Even as the burning issue of women’s entry to the Sabarimala Temple has caught national attention, another announcement about Ayyapan from Mollywood has piqued the interest of movie-goers. Prithviraj is all set to star as Ayyapan in the eponymous film, which is written and directed by Shankar Ramakrishnan.
Before there’s any controversy, the film’s producer Shaji Nadesan tells us, “It will tell the authentic life story of Ayyappan. The deity worshipped in Sabarimala is a form of Shasta, but the movie will focus on his life as a man. Ayyappan was a prince, a warrior and a revolutionary, and the research for the film has mined those stories from Pandalam Palace.”
Shaji says that Shankar and his team have been working on the script for the past two years. “Ayyapan is revered by Indians around the world. So, we are approaching it as a big budget movie and have planned to release it in five languages – Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Hindi and Kannada. It will also have an English version. We are planning to cast actors from all the languages too,” he adds.
As for the technical team, Shaji stresses that they are planning to rope in talent for Mollywood rather than opt for a crew from outside the industry. “The usual trend is to get renowned technicians who have worked in movies such as Dangal and Baahubali. But there are talented people in Mollywood and this movie would be a great opportunity for them. About 60% of the film will be shot in forests. So, we need talents who are passionate about filmmaking for the movie to progress,” he says.
The team is planning to begin shooting the movie on Vishu next year and hoping to release it on the day of Makaravilakku in 2020, he says.
Prithviraj will be busy next year with Aadujeevitham and begin work on another big project Kaaliyan by year end. Shaji, however, says that the actor’s looks in these films would also complement his role as Ayyapan in Shankar’s film. “Prithviraj has to lose weight for Aadujeevitham and his physique during that time would also help in our movie as it will show different phases of Ayyappan’s life,” he says. “The movie will have three to four schedules. Some of them, focusing on the palace and Ayyappan’s childhood, won’t need Prithviraj to be present.”