I am asked this question time and again these days.
Did Mammutty refuse passenger?Was it because he did not like my comment that passenger has the potential to be a pathbreaking movie in malayalam?
Felt it needs a clarification once and for all.So here goes…
I narrated the script of Passenger to mammukka in 2006 while he has doing Palunku.I was meeting him for the first time.After a lot of efforts a stranger like me had got a 30 minute appointment.I was quite tensed meeting the legend and megastar face to face for the first time,but had little time to think about it.I knew this was my one chance and wanted to make the best use of it.
He immediately cooled me down offering me tea.I started narrating the script to him.He seemed to be hooked to it.He insisted he want to hear it completely with dialogues once he was into it.I started narrating it in detail to him.I completed the narration of Sathyanathan sleeping in the train and his friends mentioning about the superman and looked at him with the question.He smiled and said he feels the script is well researched and really good.He wants to do the movie.He said its a movie which should be made,he knows there is nothing much to do for him as sathyanathan but when a rank newcomer like me wants to try something like passenger in malayalam he would like to be a part of it .He felt the movie as a whole was a very noble concept.
Then he asked me who do I want to direct it.From 2003 I had met almost all good directors whom I wanted to direct passenger with the script and all had rejected it.So it took me no time to tell him that Only I can direct this:)..His response was a very big laugh.After some 10 seconds of it he told me with a smile You are the best person to direct it.What you need is exposure to actual movie sets,I will help you get it.He liked it that I was an IT professional and still working.He persuaded me to continue with the job and learn direction in my spare time.He said I can study direction in 2007 and we will make the movie in 2008.He was overcommitted to do it immediately anyway.
I started off watching shootings with Big B.Mammukka personally called the director and told him about me.It was a opportunity one hardly gets.You can be with a commercial film unit whole throught the shoot just watching them work.I was not an assistant,just a spectator and a student.It continued the same with most movies he did in 2007.He arranged me meetings with producers for passenger.We talked on new technologies to shoot it(Once he even suggested he has plans to purchase RED to shoot passenger).
It was 2008 and i was ready to shoot passenger.We still dit not have a producer.I told him I will produce it as I dont see a point moving ahead without doing it,when can he give me dates.The fact was he still did not had dates for me,he was still overcommitted.I told him I cant wait any longer,I want to make it before I am 30.Yes I felt it has the potential to be a path breaking movie, and he dint like that comment as well since I was a nobody to say that.But that was one small thing.
Actually another important factor was that he had grown from the days of palunku to a real larger than life superhero in roudram,annan thampi etc by then.I had started feeling whether passenger would be looked upon as an offbeat movie if mammukka did it at that point of time.
Thus I meet sreeniyettan with the script.Then we got the passenger you saw eventually.
Looking back,without mammukkas help I would have never been able to make passenger.
We wished each other even few days back for new year.
Aaall Izzz Welll..