THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, SEPT 11: When the two big stars of Malayalam cinema come together, after more than a decade, it is news enough. Fazil, who directs Mammootty and Mohan Lal in Onam's biggest hit Harikrishnans, went one step ahead. He canned two versions of the climax, showed both at different theatres, and intends to give this novelty a complete run.
There have been instances, particularly in Bollywood, of filmmakers altering the climax when the viewers waste no time in giving the thumbs down signal, but none has ever thought of two different endings for the same movie.
With Harikrishnans, director Fazil has notched up another first to his credit. He has also generated a debate in ethics among cinema lovers.
The film, which has Juhi Chawla in the female lead, has Hari and Krishnan, the characters played by Mammootty and Mohan Lal, arduously wooing the beauty. This leads to hilarious situations and has Meera, Juhi's character, racking her brains to choose between the two. She finally asksthe Harikrishnans to decide themselves. Thick friends, Hari and Krishnan both get ready for sacrifice. Even this does not solve the knotty problem.
What does Meera do when her heart fails to give her a solution? Leave it to fate. Meera does not toss the coin, but in a virtual cinematic equivalent of the toss in sports to decide the winner, chooses Hari as her true friend. Krishnan gets her by virtual default.
This is for viewers at cinemas in the State capital. In neighhbouring Kollam, ninety nine per cent of the film remains the same, expect for the climax. Here, the `toss' helps Meera in picking Krishnan as her friend. Hari gets the girl.
The film has been released in 33 centres all over the State and the ending differs, almost from district to district. While a major section of cineastes and critics say that the strategy is just another way of ensuring the already ensured box office success, the director says that all he wanted to prove was that the real star of the film is neither Mohan Lal orMammootty, but the story-line.
The movie is an earnest effort at the balancing act and Fazil himself has no bones in admitting to it. ``I was dealing with two superstars, both of whom have received national acclaim. The balancing that I have achieved in presenting Mohan Lal and Mammootty is the biggest novelty of the film,'' he says.
``It is not that I have catered to the tastes of the fans. There are many who say that Mohan Lal has a sway over the southern Kerala while Mammootty is king in the northern parts of the State. I am not willing to agree with that. The fan following of both actors is well spread and uniform all over the State,'' Fazil adds.
``I wanted to prove that the story is the biggest hero in the film. If it was not so, and if the images of the two actors had gained precedence in the minds of the viewers, there would have been major complaints. I have not received a single one yet. The two versions of the climax will remain,'' the director told The Indian Express.
``I take pridein saying that I am a commercial filmmaker. It was my idea. Both Mohan Lal and Mammootty left everything to me. It has worked like anything,'' said Fazil.
No one need to toss to find out the winner here. Clearly, it is Fazil having the last laugh as his film races towards box office history.
Copyright © 1998 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.