Utpal Borpujari

October 10, 2008

Mohanlal’s Nair San with Jackie Chan cameo to bring alive forgotten hero


The superstar is excited about his latest assignment to play Nair San in a biopic to be shot in India, Japan and Mongolia, reports Utpal Borpujari



Mohanlal, Malayalam cinema’s superstar and one of India’s finest actors, has essayed many a fascinating character in his long screen career, working with some top directors. So, when he says that rarely does an actor come across a role like that of Nair San, one has to sit up and take it seriously. Indeed, Nair San, a film in Japanese and Malayalam to be directed by Chennai Film Institute alumni Albert has all the potential to be great cinema.


To be shot extensively in Japan as well as India and Mongolia, the film also has action superhero Jackie Chan in a cameo, and while Mohanlal will obviously act in the title role of Nair San, the film’s makers are considering Mumbai star Anil Kapoor, Anupam Kher, Lara Dutta and Japanese actress Koyuki for major roles.


Nair San’s is a story waiting to be told. Like so many great heroes of India’s Freedom Struggle whose stories have never travelled outside their respective regions, his story too has remained restricted mostly within Kerala. Addressed as Nair San by the Japanese, Ayyappan Pillai Madhavan Nair’s life story is a captivating one. A highly-respected industrialist in Japan, Thiruvananthapuram-born Nair had gone to Japan as an engineering student during the Freedom Struggle. The story goes that he was sent so that he was kept away from his rebellious activities back home.


But in Japan, he got in touch with the likes of Subhash Chandra Bose, Rash Behari Bose, Pratap Singh, Barkatullah and many others, and, in fact, went on to become Netaji’s Japanese translator as well as a key member of the Indian National Army. Though he actively campaigned against the British from Japan and some other Asian countries, he kept himself away from politics after India’s Independence. He was awarded the order of Merit of the Sacred Treasure by Emperor Hirohito in 1984. And not to be forgotten, it was he who had raised a protest when after India won the 1964 Olympics hockey gold in Tokyo, the Pakistani national anthem was played by mistake.

With scope to perform a great character like this, Mohanlal is visibly worked up. As he says, “See, I am from a place called Kerala, and once is a blue moon, actors like me get the chance to do a film like this.” Around 160 days shooting of the film will be done in Japan and Mongolia, he says.

“Nair San’s is a story that deserves to be told in such a big scale, as his life was an extraordinary one. I am sure Albert will be able to bring him alive in an international standard film,” Mohanlal says.

Albert, whose debut film Kanne Madanguka in 2005 was screened at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa as part of Indian Panorama, got the idea to make the film when he tried to find out about the Nair San Hall near his house at Mudavanmugal in Thiruvananthapuram. He found out more details about the man from a Tamil translation of Nair’s biography, and was immediately taken in by the persona behind the man. In his director’s note on the film, Albert says, “The topic is so thrilling that it will surely capture the mind of the cinema lovers all over the world.”

With music by A R Rahman, the film with an estimated budget of 12.5 million dollars will surely be a film worth waiting for.

 (Published in Sakaal Times, www.sakaaltimes.com, 10-10-2008)


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