Actor Dileep dons the garb of a woman in his next film, ‘Mayamohini.'
Dileep is one actor who has always dared to experiment. If he was a loudmouthed hunchback in ‘Kunjikkoonan,' he was an effeminate young man in ‘Chanthupottu.' In ‘Pachakuthira' he essayed the role of a mentally challenged youth and in ‘Meenathil Thalikettu' he appeared as a school boy. Now Dileep is all set to do something that perhaps no hero in Malayalam cinema has ever attempted – to play the role of a woman for virtually the entire duration of a film! “I will play the title role in ‘Mayamohini,' to be directed by Jose Thomas,” says Dileep, in an exclusive interview to Friday Review, while he was shooting for Shyamaprasad's ‘Arike' in Kozhikode.
He says he has already begun preparations for his gender-bender role. “I have shed weight and hope to get even slimmer before the shoot starts in the third week of December. After all I am playing the ‘heroine' to Biju Menon,” says the actor, with a smile. He admits that it is going to be the biggest challenge of his career. “I realise that this is something that has never been done before in Mollywood. I take it up as a challenge because I have faith in my audience. They have always accepted me when I did unconventional roles in films such as ‘Kunjikkoonan' and ‘Chanthupottu.' It is as if they expect something different from me,” he says.
Dileep hopes ‘Mayamohini' would live up to those expectations. “The film has been titled ‘Mayamohini' because Mohini is an avatar of Lord Vishnu. I know it will not be easy to pull off the character of Mayamohini. I have to be fully convincing as a woman. I am playing a modern girl from Mumbai. I have a duet with Biju, whose character doesn't know that the woman is actually a man in disguise. I believe there is an item number in the film too! Such a role is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” says Dileep.
‘Mayamohini' has been scripted by Dileep's most “trusted” pair of scenarists, Udayakrishnan and Siby K. Thomas. “They have come up with an excellent script, with plenty of humour,” says the actor, who adds that he has high expectations of ‘Arike' too. “I didn't have to think twice before accepting ‘Arike.' I have the highest regard for Shyamaprasad both as a director and as a person. I have seen first hand how much he had to struggle to make his debut film ‘Kallukondoru Pennu.' But throughout the process of making the film, I've only seen him smile. In ‘Arike' I play an affable young man called Shantanu. I found his love story appealing and real,” he says.
He insists that ‘Arike' is not an art house movie. “It is like any other film I have done. The only difference is that there is not much of exaggeration, which sometimes happens when we are making a typical commercial film,” says the actor.
Dileep has a busy year ahead, and is looking forward to the release of both ‘Mr. Marumakan,' directed by Sandhya Mohan and ‘Spanish Masala' by Lal Jose. He is a bit disappointed that his last release ‘Orma Mathram' didn't do well at the box office.
“I will, however, continue to associate with such smaller, offbeat films. Blessy's ‘Calcutta News' remains one of my favourites. But we need to have multiplexes for films such as ‘Orma Mathram.' When we have more multiplexes in Kerala, I would like to produce offbeat films,” says the actor who claims that it is a misconception that he is competing with other actors. “I do not compete with other actors, I compete only with my own films. I choose my films carefully, taking calculated risks. For instance, I decided to do ‘Marykkundoru Kunjadu' straight after the success of ‘Karyasthan.' My role in ‘Karyasthan' was full of heroism, while in ‘Marykkundoru Kunjadu' I played a coward,” says the actor. That ‘Marykkundoru Kunjadu' was one of last year's biggest hits only proves that whatever he does, Dileep has a finger on the pulse of the audience.