Mammootty had recently announced his much-awaited historical drama Kunjali Marakkar IV, directed by renowned cinematographer Santosh Sivan and scheduled to go into production next year.
Parallely, producer Santhosh T Kuruvilla announced another Kunjali Marakkar film, directed by Priyadarshan and starring Mohanlal as the title character, which would also go on floors next year. But after Mammootty officially released his film's poster last week, reports claimed that Priyadarshan has dropped his project, saying "Malayalam cinema doesn't need two Kunjali Marakkars now".
However, it seems that the veteran director has had a change of heart. Priyadarshan has now stated that he would go ahead with the project if Mammootty's film doesn't go on floors within eight months from now.
"Three years ago also, they told me that they would be doing the film. So, this time I will wait for about six to eight months. But if they are delaying it just to hinder my film, I will naturally go ahead with my project. But if they are doing the Kunjali Marakkar film, I will drop it because it's unhealthy to have unnecessary competition in an industry like ours," a Times of India report quoted Priyadarshan as saying.
For the uninitiated, Kunjali Marakkar was the title given to the naval chief of the Zamorin (Samoothiri), the king of Kozhikode during the 16th century. There were four major Kunjalis who played a part in the Zamorin's naval wars with the Portuguese from 1502 to 1600.
Earlier reports had claimed that Mohanlal will be portraying Kunjali Marakkar II, the second and most famous of the Marakkars, while Mammootty will play the role of Kunjali Marakkar IV, the final warrior. However, Priyadarshan has now revealed that his version will also be focusing on the fourth naval chieftain.
"Kunjali Marakkar IV has the most interesting story. He was the one who revolted against the Zamorins and was hanged. Most of his story happens in the sea and it's never easy to shoot such a film in the sea. It has to be shot on par with international standards and needs to be appealing for the national audience with star cast from other industries too. Our film has been planned in such a way," the Kaalapani director pointed out.
Written by TP Rajeevan and Shankar Ramakrishnan, Mammootty's Kunjali Marakkar IV will be produced by August Cinemas which bankrolled his superhit film The Great Father that hit the screens earlier this year.
The project also marks Santosh Sivan's return to Malayalam six years after directing 2011's superhit historical drama film Urumi, starring his former August Cinemas co-producer Prithviraj in the lead.