“Jai Ganesh”: Unni Mukundan Reflects on a Role That Reshaped His Life

When acclaimed actor Unni Mukundan reflects on his latest movie “Jai Ganesh,” he regards it as more than just another film in his career—it is, in his own words, “a gem,” his best work yet. In a recent discussion, Mukundan shared insights into how “Jai Ganesh” has profoundly impacted him, both on a personal and professional level. He delves into the experience saying, “You don’t normally get films that change you as an individual. This film transformed me personally and professionally.”

Today marked the premiere of “Jai Ganesh,” a thrilling creation by director Ranjith Sankar that has been highly anticipated by cinema aficionados. The film showcases a narrative focused on Ganesh Gangadharan, a man with a disability, portrayed by Unni Mukundan. Through his immersion in the role, Mukundan gained invaluable perspectives on the reality of life for people with disabilities, especially within urban landscapes designed predominantly for the able-bodied. “Somehow, we don’t ‘see’ the disabled people among us,” Mukundan posited with thoughtful consideration for those individuals who go unnoticed.

The commitment to his portrayal went beyond mere performance; Mukundan sought to embody a character who refrained from eliciting sympathy, instead depicting the strength and determination that defines a true hero. Director Ranjith Sankar collaborated closely with him, ensuring that the representation was authentic, allowing audience members, and particularly the disabled community, to feel a deep connection to Ganesh’s depiction. Mukundan recognized the significance of this role, understanding it as more than a character—he was giving life to the daily experiences of those living with disabilities.

Reflecting on his previous blockbuster, “Malikapuram,” and its overwhelming success, Mukundan acknowledged the film’s impact and its revelation of an audience hungry for family-friendly cinema. This realization influenced his decision to join “Jai Ganesh” not just as the lead actor, but also as a producer and distributor, investing himself wholly in the project through his banner, Unni Mukundan Films, and Dreams N Beyond. The editing process was emotionally intense, with Mukundan likening it to losing “a part of my life.”

The dedication to the project was evident in the painstaking revisions of the script, reaching nearly thirty drafts. This iterative process and his close interactions with Sankar deepened Mukundan’s appreciation for the scriptwriting craft. His choice for the role was partly owing to his physicality—a key requirement for the portrayal of someone whose upper body strength is greatly relied upon due to their dependency on a wheelchair for mobility.

Mukundan, a fitness enthusiast, spoke candidly about the challenges he faced, which were not purely restricted to physicality. The real-life implications that people with disabilities confront profoundly affected him, forging a significant convergence between the character’s physical demands and the psychological toll it takes on an individual.

“Jai Ganesh” entered cinemas amidst heavy competition, releasing alongside other notable films like Vineeth Sreenivasan’s “Varshangalkku Shesham” and Jithu Madhavan’s “Aavesham” with Fahadh Faasil. Unni’s confidence remained unshaken, firmly believing in the film’s ability to carve its own niche, especially with families—a demographic that had strongly supported him since “Malikapuram.”

The success of “Malikapuram” has made “Jai Ganesh” a highly anticipated follow-up, with audiences holding high expectations for Mukundan’s first theatrical release post the former hit. Despite some controversies that arose from “Malikapuram,” he remains eager for constructive feedback, pondering over the specifics of any offending elements that have yet to be directly addressed.

As “Jai Ganesh” makes its mark in theatres, Unni Mukundan continues to capture the hearts of viewers through his transformative and empathetic portrayal of characters that transcend the conventional hero archetype. With a narrative centered around strength, resilience, and visibility for those often overlooked, “Jai Ganesh” promises to not only entertain but enlighten, solidifying Unni Mukundan’s status as a versatile and thoughtful presence in Indian cinema.