The movie, directed by B Unnikrishnan and scripted by Udaykrishna, has Mohanlal playing a character named Neyyattinkara Gopan
There’s probably no better film than a ‘mass’ family entertainer to revive the theatres that have been shut for a major part of the pandemic. And that’s probably why Mohanlal and director B Unnikrishnan Aaraattu is expected to be a huge draw for theatres across Kerala.
Scripted by Udaykrishna, who has written the screenplays of blockbusters such as Pulimurugan and co-written films including Twenty: 20 and Pokkiri Raja.
Aaraattu, which was the first big-budget Malayalam movie to begin shooting after the lockdown restrictions were lifted, was reportedly made on a budget of almost Rs 20 crore in 2020.
The multi-starrer has a huge cast featuring Mohanlal, Shraddha Srinath, Siddique, Saikumar, Dhruvan, Swasika, Nedumudi Venu, Neha Saxena, Vijayaraghavan, Rachana Narayanankutty, Indrans, Senthil Krishna, Renji Panicker, Alencier Lopez, Sadhika Venugopal and Surabhi Lakshmi.
The movie also has notable cameos from AR Rahman, who will be playing himself, and drummer Sivamani, who will appear in a song sequence.
What is Aaraattu’s plot?
The movie revolves around Mohanlal’s character called Neyyattinkara Gopan, a land dealer, who travels from Thiruvananthapuram to Palakkad to check on the land he has bought. However, on reaching the place, he empathises with the plight of the people who are unlawfully evicted by the real estate mafia through the support of the authorities.
The movie, set against a rural backdrop, has Kannada actress Shraddha Srinath playing an IAS officer named Sethulakshmi, who works as the Revenue Divisional Officer in Palakkad. Aaraattu is Shraddha’s second Malayalam film after Kohinoor. She is not the only Kannada actress in the movie as Sanjjana Galrani too will be seen in a special dance track.
The movie's main villain is played by KGF actor Garuda Ram. John Vijay is also part of the movie.
Does Aaraattu have ‘mass’ action scenes?
Yes, and plenty. As the shoot was done during the pandemic when most of the filmmakers had opted for indoor shoots and rooted-to-reality stories, the team of Aaraattu decided to go ahead with the entertainer by bringing in a stunt team from outside the State and performing those sequences by following all required protocols.
In fact, the makers had allotted Rs 30 lakh for COVID-19 precautions and hired multiple hotels for the cast and crew that were in a bio bubble till the shoot was over. The stunt team especially, as they couldn’t maintain social distance due to their job, were housed separately.
The movie was shot in Ottapalam and Ooty with the renowned Varikkasseri Mana serving as a main location.
Why is Aaraattu a must watch for fans?
The makers have already announced that they want the movie to be a treat for all fans. And hence Udaykrishna, who worked with Mohanlal in movies such as Pulimurugan and Christian Brothers, and Unnikrishnan, who has collaborated with the superstar in Mr Fraud, Grandmaster, Madambi and Villain, pulled all stops to make it a treat for die-hard Mohanlal fans with comedy and action elements.
Mohanlal’s character in the movie will drive a vintage Mercedes Benz with the number plate 2255, which is a reference to the actor’s dialogue from Rajavinte Makan that catapulted him to superstardom in 1986.
The movie also has AR Rahman in a song sequence that comes at an integral point in the film, said Unnikrishnan in an interview, adding that the composer agreed to be part of the film because he was also a fan of Mohanlal. The superstar and music director had worked in the film Yodha, which also marked Rahman’s debut in Malayalam. Their sequence for Aaraattu was filmed in Chennai in March 2021.
When will Aaraattu release?
Aaraattu will release in theatres only after Mohanlal’s Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham. Unnikrishnan, who has also co-produced Aaraattu, in an earlier interview with OTTplay said, “I am sitting on a Rs 39Cr film and paying interest of almost Rs 20 lakh every month. As a theatre owner, I am paying another Rs 10 lakh, so that’s Rs 3.6 Cr a year as interest. Investments in the industry work based on a few calculations and we expect the turnaround time to be about 90 days. That’s hardly the case now, so the industry is in dire straits.”
Though the distribution rights of Aaraattu have been bagged by Zee, Unnikrishnan says that currently it doesn’t make sense to release the movie directly on OTTs. “The problem with releasing big films like Marakkar and Aaraattu is that we also have to account for what happens globally and not just in Kerala. Right now, we haven’t looked for any other alternative than to release in theatres, but once driven against the walls, there’s a limit to which we can hold on to the movies,” he says.
With Kerala withdrawing the night curfew and weekend lockdown and mulling reopening of educational institutes, theatres too could follow suit. Irrespective of its platform, Aaraattu promises to be a fun ride for fans and family, when it drops.