The 1997 release Iruvar is inarguably one of the finest Tamil movies of all time. The classic received rave reviews because of his engaging screenplay and impressive performances and soon attained cult status. It helped Malayalam star Mohanlal, who played the MGR-esque Anand, become an inseparable part of Kollywood. While almost everyone knows about its legacy, a section of the audience may not be aware that Mammootty was to essay a key role in the film. The 'Megastar' was offered the character of Tamizhselvan, modelled on the former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi but did not take it up.
The makers eventually approached Prakash Raj and the rest is history. Iruvar would have marked his second collaboration with director Mani Ratnam had things worked out. He had previously teamed up with him for the 1991 classic Thalapathi, which featured Rajinikanth as the parallel lead.
Mammootty spoke about the incident shortly after Karunanidhi's death in 2018 and said that turning down the role was a "mistake".
Iruvar explored the strong nexus between politics and cinema in Tamil Nadu and catered to cinephiles. It featured Aishwarya Rai as the female protagonist and marked her acting debut. She subsequently teamed up with Ratnam for Guru, Raavanan/Raavan, and the upcoming period drama Ponniyin Selvan.
Her character was inspired by the late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa and proved to be one of the film's surprise elements. The supporting cast included Gautami, Tabu and Nassar. The Baahubali actor interestingly played 'Kalaingar' in last year's Thalaivi, which revolved around Amma's rise in the political world and her contribution to Tamil cinema.
Coming back to Mammootty, he remains an inspiration for fans despite the emergence of younger stars. The Uncle actor was last seen in One, which didn't live up to expectations at the box office. He is awaiting the release of Puzhu, which apparently features him as a character who resides in the greys. He will be seen in the role of a gangster in Bheeshma Parvam, directed by Amal Neerad. Mammootty, who earlier garnered attention with his portrayal of Y S Rajasekhara Reddy in Yatra, is set to return to Telugu cinema with a negative role in Akhil Akkineni's Agent.