Director Jude Anthany Joseph pays tribute to actor Mammootty with the new short film Mammookka’s Biography

Even as he is riding high on the success of his debut feature Ohm Shanti Oshaana, director Jude Anthany Joseph is out with his new short film Mammookka’s Biography. The short is directed by Jude and produced by his friends Abraham Mammen, and (actors) Nivin Pauly and Aju Varghese. “The short film is our tribute to Mammootty and is inspired by an episode from the actor’s autobiography Chamayangalillathe (1992). It is a sort of an extended segment of an actual biopic of the actor that I am working on. Nivin will play the lead in the biopic,” says Jude.

It was Nivin, who Jude has known since their days as techies at Infosys, Bangalore, who suggested the idea of making a film based on Mammootty’s memoirs. “Nivin is a huge fan of Mammookka [as Mammootty is endearingly referred to by his fans]. I too read the book and was immediately drawn to the inspiring story of an ordinary young boy who dared to dream big, without any experience in cinema whatsoever. He even knew that he did not then have the looks to be a film star. To think that the young boy became one of Malayalam’s biggest super stars, and is today, even in his 60s, its most glamorous actor ever!” says Jude, buzzing with enthusiasm about the response to the 12-minute short. It has crossed 45,000 views since it was released on YouTube on February 15.

Mammookka’s Biography was actually filmed back in 2011, while Jude himself was dreaming big in cinema. “I was waiting to make a name for myself as a filmmaker before I released the short. Actually, I wanted the biopic to be my first film, but was apprehensive of how the industry and the audience would take to a novice attempting a biopic on their beloved actor and that too, a period film, mainly set in the 50s to the 80s,” explains Jude.

Child actor Jayasurya stars in the lead in the short film. Mukesh Muraleedharan, who will soon be debuting in Mollywood, has cranked the camera, while Shaan Rahman has composed the music. Lijo Paul is the editor. Vineeth Sreenivasan has given the voice-over and Nivin himself has voiced the character of Kocha, Mammootty’s kochappa (father’s younger brother), who encouraged the super star to follow his dreams.

Many of the locations are real, filmed in and around Chempu near Vaikom, Mammootty’s native place. “For research purposes I posed as a journalist and visited Chempu several times over a period of three-four months and spoke at length to the actor’s teachers, friends and acquaintances to get a clearer picture of him. The exterior of Mammookka’s house in the short is his actual home. I jumped a wall and clicked a picture of the house, which Lijo later wove into the film!” says Jude.

So did Mammooty see the short film? “Of course! We showed it to him when he was filming Thappana. He saw it sitting in his trailer and afterwards he stepped outside without saying a word, perhaps to collect himself. He later came back and congratulated us and started asking us technical questions about the film. That’s when I told him of my wish to make the biopic,” says Jude.

The script of the biopic is almost complete. “Mammookka himself is reading through it and has suggested some changes. We don’t know when the biopic will go on the floor but it will happen soon,” says Jude. Meanwhile, Mammootty fans will have to be content with this short glimpse of the boy who became a superstar.