Pencilashan brought these out on August 6, believed to be the day Mammootty made his debut
As a fan of Mammootty, cartoonist Vishnu Madhav, better known as Pencilashan, says he wanted to do something unique for the star he grew up adoring, in order to commemorate his 50th year in the industry. The result? Fifty collectible cards featuring Mammootty as the characters he is known for over the years.
He came up with the idea last year when he made 49 cards. “This year, since he completed 50 years in the industry, I added one more. His first role was as a junior artist in 1971,” says Vishnu.
He intended the cards as a fan’s tribute to the actor, and also for fans who might want collectibles. Making these is also his way of fulfilling a childhood dream, “When I was a kid, we consumed pop culture via cinema not so much from comics as it is now or like it has been in the West. Those days we didn’t have access to regional content — cinema or otherwise. This is something many of us would relate with.”
One face of the card has a caricature of the character while the flip side has the name of the film, director, writer, producer and a brief description. Choosing the characters was not easy, for Vishnu. “Mammookka has this ability to completely transform for every role. I did not solely go by the hit films, though there are Chandu from Oru Vadakkan Veeragatha or Sethurama Iyer from Oru CBI Diary Kurippu. There are some films which didn’t do very well but his character stood out like Puthan Pannam’s Nithyananda Shenoy.” He says, regretfully, that he has missed some classics like Thaniyavarthanam’s Bala Gopalan, “It is a big miss, someone who had bought the cards pointed it out.”
The process was hard work and intense research. “I don’t plan my projects days in advance, each one has been spontaneous and so was this one. It was four-five days of hectic, sleep and rest-deprived hard work – choosing the films/characters and caricaturing.” Research was hard, finding reliable information was not easy. “I had to find the films, the details and in some cases, the older films, the details are sketchy. So I ended up watching the films to check the title cards and get the facts right.”
His friend Uthara Raj has been as much a driving force, “she is a hardcore Mammootty fan too.” It was Uthara who pushed him to go ahead when he wasn’t sure if the idea would work. Vishnu made the announcement of the cards on August 6, believed to be the day Mammootty made his debut completed 50 years.
“Even getting it printed took some effort. I had put the caricatures and the text separately, they had to be collated during printing. After printing a few copies we realised that both didn’t match in some cards. Then they had to be all redone. Even my parents chipped in with the packing when they realised I wouldn’t finish packing on time to ship the orders!” The cards are priced at ₹350 per pack.
It is not just Mammootty fans, even Mohanlal fans have purchased these cards and they have asked Vishnu if he could do the same for Mohanlal. “Why not? I am thinking of a series, maybe a regional collection of our South Indian stars. It would be a first and people might take to it.”
A freelance cartoonist, Vishnu posts cartoons (including social and political satire) on his socials.
(His Instagram handle is @pencilashan, for enquiries mail email@example.com)