Mohanlal Plays Thakur in Ram Gopal Varma Ka Sholay

mohanlal-in-sholay-makeup.jpg Mohanlal is soft-spoken, affable and gentle to the point of making you wonder how he could have played that passionate spectrum of characters in Malayalam films ranging from “Chithram” to “Minnaram” and “Nirnayam”. His Hindi film appearance as the cerebral and intriguing police commissioner in Ram Gopal Varma’s “Company” was widely appreciated. But it didn’t really translate into a floodgate of opportunities in Hindi cinema for the self-effacing actor.I wasn’t really offered anything exciting. And if I work in a language with which I’m not fully at home I need to work with directors like Priyadarshan (with whom I did ‘Kala Pani’ in Hindi) and Ramu whom I’m comfortable with.” Now Mohanlal is all set to return to Hindi cinema…in “Sholay”, or shall we say “Ram Gopal Varma Ka Sholay”. “And, again, I’m all set to play a cop,” laughs Mohanlal. “Funnily enough, my last film was ‘Udayon’, which means god. And now ‘Naran’ means human. So that’s quite a wide spectrum of characterisations. I’m more than happy with the opportunities I get in the south.” And how excited is versatile Mohanlal about playing the seething Thakur with the amputated hands in “Sholay”? “Ramu is a man of many ideas. When he called me up to offer the role of the Thakur in ‘Sholay’ I wasn’t very sure how to react. ‘Sholay’ is a film that I’ve seen more than once. Every character is so deeply embedded in the audience’s mind. I wonder what Ramu will do!” Mohanlal is also aware that his antagonist in the film will be played by none other than Amitabh Bachchan. “Bachchanji as Gabbar Singh is really a thought that charges all my batteries. I’ve worked with the four greatest southern stalwarts Sivaji Ganesan, Prem Nazir, Raj Kumar and Nageswara Rao. Bachchanji is like all four rolled into one, and more. It would be a truly exceptional experience to work with him in ‘Sholay’.” Was he looking at bettering Sanjeev Kumar’s performance in the original? “Not really. I don’t know what Ramu has in mind. I do know he’s shifting the backdrop to the city. So there’ll be inbuilt changes. My interpretation of the cop’s role would be my own.” Adds Varma, “After deciding on Bachchan for Gabbar Singh I needed someone with a lot of understated self-confidence and a quality of ‘thehrao’ in his personality. In Mohanlal I saw the same qualities that made Sanjeev Kumar so memorable in ‘Sholay’. Of course, he’ll play the role in his own way. This is ‘Ram Gopal Varma Ka Sholay’, remember?

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