Mohan Sharma, of the original ‘Chattakari' fame, is all set for the theatre release of his film as director

Remember the tall and handsome actor who sent many a heart fluttering with his romantic characters in Malayalam films like ‘Nellu,' ‘Prayanam' and Chattakari'? After pounding the studios, playing various roles, producing a few films, Mohan suddenly disappeared from the scene. He returned after a long hiatus playing character roles in films and television serials.

Life certainly seems to have come a long way for this actor, the first Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) acting graduate from the South. Now, Mohan, who prefers to be called Mohan Sharma, is on a different wicket. His first directorial venture, a bilingual ‘Gramam' (‘Namma Gramam' in Tamil), is set for a theatrical release on July 6.

The film won two National awards and two Kerala State Awards (2011), a lot of critical acclaim and Mohan feels that it is time for the discerning public to pass their verdict.

It has certainly not been an overnight success for this actor-producer-director. He has been scoring points for years, put in almost a huge part of his savings into what he terms his dream project.

‘Gramam' is the first part of a trilogy on the Palakkad Brahmin community. Mohan has written the story, script and dialogues apart from directing and acting in it. In a sense the film marks the coming of a full circle for this man from the Palakkadan village of Thathamangalam.

Dream project

The first part tells the story of the community between 1937 and 1947. “I have been carrying this dream all along, a film of my heart's desire. Personally, I feel this is an important film from the historical perspective. The Brahmin community in Palakkad had a patriarchal set-up when in the rest of the place it was a matriarchal society. Life, especially that of a woman, was tough in this milieu. Women were always shunned to the sidelines, were married off young. ‘Gramam' is the story of a child widow and how she fights societal conventions. The film is an attempt to hold a mirror to this society in different times,” says Mohan who was in the city as part of the film's release.

The second film will be set between 1947 and 1962, the time when the community started migrating to the cities because of the agrarian revolution. This film is also ready. And the third film is set between 1962 and 1975, trying times for the community in cities like Mumbai where they bore the brunt of attack from people who termed them outsiders.

“I have adhered firmly to the cinematic idiom maintaining, very conspicuously a sub-text. The characters and situations in the film convey more than what is seen on the screen. You can call it an inter-legible film that calls for a thorough reading, sometimes between the layers of meaning, the layers of text.”

‘Gramam' won National awards for Sukumari (Best Supporting Actress) and Best Costume (Indrans Jayan), and Kerala State Award for Best Story and Best Classical singer for Mohan and Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna respectively. The film stars Nishaan, Samvrutha, Nedumudi Venu, Sukumari, Mohan Sharma, Y. G. Mahendraa, Nalini and Fathima Babu in important roles. Madhu Ambat cranks the camera.

“‘Gramam' has given me a lot of satisfaction. I think it has also satisfied the critics. Now it must also do well on the revenue side. The Malayalam version will first be released in Kerala. The climate is congenial for good films in the State and I'm sure the audience will accept it. If so I could say I have crossed the Rubicon,” says Mohan with a laugh.