Actor Unni Mukundan's recent Malayalam film 'Meyppadiyan' has been received well by audience. The film, which is also his production, sees him playing the lead role of Jayakrishnan. With various known actors from South industries making their debut in Bollywood this year, one wonders if Mukundan too, is planning to take the leap. The actor is open to the idea but is very clear that he won't settle for playing a regular south Indian guy in a Bollywood film. For the actor, who is fluent in Hindi, this seems like a unnecessary step to take since he knows he is can pull off any character in Hindi with ease.
Mukundan's 22 years of living in Ahmadabad got him fluent in Hindi and Gujarati, a quality that makes him confident about his choice of Hindi cinema.
He tells us,"I feel that the problem is when Bollywood approaches actors, even now after OTT exposure and all, there is still the thought that agar south se kisi ko la rahe hai then they will place him as a South Indian guy in films. (That if they are casting someone from South industry then he will be placed as a South Indian guy in the film.) I don't want to play a South Indian guy. If all my life I have played a South Indian guy, then what is the high for me? Mere saath kitni baar hua hai ki they have approached me to play a part and were so impressed with my control on Hindi that they wanted me to speak broken Hindi. I cannot speak broken Hindi because my Hindi is fluent. So, it will be very difficult for me and I will come across as a bad actor. Life if you ask me to speak poor Malayalam, it will be difficult because that is my mother tongue. It becomes awkward."
"When it comes to casting South Indian actors, very few projects have come up where they are ok with a South Indian guy playing something else. If you look at actors from South, they are quite good in Hindi," says Mukundan who adds on a lighter note, "May be it's poor PR from my side and I should tell people that I am fluent in Hindi! I am equally good in Gujarati also."
The 34-year-old actor, who has worked in successful Malayalam films such as 'Bombay March 12', 'Clint', 'Mamankam' and 'Vikramadithya', feels he wants to do justice to the Hindi films he takes up and not be part of it just for the heck of it.
"With due respect to all the projects that have come my way, I have had to say no because I would love to do a proper Hindi film. I feel I can manage because I have grown up watching Hindi films. I don't want to do just another film. I have got films, I produce films, I write songs, do my own playback but doing just another Hindi film will be just an add on to my career. It might look like a debut to many but according to me I have done 10-20 films and I already have a career behind me. So, I want to do something that I haven't done."
Even though the actor's Hindi debut is yet to happen, his tryst with Bollywood started in 2000 when Hrithik Roshan's debut film 'Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai' released. The Roshan junior's life and journey ignited a spark in Mukundan, that he still remembers.
"When 'Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai' released, I saw an article which read something on the lines of 'fortnight superstar has arrived' and I was like 'what does that mean' and then I read it was about Hrithik Roshan. we didn't have cable connection at home back then and two years later, I saw 'Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai' and was completely awe of him. He was so different, looked so different from other actors and brought different aesthetics to cinema in terms of looks and body building." recalls Mukundan.
He adds, "At that age you don't realise how hard that person had worked. For me it was the fact that someone's life changed overnight. I started reading so much about Hrithik that I started to connect with him. I had stammering problem during the earlier stages of my life and I read Hrithik had similar problem. At 23, I started my speech therapy. Even now sometimes I get nervous and I stammer but I always looked up to him and somewhere down the line he inspired me. Then I started doing theatre," recalls Mukundan.
Coming back to 'Meypaddiyan', the actor, who will soon be seen in Malayalam film 'Bro Daddy' alongside Prithviraj and Mohanlal and Telugu film Yashoda with Samantha Ruth Prabhu, took a huge risk with backing a film financially during uncertain Covid times. But he says, he knew he had a good film at hand.
"You have got to take that leap of trust and those critical hours I think I had to backed my film. The movie goers were quite adamant to the fact that this guy is just going ahead and why? The only answer I had was that I had a good movie at hand and I wasn't doing anything illegal. The Central and State Government and health department had given us the permission to screen movies with 50 percent occupancy, so why shouldn't I?" he says..
The actor adds, "I was very confident on my part that way. I tremendously promoted my film and it sold like hot cakes. I wasn't confident as a producer just because I was acting but I knew I had a genuinely good film."