Actress Vidya Balan, who was to portray the role of Indian-English writer Kamala Surayya in a bilingual biopic, has walked out of the project, citing creative differences with the director, national award-winner Kamaluddin Muhammed, according to media reports.
With Balan quitting the project, the fate of 'Aami' now hangs in balance.
Incidentally, Kamaluddin, also known as Kamal, had recently got into a tiff with members of the Bharatiya Janata Party after he criticised the police for entering theatres during the International Film Festival of Kerala and arresting those who did not stand up during the national anthem. Members of BJP had staged a protest outside his house at Kodungallur and the party's state general secretary, AN Radhakrishnan, had asked him to leave the country.
Sources close to the actress have told several publications that the reason for Vidya's walkout was not political. It had nothing to do with any right wing pressure to back out of the project.
An unnamed source told the Times of India that "Vidya liked the script and still would like to do the film. But something was added to the final script at the last moment which she didn't approve of." Although Kamal hinted that Balan's walkout could be due to his tiff with the RSS and BJP.
"I don't have any proof to buttress this. But if someone clubs these two, they can't be blamed either," the Hindustan Times quoted him as saying. Sources close to Balan told the Indian Express that Balan "is one actor who is willing to go that extra mile to own the character. In fact, she enjoys the process of film-making in its entirety, spending time with the director and writers and collaborating as a unit, which wasn't the scenario with this film." The opting out was amicable, they said.
Surayya, who wrote in English as Kamala Das and enriched Malayalam literature under the pseudonym Madhavikutty, had changed her name to Kamala Surayya after embracing Islam a few years before her death in 2009.
According to Kamal, the bilingual movie will not be a conventional, realistic biopic but a mixture of real-life and fictional situations. Born in an aristocratic Nair family in Punnayurkkulam in Thrissur district as daughter of eminent poet Balamani Amma, Surayya has left a rich body of literary work.
The most sensational, and arguably widely read of all of them, is her memoirs 'Ente Katha' (My story), which was initially propagated as her real-life story, but she herself clarified later that it was just an "imaginary work."
Her other major works are 'Childhood Memoirs', 'Summer in Calcutta', 'Alphabet of Lust', 'Descendants' and collected poems. Besides Vidya, Malayalam actor Prithviraj, who won his second state film award for Kamal-directed 'Celluloid', will also play a pivotal role in the movie.
The 'Meghamalhar' director is also penning the script of the movie. (With inputs from PTI)