Cinema Mammootty and Suresh Gopi reprise two popular characters they breathed life into on the silver screen, as the successful team of Shaji Kailas and Renji Panicker reunite to bring ‘The King and the Commissioner' to theatres today. Saraswathy Nagarajan
In the nineties, two larger-than-life characters left an indelible mark on the psyche of filmgoers in Kerala. One was a bureaucrat called Joseph Alex and the other was a police officer called Bharatchandran. For various reasons, these politically incorrect but upright officers struck a chord with viewers in Kerala as the two characters took on the corrupt in the political and bureaucratic establishment. Although expletive-laden dialogues and gender insensitive harangues raised murmurs of distaste and protest, the reel issues the duo was fighting against had its roots in contemporary issues. Perhaps, that is why most viewers were quite happy to welcome the duo with open arms and set the cash registers ringing.
Now, seven years after Bharatchandran, IPS, stormed into the scene, he marches again, this time in the company of Joseph Alex, an officer of the Indian Administrative Service, who scorched the silver screen in the 1995 movie ‘The King.'
Enviable track record
Both these characters were created by mediaperson-turned-scenarist and filmmaker Renji Panicker and filmed by Shaji Kailas. The combination of Renji and Shaji churned out seven back-to-back hits; an enviable track record by all accounts.
“But then we decided that it was time to take a break. There was no rancour whatsoever,” says Shaji.
Agreeing with him, Renji explains: “The burden of expectations was too much. At that point of time, I felt I would not be able to live up to those expectations and come up with another script of the same strength.”
Now, after 16 years, the two are working again and the hype about the film began much before the first scene was canned.
“Initially, the idea was a sequel to ‘The King.' The story of that film could not be carried forward. But we wanted to give new life to Joseph Alex. That is when, due to popular demand, we decided to bring the two characters together in a story,” says Renji.
Adds Shaji: “It was producer Anto Joseph who suggested that we make a film that would feature both these honest officers working together on an issue,” explains Shaji.
He adds that although Suresh Gopi had reservations about the film, once that was sorted out, the film, titled ‘The King and the Commissioner,' was on track. Then it was up to the experienced Renji to work out the script that would give a new direction to ‘The King' and ‘Commissioner.'
Says Renji: “It is a political thriller set in New Delhi where these two Malayali officers are posted. Both of them are investigating a plot that threatens national security. I have often pondered on the fact that many a time, conspiracies and threats against the country are silent on the involvement of the ‘inside hand' in the plot. This movie explores that angle. How every threat to national security must have the support of certain elements within the country.”
Mammootty reprises his role as the irrepressible Josesh Alex. Joseph has been posted as the director of the National Investigation Directorate while Bharatchandran is in charge of internal security.
“Political manipulations, power brokering and the nexus between politicians and bureaucrats are all woven into the script,” says Shaji. He feels that his previous film ‘August 15' did not woo the box office because it lacked the customary power-packed dialogues that are a staple of most Shaji Kailas films. “But this time, it has all the familiar punches that my viewers have enjoyed in my previous films,” adds Shaji.
Process of evolution
Suresh Gopi is gung ho about reliving a character he has immortalised on the screen. “Over the years, along with Suresh Gopi, Bharatchandran has also evolved. My experiences, angst about certain prevailing situations, and immense pride in my country have all become a part of Bharatchandran as well,” says Suresh.
Nedumudi Venu, Devan, Saikumar, K.B. Ganesh Kumar and Samvritha Sunil play important roles in the film. Thespian Mohan Agashe makes his debut in Mollywood through this film.
Renji has the last word: “The fate of the duo will be decided by filmgoers once the movie reaches theatres on Friday.”
Going by their track record, this film ought to be another star in their collection.
These are the seven blockbusters that were made by the Shaji Kailas-Renji Panciker team.
‘Sthalathe Pradhana Payyans'