Dileep is the ‘heroine' in ‘Mayamohini.'
She is all set to enchant the silver screen from tomorrow. Curiosity factor is high as actor Dileep steps out as Mohini, a modern-day enchantress, in ‘Mayamohini,' directed by Jose Thomas.
It is, after all, the first time in Malayalam cinema that a hero is playing, well, the heroine.
“I am the heroine; I do whatever a heroine is expected to do,” says Dileep, adding that the role of Mohini has been the “most challenging one yet” in his career thus far. But, then again, he is known for playing unconventional characters in films such as ‘Chandupottu,' ‘Kunjikkoonan,' and ‘Thilakkam.'
“Essaying Mohini was a big challenge physically too, as I had to transform into a beautiful woman and seduce three men! A lot of the credit for that goes to make-up artiste G. Roshan and costume designer Sameera Saneesh. Getting into the skin of a woman wasn't easy and it took me a bit of time,” says Dileep, with a laugh.
He seems delighted with the response he has got for the few stills and videos of ‘Mayamohini' that have gone viral. “It makes me more confident. When the first photo of me as Maya was splashed on the cover of a women's magazine, I got a text message from Mohanlal, who said I was a blessed artiste and that was why I could carry off the look convincingly. That was a huge morale booster. The feedback I got from women on the sets of ‘Mayamohini' also boosted my confidence. A lot of them said I looked better in a sari than many women they knew and that even my threaded eyebrows looked better than theirs!”
He adds that many people took him for a woman on the sets. “They thought I was a new heroine,” he chuckles, as director Jose corroborates: “A producer who came to the location actually asked me who the debutante in my film was! There were many occasions when I myself thought that I was talking to a real woman when I was actually conversing with Dileep in costume. Not only did he get the looks right, but his body language was also spot on,” says the director whose last film with the actor was ‘Udayapuram Sulthan' (1999).
‘Mayamohini' tells the tale of a man who is forced to act and dress as a woman due to certain circumstances. “I was confident that Dileep would be able to do the role after seeing him in ‘Chandupottu' and ‘Kunjikkoonan.' I couldn't have made this film with any other actor,” avows Jose.
The film stars Biju Menon, Lakshmi Rai, Mythili, and Baburaj in prominent roles. “I play Dileep's husband in the film. Because Dileep acted like a regular heroine, my job was easier,” says Biju. Lakshmi says she was bowled over by Dileep's dedication. “I have never seen an actor working so hard for a role. He took total care of his make-up and costumes, more than we heroines usually do. In fact, he seemed more feminine than any woman on the set, including myself! He reminded me of a heroine from a different era, shy, yet sexy. He remained in character throughout and he was like a ‘sister' to me. One of the highlights of the film is a dance sequence featuring both of us, and undoubtedly, he looks better than me in it,” she laughs.
Costume designer Sameera is also full of praise for Dileep. Says Sameera: “Dressing up Dileep as a woman has been my toughest challenge as a costume designer. But he was so cooperative that it made my task easier. When I told him that if he could pierce his ears, I could add matching earrings, he immediately agreed; when I suggested he wear high heels, he began practising walking in heels. Designing female costumes for a man is difficult, because a man's body is totally different from that of a woman. For example, a man's shoulders are broader than a woman's, and you have to keep things like that in my mind while you design. It was only after three or four tests that I finally decided on Dileep's costumes. In the film, he is dressed mostly in chiffon saris because I thought he looked prettiest in Indian costumes. But he can carry off Western wear too with panache.”