasam), Life of Jo­sutty and Oozham.

On Pa­panasam and Life of Jo­sutty, Pranav was an as­sis­tant to Jeethu, an unas­sum­ing young­ster with a dis­tinc­tive per­son­al­ity, a wan­derer, a dreamer, a kin­dred soul not rev­el­ing in the lure of lime­light. He de­buted in cin­ema as a child ac­tor in On­na­man, and took home a state film award for best child ac­tor for his sec­ond film, Pu­nar­jani.

“Appu (as Pranav is fondly known) has al­ways been dif­fer­ent,” says Jeethu, who now has the task of talk­ing about Pranav in his ab­sence. “Since he is trav­el­ling, in­vari­ably the me­dia asks me about him,” smiles Jeethu.

When Jeethu bounced off the idea, re­plac­ing cross­coun­try run­ning with park­our, Pranav liked it. “It helped that Appu used to do park­our as a young boy,” says Jeethu.

Mo­han­lal read the script and but for a few mi­nor sug­ges­tions, was fine with it. Antony Perum­bavoor stepped in with a dream of­fer: “Bud­get no bar.”

So, it is that Aadhi came to life with Pranav, Sid­dique, Lena, Anus­ree and Ja­ga­p­ati Babu, among oth­ers. A thriller, it charts the story of a young as­pir­ing mu­si­cian, Aadhi (Pranav) and how he un­wit­tingly gets en­tan­gled in a dire in­ci­dent. To stay alive, he must use his skills – in­clud­ing park­our.

Work­ing with fa­ther & son

On di­rect­ing both dad and son, Jeethu is mat­ter-of-fact and not ob­se­quiously ef­fu­sive. “Pranav is a be­gin­ner and he has done a good job. There is some­thing about him that is like Mo­han­lal. When you are film­ing Lal, the ex­ter­nal vibe he gives out is that he is not se­ri­ous – but the re­sult you see on-screen is mind-blow­ing. Sim­i­larly, Pranav too makes a pow­er­ful pres­ence on the big-screen. I think Appu re­ally en­joyed the process of film­ing.”

Jeethu now goes on to di­rect his first Hindi film with Em­raan Hashimi and Rishi Kapoor, an adap­ta­tion of a Span­ish film. “It is a thriller that un­folds in one day.”

He says that with a pro­fu­sion of new tal­ents and fresh faces, Malay­alam cin­ema is wit­ness­ing a golden era now. “There is more re­al­ism, and the treat­ment is dif­fer­ent. It is im­por­tant to rein­vent your craft, and I will do that.” That state­ment also says a lot about Jeethu – about his own open­ness to learn de­spite his strong cre­den­tials.

For now, Jeethu, who also wrote Aadhi, has given Malay­alam cin­ema a new star: And Pranav has proved his met­tle. He even has a reg­is­tered fans as­so­ci­a­tion. But will he bait for an all-out act­ing ca­reer? Jeethu doesn’t have the an­swer. And Pranav is not say­ing. But a star is born, let him shine.


Di­rec­tor Jeethu Joseph dis­cusses a point with Pranav Mo­han­lal , the son of su­per­star Mo­han­lal and the hero of his new film,

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