Directed by Jeethu Joseph, the film is the keenly anticipated sequel to his 2013 Malayalam-language blockbuster “Drishyam,” a thriller where Mohanlal plays a cable TV operator who deploys an elaborate ruse to save his family from a murder charge. The film, one of the all-time box office champions in the language, spawned several remakes featuring major stars. It was remade in the Kannada language as “Drishya,” starring Ravichandran, in 2014; in Telugu as “Drushyam,” starring Venkatesh, in 2014; in Hindi as “Drishyam,” starring Ajay Devgn, in 2015; in Tamil as “Papanasam,” starring Kamal Haasan, in 2015; and in Sinhala, as “Dharmayuddhaya,” starring Jackson Anthony, in 2017.
The film was also remade in Chinese in 2019 as “Sheep Without a Shepherd,” and went on to gross $192 million.
In the sequel, also directed by Joseph, the narrative picks up six years after the events of the first film. Mohanlal is now a movie theater owner, and must deal with the police again as they reopen the case. The film was born as a response to COVID-19. Big-budget multi-language period epic “Marakkar: Lion of the Arabian Sea,” starring Mohanlal, was due to release worldwide in March 2020, until the pandemic stymied those plans.
“At the COVID time, the entire film industry was totally dead,” Mohanlal tells Variety. “So, we thought of making a film that will bring people back to the theaters. We thought of ‘Drishyam 2.’ It was just a thought process, and it happened. We planned it for a theatrical release. Unfortunately, theaters are open, but still in a dilemma, people are not willing to come.”
The star says that on the day the production signed with Amazon, cinemas began reopening. “I am happy that the entire world can watch ‘Drishyam 2’,” says Mohanlal, adding that the scenario isn’t still right for a theatrical release. “We are thrilled that audiences in India and 240 countries and territories will get to watch ‘Drishyam 2’ anytime, anywhere.”
Mohanlal is also working with Joseph on globetrotting action thriller “Ram.” Half of the film has been shot already. The rest of the film is set in the U.K. and the production is waiting for matters to normalize before embarking on that leg of the shoot.
The global rollout of “Marakkar” is also predicated on normalization. “We cannot release the film only in Malayalam” says Mohanlal. “It has Tamil, Telugu and Hindi versions, and is going to be an international release, in the Middle East, the U.S. and Europe. When everything settles and people are back to the theaters, only then can we release.”
Mohanlal is one of the most respected actors from India. Through his four-decade long career spanning 365 films, from his breakthrough role in “Manjil Virinja Pookkal” (1980) onwards, he has been alternating crowd-pleasing roles with intense performances. His acting has been honored at India’s National Film Awards five times, including for “Vanaprastham” (1999), which debuted at Cannes in the Un Certain Regard strand. He says roles like those “has to come, I am also waiting.”
Meanwhile, the actor is busy with action-comedy “Aaraattu,” which he describes as a “100% mass film where people can celebrate the film in theaters. Those kind of films should run in theaters, with full crowds. It’s a film made for the fans, a 100% entertainer.”