Dubai is my second home: Mohanlal

Dubai is my second home: Mohanlal

Malayalam Matinee idol Mohanlal refers to Dubai as his second home. And it is no surprise since he is truly a Dubai resident.

Fondly called Lalettan, the award winning actor with umpteen number of accolades to his credit has a residence visa here and proudly drives around Shaikh Zayed Road, thanks to his UAE driving license. On top of all this, the Lals own an apartment in the world’s tallest tower Burj Khalifa.

Mohanlal and Meera Jasmine shoot a song-and-dance sequence at the newly opened Miracle Garden in Dubai

Scores of his movies have been filmed in the UAE and he has performed and attended several events and mega shows here.

Director Siddique is seen on location

There is no exaggeration in calling Dubai his second home, Lal said when City Times caught up with the versatile actor who was once again in town on work.

“I love Dubai and it is a fact (that Dubai is my second home). I’ve 30 years’ association with Dubai and plenty of friends here,” he said.

Lal visits Dubai frequently and feels the warmth of the people here every time he is in town, even more so when he recently led Kerala Strikers in a winning match for a berth in the semi finals of the Celebrity Cricket League (CCL).

Asked about his favourite hangout places in Dubai, Lal said: “I like Bab Al Shams (Desert Resort and Spa) very much. It’s a quiet place. Then, Raffles Dubai, The Walk ... and of course Burj Khalifa and its surroundings.”

One of his favourite spots, The Walk at JBR, is exactly where we met last Monday when Lal and south Indian actress Meera Jasmine were filming Ladies and Gentleman, the latest movie from Bodyguard-fame director Siddique.

Flower Power

The star pair also shot a song sequence at the newly opened Miracle Garden in Dubai.

CEO of 7 Media Mini Sarma, who is the Line Producer (Dubai), of this film said Ladies and Gentleman will be the first movie to show the beauty of the Miracle Garden on the silver screen. “We are thankful to the Dubai Film and TV Commission for supporting us in getting the permissions in time and also helping us get the locations through their contacts. This will definitely make film makers happy and want to come back again. It is wonderful to work with two great legends like Siddique and Mohanlal whom I have known for 20 years.” said Sarma.

The star-cast pose along with Dubai-based children at The Walk, JBR

The captain of Kerala Strikers definitely sounded bowled over by the beauty of the Miracle Garden, a totally unexplored location. “It looked as if we were in Switzerland,” said Lal.

“I was really amazed to know there are 45 million flowers in that garden. It was a really beautiful place...We are very happy that we got this location to film a song (Pranayamey). The song is all about love and what better objects than flowers to depict love and romance! So it was really an apt location for this movie.”

Meera Jasmine was also equally thrilled about filming in the Miracle Garden. “I’m sure many movies will be shot there. But, we are lucky to be the first to do it,” a beaming Jasmine said.

The pair, whose last film Rasathanthram showcased their chemistry and proved a hit at the box office seven years ago, also enjoyed shooting in the company of a bunch of Dubai children, a mix of Western and Indian expatriates at The Walk.

Though the passersby were non-Indians by and large, it didn’t take more than a few minutes for a crowd to surround the film set. Patiently posing for pictures and signing autographs, Lal and Jasmine provided some unforgettable moments to the fans who thronged around them including elderly women and a group of maintenance workers at JBR.

Jasmine said she herself was very much excited about the movie that will see her pairing with Lal after seven years and the super hit combo of Lal and Siddique happening after two decades.

“So, I can imagine how eager and excited our viewers would be. We had a similar experience when we shot Rasathanthram. It was after a gap of 11 years that Lalettan and director Sathyan Anthikkadu were coming together. So everybody was talking about it then. Also, we had very nice songs in that movie. Same with this one too. This coincidence looks like a good sign.”

Apart from Jasmine, the movie features three more heroines – Mamta Mohandas, Padmapriya and Mithra Kurian. Siddique said the number of heroines in the movie was the very reason it was named Ladies and Gentleman.

The name and location of the movie may make one wonder how different it is from Confident Casanovva, Lal’s last flick to have been shot in Dubai.

“Casanova’s name itself suggests the character of the hero. But in this movie, though there are four women who come into his life, the hero is a gentleman with a positive approach to life. Then he becomes the inspiration for the young generation. Siddique has captured it with his special touch of humour,” said Mohanlal.

After the super hit movie Vietnam Colony in 1992, this is the first time that he is teaming up with Siddique. “We wanted to do a film some years back. But we couldn’t as Siddique got busy with his projects. Everybody liked Vietnam Colony. So, people have high expectations from this movie. Whether we will be able to live up to it will be known once the movie is out. I certainly hope so.”

Siddique, who also scripted Ladies and Gentleman, has tried to convey a valuable message to the young generation through the movie.

“Lalettan’s character Chandrabose is a workaholic who lives abroad, giving more preference to making money in life than anything else. Meera’s character is the one who changes his life and makes him understand that it is not money but relationships, values and happiness in life that really matter. Then he tries to pass on that message to a group of youngsters from the IT field who are business-minded and chase happiness in a materialistic life.”

“I’m sure this is a role that fans have been longing to see from Lalettan. They will definitely love the character.”

Ladies and Gentleman is also the first movie to be shot inside the IMAX theatre in Meydan. Dozens of Dubai residents got a chance to be extras by posing as theatregoers watching an Indian movie alongside Lal and Jasmine. The crew wrapped up the shooting after a few scenes at a local car showroom on Shaikh Zayed Road last Tuesday. The film is slated to release in India on April 12 and will subsequently hit theatres in the UAE as well.

But, fans here will be able to have a glimpse of their Lalettan even before that. “I will be back on April 5 for the AMMA (Association of Malayalam Movie Artists) Award function at Sharjah Cricket Stadium,” he said before bidding goodbye.

More news from City Times