Mohanlal-starrer ‘Grandmaster' is a thriller that goes beyond the formula, says its film director B. Unnikrishnan.

Mohanlal and B. Unnikrishnan are ready with their moves for another outing at the box office to see if they can replicate the huge success of their first film together, ‘Madambi'. Unnikrishnan, who has made a name for his slick, investigative stories, says this is a film that has Mohanlal in a completely different role from the ones he usually plays on screen.

We have seen Mohanlal essaying a number of memorable cops in Malayalam and Tamil cinema. Most of them, but for the bumbling investigative officer Ramdas of the ‘Nadodikattu' series, are brave, intelligent and astute officers who are usually on the track of a criminal or a gang, a win-win combination of brains and brawn.

“But ‘Grandmaster' is the story of a police officer whose career and life have been checkmated several times by fate. There is no bravado or overt display of machoism. This laidback, rather lazy officer is forced to come out of his self-imposed hibernation of sorts due to certain events,” narrates Unnikrishnan.

The gorgeous Priyamani stars with Mohanlal for the first time. She plays a criminal lawyer, Deepthi, who has been separated from her husband, Chandrasekhar, Mohanlal's character. While Chandrasekhar's career goes nowhere, Deepthi is a high achiever who is going places in her profession.

Agreeing that hers is a plum role, Priyamani says: “Deepthi is not a run-of-the-mill woman character you see in films. She is a successful career woman and a mother. How and why she got separated from her husband is explained sensitively in the story.” A busy star in South Indian cinema, Priyamani says it is the chance to do offbeat roles and act in films with interesting themes that bring her back to Malayalam films.

“When the story begins, Chandrasekhar's biggest worry is that his cook is going to quit. A former chess champion and achiever, this police officer loses interest in his job and in life itself. ‘Grandmaster' traces the changes in the life of this man who becomes a kind of a loner, and what it is that motivates him to take on the challenges of life again. It is a crime thriller that plumbs the seamy underbelly of a city and its residents,” explains the filmmaker.

While Chandrasekhar is happy to watch life from the sidelines, his deputy, played by Narain, is an ambitious police office who aspires to make it big in his career. The director says the interactions between the two have both humour and tension as it is a clash between different attitudes.

New look

‘Grandmaster' has already evoked interest on account of Mohanlal's new salt n' pepper hair style and trim looks. Unnikrishnan says he had an image of a grey and wizened cop when he wrote this story. So when he conveyed this to the actor, Mohanlal agreed to it and thus was the new image created.

Jagathy Sreekumar, Anoop Menon, Roma and others complete the cast of this film, the first to be produced by UTV. “UTV approached me for a movie and this was a script that I had with me. Happy with the story they read, UTV agreed to produce the film,” says Unnikrishnan.

Removing all misconceptions of a production house like UTV interfering in the script or the plot. Unnikrishnan says he had a free hand in the direction of the film. “In fact, they have approached me for a second film. But I want to take a break and see how this movie fares at the box office before I start work on another,” says the director. Deepak Dev has composed music for lyrics by Chittoor Gopi, Engadiyoor Chandrashekaran and Hari.