‘Lucifer’ star Mohanlal on waiting for the right Bollywood role

The superstar tells us what he has learnt in 40 years of cinema ahead of his new thriller

Mohanlal has given few details away about his new thriller ‘Lucifer’. Courtesy Sinat Photo
Powered by automated translation

Life is certainly good right now for Malayalam superstar actor Mohanlal Vishwanathan, a man known affectionately as Lalettan. In January, the actor was awarded the Padma ­Bhushan, the third-highest honour for an Indian civilian.

"I am honoured to be given so much respect, not just for the award but throughout my career," he said after the launch of the trailer for his new film, Lucifer, at an event at the base of Burj Khalifa in Dubai. . Mohanlal has four decades of acting under his belt, and with Lucifer he is aiming for the biggest simultaneous release overseas for a Malayalam film – it hits cinemas worldwide today.

Lucifer has been making waves since last Friday, when the trailer was released on YouTube by producers Aashirvad Cinemas. Joining Mohanlal is popular actor Prithviraj Sukumaran, who makes his directorial debut, while Bollywood actor Vivek Oberoi crosses over to India's south for the first time.

The film has an ensemble cast that also includes Manju Warrier, Tovino Thomas and Sachin Khedekar. The plot for the thriller has been kept tightly under wraps, but is believed to centre around the aftermath of a ruling party leader's death, and the power struggle that follows. Mohanlal, who plays Stephen Nedumpally, does not give away any details. "There are hints of shades of grey for each character," he says. "It is a very well-­constructed plot. Everyone has two sides ... you will see."

The late director Rajesh Pillai was working  on the Lucifer script  with Mohanlal in the two years prior to his death in 2016. But the title has been used for Sukumaran's project. "This is a different project. Both are mine, yes, but when Raju [Sukumaran] came with the script we thought the title was more apt for this," Mohanlal says.

When it comes to putting faith in a debut director on a film such as Lucifer, Mohanlal shares his secret: "After a while in the industry, as an actor, you come to know just by the way a director narrates the script. When Raju [Sukumaran] shared the story and how he was going to pull it off, I just knew."

Will the star continue to focus on Malayalam film, or will he branch out into Bollywood more often? "I am very happy here. But yes, if I get the right role offer [for Bollywood] I am keen to work there," Mohanlal says. "Until then, it is run, run and run ... until I finish my journey."

Mohanlal, centre, praised the work of co-star Vivek Oberoi, left, and debut director Prithviraj Sukumaran. Courtesy Sinat
Mohanlal, centre, praised the work of co-star Vivek Oberoi, left, and debut director Prithviraj Sukumaran. Courtesy Sinat

And Mohanlal is very glad that Oberoi decided to make the jump from Bollywood to Mollywood for the film. "I am very thankful that he, and all of the other actors, came on board as soon as I approached them for Lucifer," he says. "Yes, Vivek had to adapt to the language. It was not easy for him, but he picked up the challenge well. He has done a great job with the dialogue. We gave him the space to do his job."

So, after four decades in the industry, how does Mohanlal choose his films? "As an actor we have many limitations," he says. "There has to be a good concept, then it has to be written down and the producers have to back it ... I have been very fortunate to have been blessed all these 40 years."

Lucifer is in cinemas across the UAE from today