That director Vinayan has decided to come up with a biographical movie on Kalabhavan Mani doesn’t come as a surprise; because the actor in Mani was much explored in Vinayan’s films. The director had done 13 films with Mani which brought him out of the comedy roles he was doing till then. The roles in Vinayan movies are the ones that garnered him much appreciation, especially the blind man’s character in Vasanthiyum Lakshmiyum Pinne Njanum which won him national recognition.
A film based on the life of late Mani is currently being planned by Vinayan. “Yes, the scripting is going on. I knew him better than any anyone else in the industry. He had deserved much bigger credit for his versatility, but the industry gave him only a backseat even when he came up with outstanding performances.”
So, who will be playing Mani? Vinayan reveals that he has no plans to cast any of the present actors. “I will go for a newcomer. It is not possible to present the story with the current actors. Mani came from a Dalit background and had faced the brunt of it from the industry itself. He had a certain complex while performing in an industry which was largely colour-conscious. Anyway, he was known as the black pearl of Mollywood. So I have decided to bring in a new actor to perform his role.”
But, could a newcomer do justice to the character? “Well, the actors I have introduced such as Jayasurya and Indrajith have made their names, so this one too will, I am sure,” a confident Vinayan says.
Asked if the story would address the controversies surrounding the actor’s death, Vinayan replies, “Well, the movie will mainly focus on the rise of Mani as an actor, especially coming from a Dalit background and his struggle to survive in the industry. Again, the theme will be ‘cinema within cinema.’ Well, there is stark difference between how people talk and act. All these will be exposed in the movie, which is yet to be titled.”
On his next project, he says, “My next movie Irulinte Naalukal is based on history — on how women in the 19th century had to deal with breast tax and the story of the woman Nangeli who protested against it.”