Photo: (From left): Priyadarshan, Sathyan Anthikad, Mohanlal, Ranjith and Balachandran Chullikad
By Shevlin Sebastian
“Many years ago, all of us used to meet at the Woodlands hotel,” says noted director Sathyan Anthikad. “Now, after a long gap, we are all together once again.”
Anthikad was talking at the book release of Mohanlal’s book, ‘Hridayathinte kayyoppu’ (the Signature of the Heart), the collection of his blog writings, published by Mathrubhumi Books. Present on the dais were directors Priyadarshan and Ranjith, poet Balachandran Chullikad, and Mathrubhumi Deputy Editor S. Krishnankutty, apart from Mohanlal.
“Mohanlal is a person with a heart,” says Anthikad. “It is very difficult to maintain a quarrel with him. I stayed away for many years but when we met, it seemed as if there was no gap. Today, Mohanlal has reached a stature beyond our imagination.”
Many people were surprised to know that Mohanlal is a writer. “But I have always known him to write poems instantly,” said Anthikad. “He can also write stories quickly. And today, he writes a blog where he did make a mention of the TP Chandrasekharan murder.”
Priyardarshan said that even though he knew Mohanlal for many years, he was not aware that he was a writer. “So the book did come as a surprise,” he said.
As for poet Balachandran Chullikad, he said, “For 30 years, people know Mohanlal as an actor. Through this book, I have come to know the mind of a great artiste. It is a book from the heart.”
Balachandran quoted the great American poet, Walt Whitman: ‘I am large, I contain multitudes.’ The poet went on reciting shlokas and verses from Shakespeare, and made references to legendary Western artistes like Charlie Chaplin and Isadora Duncan.
Director Ranjith said, tongue in cheek, “People always say you should not release a film at the same time as Sathyan Anthikad. That is the case with me, when I am talking just after Balachandran’s brilliant speech.”
Ranjith said that it is only when you come to known Mohanlal well that you become aware that he knows everything that is happening in the world. “I hope he continues writing,” he said.
Throughout, as speaker after speaker praised him, Mohanlal stared intensely, his concentration never wavering, sitting still, in a black shirt and stone-washed jeans and red leather shoes.
When it was his turn to speak, he said, “I believe in something extraordinary happening all the time. And this book is one such incident.” The superstar spoke about how he started writing casually on his blog, but with one difference: he wrote by hand. “I am not computer savvy at all,” he said. Incidentally, the blog can be found on www.completeactor.com.
Mohanlal then went on to praise Jayachandran Nair, the editor of Malayalam Weekly, the sister publication of The New Indian Express. “Jayachandran created a revolution in Malayalam journalism,” said Mohanlal. “He was instrumental in discovering many new writers. So I am deeply honoured that he has written the foreword to my book.”
The superstar then made a poignant statement: “I have very little time to be Mohanlal the person. However, thanks to the blog, I am able to express my deepest thoughts.”
It was a scintillating evening, with superb speeches by some of the stalwarts of the Malayalam film industry. In short, one was in the company of remarkable people.
(The New Indian Express, Kerala edition)