Kochi: Mammootty neither takes the tag of "superstar" seriously, nor does he take it for granted. The megastar, who at 67 is set to feature in a mega-budget Malayalam period drama, feels stardom is imposed, and not acquired by anyone.
After a brief appearance in 1971 film "Anubhavangal Paalichakal" and 1973 "Kalachakram", Mammootty's career in showbiz officially started with "Vilkkanundu Swapnangal" in 1980. Since then, he has showed his calibre and versatility with a repertoire of over 400 films. He will next be seen in "Mamangam".
Before his 'light, camera and action' moment, Mammootty had embarked on the way to become a lawyer. He calls himself an "accidental" lawyer.
"I wanted to become an actor, and accidentally I became a lawyer for a while," Mammootty told IANS in a candid chat here.
"But I was still trying to get into films and act. I tried and got my first chance. I was struggling only for my first chance. And then everything came my way," the superstar said zestfully, without showing any sign of fatigue from his night shoot for his upcoming period drama "Mamangam" here.
The actor, born as Muhammad Kutty Paniparambil Ismail, enjoys a wide fan base in India, especially southern India. But he doesn't let it go to his head.
"Stardom is not a position. You are not acquiring it. It is imposed on you that ‘you are a star'. You should not take it to your mind," said the actor, who considers his first film as the most challenging of his career.
Reflecting on his journey, he said: "As an actor, you have to reinvent yourself...You can correct yourself only when you find your mistakes."
At this point of conversation, the actor mentions that though he isn't afraid of failure, it does affect him in some way.
"I am not scared, but that affects me. You can only win when you fail. You can be successful when you lose it."
Over all these years, he has donned several avatars and moulded his on-screen image as per the demand of his films. But drawing a line between his reel and real self is not easy.
"Being yourself is different from being an actor. It is actually a struggle between yourself, your persona and the character's persona. Sometimes you will fail to be successful to overcome your persona to be the character. When you overcome your persona to be the character, then you are a successful actor.
"It happens with every actor and it happens to me as well. Sometimes I am successful and sometimes I am not."
And that's the reason he describes himself as a "growing actor".
Have all the years spent in the industry changed him as a person?
"My personal life is entirely different. I play different characters. My personality is the same. I don't change it."
That gives a sense that he keeps himself detached from a lot of things that come with fame?
But he said, "I am not detached. I am carrying all this with me."
At the moment, Mammootty is excited about M. Padmakumar's "Mamangam" which will narrate a true story around the medieval festival called Mamangam. He will be seen playing a mysterious character with multiple looks in the film.
Said to be the biggest Malayalam film in terms of the budget and expanse, the project showcases a wide action sequence of Kalaripayattu.
The film will tell a story of one great real hero and one glorious unknown hero. The action sequences are choreographed by Sham Kaushal.
The project, slated to release later this year, will release in Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu and Hindi. It is produced by Venu Kunnappilly of Kavya Films.
On the film, Mammootty said: "What excited me was the role offered to me and the historical importance of the story.
"It happens in the 15th and 16th century in north Kerala... There were braver and bolder people and their sacrifice must be known to the new generation. And my role is also interesting."