Neru director Jeethu Joseph shares the real reason he decided to cast Mohanlal as lawyer Vijayamohan in the movie
It’s exactly 10 years since Mohanlal and Jeethu Joseph’s first collaboration, Drishyam, which went on to become a landmark film in Malayalam cinema as well as their careers, hit theatres. Now, the duo is gearing up for the release of their fourth collaboration, Neru, which is “an emotional courtroom drama," as Jeethu puts it.
Given that it’s a smaller film compared to their previous ventures, Jeethu could have picked any actor to play the lead role of advocate Vijayamohan in Neru, which he had been planning for a decade now. But why team up with Mohanlal again?
Mohanlal hasn’t played such a role in his career: Neru director Jeethu Joseph
“Because in terms of the age of the character, he was the right fit,” Jeethu tells OTTplay, in an exclusive interview. “Also, this isn’t the type of role that he has played in recent years. Even in his entire career, he hasn’t done full-fledged courtroom drama as a lawyer. Other actors have done similar roles before. That’s the prime reason, apart from him being one of the finest actors in our country. So, when a character like this comes, our first choice will always be him.”
The filmmaker also clarifies that though there aren’t any twists or suspense in the film, the audience “can never predict if Vijayamohan will win or lose the case”. But it’s the curiosity of why Mohanlal’s character decides to take up the big commitment to fight the legal battle and how he goes about it that will keep the viewers engaged, he explains.
Was Neru a back-up film when Mohanlal’s L2 Empuraan got delayed?
Neru was fast-tracked after L2: Empuraan actor and director Prithviraj Sukumaran got injured and the much-anticipated project was delayed. Coincidentally, it was Prithviraj’s Bro Daddy that received the similar go-ahead from Mohanlal when 12th Man was pushed due to COVID-19 restrictions in Kerala in 2021.
Ask Jeethu if he has more such projects as contingency plans for producer Aashirvad Cinemas and he tells us, “That’s hardly the case. We could have done Neru earlier, but I was doing Ram. The initial plan was to do this film after Ram. But when that film got delayed, Mohanlal sir’s dates opened up and we decided to do this. That’s all.”
80% of Mohanlal’s Ram is completed: Jeethu Joseph
Further on the shoot of Ram, the filmmaker tells us that about 80% of the movie has already been shot. Ram, which is designed as a duology, has a huge star cast featuring Mohanlal, Trisha Krishnan, Samyuktha Menon, Adil Hussain and Indrajith Sukumaran. “When we get the dates of the cast together, the climate is not favourable, and vice versa,” he tells us, adding that the challenge is to get both sorted soon.
Meanwhile, Jeethu recently wrapped up the shoot of Basil Joseph’s comedy Nunakuzhi, which was co-written by him and KR Krishna Kumar, who had also co-written Kooman and 12th Man.