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Kasargold director Mridul Nair: It took me 5 years to get Asif Ali’s dates even though he’s my best friend

Mridul Nair explains how RRR and Bheeshma Parvam led him to scale up Kasargold and his equation with Asif Ali

Kasargold director Mridul Nair: It took me 5 years to get Asif Ali’s dates even though he’s my best friend
Mridul Nair and Asif Ali on the sets of Kasargold

Last Updated: 02.06 PM, Sep 13, 2023


Any filmmaker who has approached Malayalam actor Asif Ali after the debacle of Asuravithu, with a ‘mass’ role would tell you about how apprehensive the Kaapa and 2018 star is about doing such roles. This stems partially from how he himself finds it unconvincing that he can pull off these characters. But in recent years, in movies such as Underworld and B Tech – both helmed by friends Jean Paul Lal and Mridul Nair, respectively, the actor seems to have once again grown comfortable in the garb of an ‘mass’ hero.

Mridul, who has teamed up with Asif again for the September 15 release Kasargold, has pushed him this time to go all-out in a pacy and ‘massy’ thriller that revolves around gold smuggling. In an exclusive interview with OTTplay, the filmmaker talks about how RRR led him to scaling up the film, what to expect from it and his equation with Asif – the friend and actor.

A still from the trailer of Kasargold
A still from the trailer of Kasargold

You were set to work with Asif in Thattam Vellattam soon after BTech. But the pandemic meant a shift of plans. So, how did you land on the story on Kasargold?

During the lockdown, we want to work on a small film that can be shot in my friend’s resort, which was set to be sold. Kasargold’s story is inspired from multiple true events. I recalled a news piece that I had seen, and narrated it to Asif. He liked it and we decided to do it. But by then, the lockdown had concluded and he once again got busy with his prior commitments. So, the project was put on hold for a while.

When RRR and Bheeshma Parvam had released, we wanted to work on a ‘mass’ film that would give a theatrical experience to the audience. So, we rewrote the script and that’s how we reached here.

Poster of Kasargold
Poster of Kasargold

Asif himself has said that he never feels at ease doing ‘mass’ roles, especially after Asuravithu. But his scenes in your film BTech did present him in a different light.

That’s what gave me the confidence too. In BTech, there’s a second intro for Asif’s character, where lights a cigarette when Arjun Ashokan’s character is being ragged. It got a lot of applause in theatres. Also, I have always felt that Asif has a good screen presence and that he could easily pull off these roles. So, he was always a natural choice for me.

From the trailer, Kasargold seems to be a movie that progresses at a feverish pace. Is that how the film is?

The idea was to create that atmosphere of chaos on screen. People are now fed up with films about real-life struggles; everyone is facing one challenge or the other anyways. When they come to theatres, we wanted the audience to get the cinematic experience – from the loud background score to stylish, frenetic edits. When someone does things on screen that we can’t in real life, we call them a hero. We don’t look at logic or how real it is. We were awestruck when tigers and leopards were leaping out of the cages in RRR.

Right now, only two kinds of movies work; it either has to be an out-and-out comedy or a ‘mass’ film that would provide a theatre experience. Since I had already burnt my hands with Instagraamam, a comedy, I wanted to try doing a ‘mass’ film with Kasargold.


Kasargold revolves around gold smuggling that has a lot of relevance. But every ‘mass’ film has a template. So, how much have you steered away from that?

As I said earlier, Kasargold is based on a true story. But it’s a film that, to put it colloquially, doesn’t touch the ground. The story flies at that feverish pace from the beginning to the end. When I wrote it, Asif and Sunny were very much my first choice for the respective roles. Vinayakan came in, much later.

You are one of Asif’s closest friends and you have seen him grow as an actor. How much does it also help having someone like him around to pitch projects?

I have known for a decade now; we met during Kili Poyi. Now, if you ask me or him, I would say he’s my best friend and vice versa. So, I have seen him evolve as an actor for 10 years. That said, we spend time together – during our conversations or trips, we don’t talk about cinema at all.

I know he is a brilliant actor because of the kind of effort he puts in for every project. Also, it was never easy for me to get his dates. After B Tech, he took me five years to get him to do another film with me, even though he’s my best friend. That’s because he’s very selective when it comes to his movies. You have to convince him as a filmmaker more than a friend.

Right now, he’s in a very good space where he knows what he can do. A few days ago, he joined G Prajesh Sen’s Houdini: The King of Magic and the previous night, he was with me. He was tense, like a kindergarten student moving to Class 1. There are certain things that he wants to do and he is putting in a lot of effort to do that. That’s the reason he is growing as an actor.

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