At a time when young entrants from South are looking to make a strong presence in Bollywood, Malayalam superstar Mohanlal feels that although the reach of Hindi cinema is wider, he has nothing much to prove here as an actor.
Mohanlal made his acting debut in Malayalam cinema in 1978 with Thiranottam but the film was never released due to censorship issues. Later in 1980, he got to play the lead antagonist in his first release Manjil Virinja Pookkal at 20. Then, he went on to do several such roles in various movies before he established himself as a lead actor.
It was after the success of his 1986 film, Rajavinte Makan, that he was labeled a superstar of Malayalam cinema.
"I am working for 33 years there, what should I come and prove in Hindi industry. I am content and happy with my own language. Now if I get a very good and irresistible role then I will try and do a film here. I don’t want to prove anything," Mohanlal told reporters.
"Lot of people, most of the actresses start from South.. they are newcomers they are trying to do Hindi films as the reach is big. There are so many factors. For actors like me it is fine," the 51-year-old said.
In 2002, Mohanlal played the role of a police officer in his first Bollywood movie Company, which introduced him to the Hindi-speaking audience in India. He won the IIFA star screen award for the best supporting actor in the Ram Gopal Varma directed movie.
Again in RGV’s Aag, a remake of Sholay, Mohanlal played the role of the protagonist Narasimham, a cop with a vendetta against the criminal Babban Singh played by Amitabh Bachchan. The movie bombed at the box office.
Ask him why he stayed away from Bollywood films even after being a superstar down South, he said, "I don’t know. Nothing like that."
He feels South films have a smaller reach in comparison to that of Hindi.
"Kerala is a very small place in terms of making films. Hindi films are made for an international market, and we have a very small market. Like Telugu has got a major market in India, Tamil also has a big market.. Malayalam the main markets are: Middle East, Europe but its a small market," Mohanlal said.
"So the difference between south and Hindi films will reflect in all segments from production to song or dance sequences, stories, also. If I am acting in a Malayalam film then it is for Kerala audience so we can chose films that they like. Hindi films are amazing, trying new films, multiplex revolution is there... new method of doing cinema," he said.
Mohanlal would be seen next in Priyadarshan’s action-thriller Tezz alongside Ajay Devgn, Anil Kapoor, Kangana Ranuat, Zayed Khan, Sameera Reddy. The film releases on April 27.
"Unknowingly again, I am playing a police officer in Tezz, it is a small role. But the placement of the role is very critical in the film. I feel it is one of the best films of Priyan as I have seen the film partly, specially the making of the film and the action sequences are amazing. Also, this is my third film with Ajay Devgn, its all happening, I had not planned anything," he said.
On difference while acting in Hindi and regional films, he said, "Nothing much... as lights, camera all same, only the language (changes). (Difference lies in) How you portray yourself in a film with your intelligence and how you put efforts is your entire look out."
"I have done films in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, I don’t find any difference. I am not fluent in Hindi. I used to learn Hindi but no one over there speaks Hindi so it is not that fluent. As far as doing films in various languages is concerned you have to by-heart your dialogues for that," he said.