Two decades after Naduvazhikal, director Joshiy, actor Mohanlal and scriptwriter S.N. Swamy get-together for Lokpal, a thriller about a man who takes on the system.
Back in 1989, together, they created one of the most talked-about films of the year; a film that went on to become one of the most celebrated Malayalam films ever. The film was Naduvazhikal. The team behind the runaway success of the thriller with a judicious dose of drama was director Joshiy, actor Mohanlal and scriptwriter S.N. Swamy. Twenty-four years later, the trio is back with Lokpal, which opened in cinemas yesterday.
“Twenty-four years is a long time indeed. I am happy to work with the same team. Actually, there is no reason why it took such a long time for us to work together. I guess it was because we were all busy with our own projects. Until Lokpal we didn’t find a subject that was suitable for all three of us,” says Joshiy.
Looking back at Naduvazhikal, which also had Madhu, Devan, Murali, Thilakan and Roopini in important roles, the veteran director says it is still one of his favourite films. “It was not just a box office hit, but garnered positive responses from all quarters as well. It was my third film with Mohanlal, and the first after he attained superstardom, which he did with K.B. Madhu’s thriller Irupatham Noottandu two years earlier (incidentally Irupatham Noottandu was also scripted by Swamy),” recalls Joshiy.
He adds that Lokpal is another thriller. “Mohanlal and Swamy approached me with the idea for Lokpal while I was shooting Run Baby Run, my previous film, which also had Lal as the hero. I liked the concept and we decided to make the film right after I completed Run Baby Run,” he says. After Run Baby Run’s splendid run in cinemas Joshiy knows that expectations are high about Lokpal too. “I enjoyed making Lokpal. I hope the audience will enjoy watching it too,” says the veteran director, widely acknowledged as one of the finest technicians among Malayalam film directors.
Swamy says Joshiy’s technical finesse is evident in Lokpal too. “Joshiy has no parallels when it comes to shooting a thriller. It has always been a great experience working with him in films such as Dhruvam and Sainyam. Lokpal is also a thriller – it is basically a cat-and-mouse game between a cop and a thief,” he says.
Then, is it on the lines of the Mammootty-starrer Kalikkalam (1990), arguably one of Swamy’s finest scripts? “Yes, you could say that. But Lokpal is a lot unlike Kalikkalam too. Although Lokpal is action-packed, it has no violence. We have tried to tell a thrilling tale without resorting to loud action sequences. It is about one man’s fight against corruption and the novel ways he devises to take on the system. Mohanlal plays Nandagopal, a restaurateur who wears more than one hat. This is my 14th film with Lal,” adds the scriptwriter.
Swamy admits that the title of Lokpal has something to do with Anna Hazare’s popular fight against corruption.
“But the similarity stops there; we decided to use the title because we thought it would be something that the audience could easily identify with. Nandagopal, however, bears no resemblance to Hazare,” he clarifies.
Joshiy says that there are many other characters in the film who are likely to catch the attention of the audience. “For instance, Shammi Thilakan, who was appreciated for his cameo in Run Baby Run, has put in a fine performance as an activist-entrepreneur in Lokpal,” he says. Swamy adds: “Saikumar stars as a private banker. He is brilliant; it is one of his most powerful roles yet,” he says.
Kavya Madhavan is the leading lady. She plays Nandagopal’s former sweetheart. Meera Nandan also has an important role in the movie.