Of banks and bankers

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Contemporary theme: (clockwise from top left) Mohanlal, Ajmal and Mallika Kapur, Kavya Madhavan and director B. Unnikrishnan.
Contemporary theme: (clockwise from top left) Mohanlal, Ajmal and Mallika Kapur, Kavya Madhavan and director B. Unnikrishnan.


Mohanlal-starrer `Madambi,' which narrates the story of a rural moneylender, reaches theatres today.

Instead of banking on star power, B. Unnikrishnan, director of ‘Madambi,’ releasing today, is betting on the story and the theme to set the cash registers ringing. Unnikrishnan, who has proved himself on the small screen as a scriptwriter and director with a bagful of awards, has invested his hopes in the story of a rural moneylender called ‘blade’ Gopalakrishnan.

“It is a very different Mohanlal that you are going to see in my film. Puthenveetil Gopalakrishnan, popularly called ‘blade’ Gopalakrishnan, is a rural moneylender with his own code of conduct. While the world knows him as a do-gooder, he comes across as a martinet in his family,” narrates Unnikrishnan, who has also scripted the story.

Taking a break from his tautly woven thrillers and fast-paced narratives, Unnikrishnan’s says he has developed a story on relationships. Very different from his maiden directorial venture on the big screen, ‘Smart City.’

Change of track

“I wanted a change and this was something I always wanted to do,” is his explanation for the change of track. True to his style of having a twist or a turn in the storyline, ‘Madambi’ too has an interesting set of characters who do not quite fit the mould of the characters seen in Malayalam Cinema.

“For instance, unlike the syrupy mother-son bond celebrated in our films, this one is tinged with a fair amount of bitterness and animosity. The story will unfold why mother and son have such an uneasy relationship. KPAC Lalitha has come up with a superlative performance as the mother,” says the director. Agreeing with him, KPAC Lalitha says that it is a role she had been waiting for some time.

“I share a tense relationship with Mohanlal, who plays my eldest son. And it is only towards the end of the film that she begins to understand her eldest son. A melodious song has been tuned by Jayachandran. Every one had tears in their eyes when that scene was canned. My pet is the younger son, Ramakrishnan, played by Ajmal,” she says.

Ajmal admits he has high hopes. “It is my first film with Lal Sir and my second film in Malayalam. My character Ramakrishnan’s profile evolves in the film. Circumstances change the playful, slightly irresponsible Ramakrishnan into a person of substance. Even though he is not in every frame, even his absence adds a twist to the story,” explains Ajmal, who is riding high on the success of his Tamil film ‘Anjaathe.’ The young star says that sharing screen space with veterans such as Mohanlal, Kavya Madhavan, Innocent and Jagathy Srikumar did not make him nervous.

“Instead, it is a heavy responsibility to meet their standards of acting. Each of us has to make our roles click. What is special about ‘Madambi’ is that each character has been well etched out and each has its place of importance in the story. My heroine in the film is newcomer Mallika Kapur, a model,” he adds.

‘Madambi’ also is a first for Kavya Madhavan, who has been paired opposite Mohanlal for the first time.

Kavya and Mohanlal?

“Why not?” says Unnikrishnan. “There is only a suggestion of a romance between them and both of them have breathed life into their roles,” adds the director.

Fourth film

“Actually it is my fourth film with Lalettan [Mohanlal]. The difference is that I am his heroine in ‘Madambi.’ My character is a smart bank manager who has to start a new-generation bank in this rural area where Gopalakrishnan is the bank,” narrates Kavya.

Lavishing praise on the cast, Unnikrishnan says that each of the actors has done justice to their characters. “Mohanal, KPAC Lalitha, Kavya Madhavan, Ajmal, Innocent, Jagathy Srikumar… they are all veteran actors.”

Mohanlal, who has not had a superhit in the first half of 2008, may also be banking on ‘Madambi’ to reclaim his position as a winner at the box office too. Unnikrishnan is all praise for the actor’s attitude and histrionic skills. “He is one the best actors and he is an asset to every director. Mohanlal’s involvement in the film and the character has to be seen to be believed.”

Filmed by newcomer Vijay Ulkanath, the film has been shot in picturesque locations in Ottapalam. The director feels that the songs, composed by Girish Puthencherry and tuned by M. Jayachandran will work in favour of the film.



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