Both Jeethu Joseph and Prithviraj Sukumaran are responsible for Aashirvad Cinemas’ biggest hits
It’s not surprise that producer Antony Perumbavoor’s two go-to directors at times of crisis are Prithviraj Sukumaran and Jeethu Joseph. The reason being that they are responsible for two of the biggest blockbusters in Malayalam cinema – Lucifer and Drishyam.
Both movies have been produced by Aashirvad Cinemas, which has only backed films starring Mohanlal except for Jeethu Joseph’s Aadi that introduced the superstar’s son Pranav Mohanlal. And to top it off, both films have been gifts that keep on giving for the producer and everyone involved – with Drishyam continuing to spawn remakes, the latest being a Korean version, and sequels, while the Lucifer franchise could break open new markets and revenue channels for Malayalam cinema on an international level in terms of distribution, overseas rights and even spin-off models in OTT as well as other film industries.
But aside from the revenue these collaborations bring, both Prithviraj and Jeethu have also served as reliable back-ups for the production house and its marquee player – Mohanlal. On July 13, Malayalam film fans woke up to the news that Mohanlal and Jeethu Joseph were teaming up again for an upcoming project. This, by the way, marks their fourth collaboration for Aashirvad Cinemas after Drishyam 1 and 2 and 12th Man.
For a lot of fans, this puts an end to the speculation on when Prithviraj’s L2: Empuraan will begin. The makers themselves had initially announced that the shoot of the much-awaited sequel was set to start in August and had even pitched a date for the pooja function. While we don’t know whether the pooja function has been changed, one thing that the latest announcement confirms is that Mohanlal will indeed be doing a Malayalam movie with Aashirvad Cinemas in August, just that it won’t be with Prithviraj at the helm, but with Jeethu.
This is not the first time that producer Antony had tried to expertly swap Prithviraj and Jeethu’s projects. During the pandemic, when the latter had begun work on 12th Man, but the weather conditions and Kerala government’s pandemic restrictions weren’t too favourable for a shoot of such a movie that also had outdoor portions, the producer decided to get Prithviraj’s directorial Bro Daddy rolling in Hyderabad.
The dates of the other actors were more easily available back then, especially with far fewer projects happening during the pandemic. The producer was already in talks with Disney+ Hotstar to release a select number of projects to the platform with Mohanlal, who was already its quasi brand ambassador as the face of Bigg Boss Malayalam, in the lead. Safe to say, Antony’s first choices were directors Jeethu Joseph, with whom he and the superstar had tasted OTT success in February 2021 with Drishyam 2, Prithviraj, Vysakh, who is responsible for the highest-grossing Malayalam film Pulimurugan back then, and Shaji Kailas, who had helmed Aashirvad Cinemas’ first-ever production Narasimham.
What also makes Jeethu a safe bet this time is the filmmaker’s ability to wrap up the shoot, well ahead of the planned schedule. This would mean, even if L2: Empuraan’s shoot has been pushed just by a month, Mohanlal will be able to join the sets. Either way, it’s a win-win situation for the superstar and the production house as a Jeethu Joseph-Mohanlal collaboration will have as much hype going for it as the sequel of Lucifer. Now, imagine if Jeethu pulls off a stunt similar to his Drishyam movies, by unveiling that the upcoming movie is indeed Drishyam 3.