Winning the National Award for the best actor is not new for Malayalee Actors. From P.J.Antony(Nirmalyam in 1973) to Murali(Neythukkaran in 2001), this has been a regular occurance. All those actors won the award for acting in a Malayalam movie, except for one – Mammotty. He won the National Award for Best Actor in 1998 for acting in the non-Malayalam movie Dr. Ambedkar. To coincide with the 50th death anniversary of Ambedkar, the movie is being released all over India.
Jabbar is all praise for Mammootty. “An actor can do many things to enact a character – speech, body language and personality can be changed. But it is difficult to act as someone who is revered like God by so many in India. But Mammootty transformed himself into the character of the charismatic leader,” says Jabbar.
While recreating the scene when Ambedkar became a Buddhist along with lakhs of his followers, Jabbar had requested people to come dressed in white. “Vaman Godbole, who was one of the organisers of the event in 1956, was there for the shoot and he was in tears when he saw Mammootty. He asked me `Can I touch him?’ The actor was flabbergasted by the reaction he evoked among the people. There were about two lakh people there. Many of those who had accepted diksha in 1956 had come with their children and grandchildren to accept diksha from Mammootty as Ambedkar. For them, the line dividing reality and cinema had blurred,” recollects Jabbar.[Tribute on celluloid]
It is a matter of pride for Malayalees that one of its best actors was able to evoke such emotions from people who knew Ambedkar.