'The script lured Mohanlal and Vishal to Villain'
...says director B Unnikrishnan, whose latest project, Villain will hit the screens on October 27
Director B Unnikrishnan says Villain is the biggest project he has undertaken so far, having spent almost a year just on the pre-production work. It was shot in three schedules and boasts an enviable star cast, including Mohanlal, Manju Warrier and Tamil actors Vishal and Hansika. Now, as Villain readies to hit the marquee on October 27, Unnikrishnan says he is "reasonably happy" with the output.
In an interview with CE, the director talks about his latest movie and how Mohanlal's Mathew Manjooran will satisfy his fans.
After a gap of three years, you are back with a big-budget project. Tell us more about Villain.
Villain is done on a huge canvas. The scale is big, so is the budget, and when Rockline Entertainments decided to produce it, it grew even bigger. I have been polishing the script for a long time. This is an investigative thriller, but bears no resemblance to any of my previous projects. Mohanlal plays the character of a former ADGP who gets involved in a murder mystery. The character has different shades, in the sense that he treads the grey area. In this movie, I have explored the concept of villainy, rather than an individual. I am confident that there is everything one expects from a Mohanlal flick.
You pulled a casting coup by roping in Tamil stars Vishal and Hansika.
Yes, the characters demanded such faces. However, my initial plan was to cast Prithviraj in Vishal's role. Prithvi loved the script and agreed to do it. But, he couldn't allot dates and I couldn't wait either. That's when I felt Vishal would be a great choice. Mohanlal was thrilled about it and they already knew each other. I met him and it only needed 15 minutes of narration for him to commit. Same with Hansika and Rashi Khanna. This story has a hook that lured them. Malayalam isn't exactly a great market for them, yet they were enthusiastic about it.
Villain will be released in Tamil and Telugu too. You certainly must be eyeing the market for Mohanlal in other south languages.
Yes, we plan to release the movie by the start of November in Tamil and Telugu. We hope the positive reaction from Kerala will help the film's business in other states. Moreover, Mohanlal, post-Pulimurugan and Janata Garage, has a huge fan base in other states. It is very encouraging that our movies are finding a huge market elsewhere.
You seem to have a great chemistry with Mohanlal.
Well, that's for the audience to judge whether our chemistry as a director-actor has worked. But, I strive to create a character and film that suits his might. When you create a role for an artist like Mohanlal, it has to be a great one. I hope I have achieved that with Mathew Manjooran. Even Lal said that this character was something that challenged him in his 30-year career. That is very encouraging.
Your style has always been rooted in entertainment. Is Villain the same?
Of course, I always do cinema to entertain people. That's the core idea of art, it should please people. I just don't buy it when people view entertainers as something not worthy. When did entertainment turn into something bad? Villain is no different. My commitment is to the audience and the producer. The film industry is economy-based and it needs profit to survive.
Don't you feel like switching genres?
Yes, I want to do something very different, like a political movie. But, then politics for me is something subtle. It won't be like movies which are very verbose about party politics, rather it will be something where politics play an important role in human equations.
What about working with new faces?
I am open to it. But then, I do work with a lot of young people on the technical side. For instance, my cinematographer Manoj Paramahamsa is one of the best. The same with my editor Shameer, who has successful movies to his credit. I have always given the space for young people in my crew.