Barroz is a 2024 Indian Malayalam-language epic fantasy film directed by Mohanlal in his directorial debut. It is based on the novel Barroz: Guardian of D’Gama’s Treasure by Jijo Punnoose, and produced by Antony Perumbavoor of Aashirvad Cinemas. It stars Mohanlal in the titular role, with Maya, Cesar Lorente Raton, Kallirroi Tziafeta, Tuhin Menon, and Guru Somasundaram in significant other roles. The original score was composed by Mark Kilian, with songs by Lydian Nadhaswaram.
Principal photography for the film commenced in March 2021 with a screenplay by Punnoose. However, it was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic in India, leading to significant changes in the story, screenplay, and cast. Mohanlal and T. K. Rajeev Kumar collaborated to rewrite the scenes, characters, and locations, resulting in Punnoose exiting the film and forfeiting his credits. Kalavoor Ravikumar was brought on as the dialogue writer. Filming restarted in December 2021 and wrapped up in July 2022. The majority of filming took place in Kochi and Goa, with two songs filmed in Bangkok and Chennai. The film was shot in 3D.
Barroz is scheduled to be released in theatres worldwide on 28 March 2024.
Barroz, a treasure guardian has been protecting Vasco da Gama’s hidden treasure for 400 years and has been entrusted to hand over the wealth only to a true descendant of da Gama.
- Mohanlal as Barroz
- Maya as Isabelle
- Cesar Lorente Raton as Mendoza
- Ignacio Mateos as Cristóvão da Gama
- Kallirroi Tziafeta as Teresa da Gama
- Guru Somasundaram
- Komal Sharma
- Pedro Figueiredo
- Pranav Mohanlal
On 21 April 2019, Mohanlal took to social media to announce his directorial debut—a 3D film adaptation of Jijo Punnoose’s novel Barroz: Guardian of D’Gama’s Treasure. Originally, Mohanlal and T. K. Rajeev Kumar had planned to create a 3D stage play, seeking guidance from Punnoose, the director of India’s first 3D film, My Dear Kuttichathan (1984). However, due to the high production costs involved, the project was put on hold. During their discussion, Mohanlal proposed the idea of adapting Punnoose’s novel into a film, with himself as the director. Punnoose agreed to the proposal. Mohanlal also mentioned that the film would be shot in Goa and include foreign actors. Described as a “fantasy film for children”, the story revolves around a 17th-century fable rooted in a Portuguese-Afro-Indian myth along the Malabar Coast, recounting the tale of a hidden treasure belonging to the D’Gama family. The story explores the maritime history of Portugal, Spain, Africa, and India, while the mythical being is known locally as kappiri muthappan. According to Mohanlal, it took one-and-a-half years to finalize the screenplay. Initially, he encouraged Punnoose to direct the film, but Punnoose declined. Mohanlal also considered other directors before deciding to take up the role himself. He mentioned that Punnoose granted him freedom to make changes to the story, as the original premise had a more serious tone that underwent revisions.
Punnoose discovered the Portuguese-Afro-Indian myth in 1980 while exploring various indigenous fables for India’s first 3D film. Eventually, he opted to adapt the kuttichathan myth instead. In 2003, he revisited the subject and crafted a story that he shared with friends. Years later, responding to his colleagues’ insistence, Punnoose decided to turn the story into a film in English and Hispanic languages, taking on the role of director. He revised the 2003 story and penned it as a novel in 2017 to claim copyright. It features two primary characters—Barroz, an elderly Afrikaner ghost, and Isabella, a teenage girl of Malayali-Portuguese descent. While Punnoose’s screenplay deviated from the novel in terms of setting and narrative technique. Foreign actors were considered for various roles, including that of Barroz. However, the project underwent significant changes in the course of events.
In a 2022 blog, Punnoose provided a detailed explanation of the film’s development and its departure from his original work. In mid-2018, Mohanlal and Kumar sought Punnoose’s consultation for a 3D stage show. Kumar proposed making the film in Malayalam language, with Mohanlal portraying Barroz. In February 2019, Punnoose changed the character to a Malayali to accommodate Mohanlal, but opted out of directing. Mohanlal then took on the role of director, while Antony Perumbavoor joined as the producer. Punnoose revised the screenplay 22 times to his satisfaction and to the liking of Mohanlal and Antony, while keeping Isabella as the central character. Mohanlal contributed several story elements, which were incorporated into the film.
Preparations for the film were finalized by early January 2020 and filming was set to begin in June. However, their plans were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in India, which affected the set work scheduled for February. The work resumed by the end of 2020. A team of approximately 160 personnel worked at Navodaya Studio at various departments. The extended time allowed for improvements in previsualization, voodoo doll animation, visual effects, and action sequences. Pre-production was completed in March 2021.Production was officially announced on 24 March 2021, with a pooja ceremony held at Navodaya Studio. Filming began in the same month but was interrupted after one week due to the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Kerala. By the time the lockdown restrictions began to ease, Aashirvad Cinemas had shifted their focus to producing films for direct OTT streaming. As a result, there were discussions about shelving Barroz due to its perceived non-viability. However, in November 2021, Mohanlal took the initiative to revive the project, capitalizing on his four-month gap before starting other films.
Considering the challenges posed by the pandemic, including the difficulty of bringing back foreign actors and shooting in distant locations, extensive discussions led to a decision to change the story, screenplay, and performers. In December 2021, Mohanlal and Kumar collaborated to rewrite the scenes, locations, and characters to ensure the film’s feasible completion. Mohanlal reimagined his character in line with his successful commercial films to cater to his fans. In May 2022, Jijo expressed his determination to pursue his original plan of directing a film in English and Hispanic languages through his blog, as his original screenplay and production design had not been utilized. This decision ultimately led to Jijo leaving Barroz. He also requested to have his name removed from the screenplay credits.
In July 2019, Mohanlal announced the casting of Spanish actors Paz Vega, Rafael Amargo, and Cesar Lorente Raton in the film through social media. Amargo was cast as Vasco da Gama, while Vega was chosen to portray his wife. Raton, who initially worked in the casting department, was invited to audition for a part and landed in dual roles. Later in September, Mohanlal revealed that American child actress Shayla McCaffrey would play the lead role. In March 2020, Pratap Pothen confirmed his signing for the role of the voodoo doll. Speculations about Prithviraj Sukumaran’s casting arose when he was spotted with the crew during the film’s pre-production discussions in March. His presence in the cast was confirmed during that same month. Sara Vega, the sister of Paz Vega, replaced her in the role of Teresa de Gama.
Due to the COVID-19 lockdown in India, the film faced delays, leading to the replacement of some major cast members when production resumed in December 2021. Prithviraj opted out of the film due to scheduling conflicts with Kaduva and Aadujeevitham. Tuhin Menon was brought in as his replacement. McCaffrey was replaced by Indo-British actress Maya due to conflicts with her academic studies and noticeable physical changes. In December 2021, Guru Somasundaram confirmed his casting in the film, who was called by Mohanlal after the release of his film Minnal Murali (2021). He plays a cop and was scheduled to join in February 2022. Komal Sharma was cast in an undisclosed role. Sharma shared her experience of working on the film, highlighting Mohanlal’s equal treatment of all cast members regardless of their status as leading stars, newcomers, or children. Pranav Mohanlal was spotted filming in the set.
Principal photography began on 31 March 2021 at sets constructed in Fort Kochi. Before filming began, K. U. Mohanan, who was initially appointed as the cinematographer, was replaced by Santosh Sivan. Sivan described Barroz as “a visual film that doesn’t have a conventional story. It’s got magical realism, 3D and is VFX heavy”. Santhosh Raman oversaw the production design. Filming took place at sets in Navodaya Studio in April. The film prominently features Goa, and the shooting schedule there was planned to start in early August.
Filming, which initially involved 85 crew members, proceeded for a week in Kochi before being halted due to the second COVID-19 lockdown. In May, efforts were focused on caring for the 24 infected cast and crew members and arranging the return of foreign actors to their home countries, as airline operations had been suspended. With Aashirvad Cinemas changing their plans, Barroz came close to cancellation, leading to the dismantling of the treasure cellar set at Navodaya Studio on Antony’s instruction. However, in November 2021, Mohanlal revived the film. Due to logistical challenges like bringing back foreign actors and shooting on location, even in nearby places like Goa, the decision was made in December 2021 to change the story, screenplay, and cast. The revised plan involved shooting in and around Kochi, primarily using indoor sets at Navodaya Studio for major filming.
Filming resumed on 26 December 2021, with recasting and reshoots taking place. Portions featuring Prithviraj, shot in April 2021, were scrapped by Mohanlal. From February to April 2022, filming occurred in Kochi. In April, Punnoose assisted in executing a rotating-set mechanism for a scene involving Barroz walking on the walls of the treasure cellar, which was his only involvement after he left the film. It was followed by a schedule in Goa, which was completed in May, marking the majority of the film’s completion, with only two songs remaining. In early July, a song featuring an animation sequence was filmed in Bangkok. The title song was filmed in Chennai by the end of that month. The original plan was to film the title song in Portugal. Filming wrapped up on 29 July 2022. Kumar served as an associate director and Mohanlal’s daughter Vismaya Mohanlal worked as an assistant director.
The post-production work of the film commenced in 2022 shortly after the conclusion of filming. It took place at Thailand and India, with sound mixing done in Los Angeles. In September 2022, Mohanlal revealed plans to complete post-production and submit the film for certification by the Central Board of Film Certification within the same year. He worked towards completing the film in time for a projected theatrical release within March 2023.
During the film’s pre-production in 2019, Mohanlal hired 13-year-old pianist Lydian Nadhaswaram for composing the film’s music, a child prodigy who won the CBS reality talent show The World’s Best that year. In February 2023, Mohanlal took to social media to announce that composer Mark Kilian, known for his work in Hollywood films, has been brought on board to compose the music for Barroz. However, it was unclear whether Nadhaswaram was replaced or if both composers will be involved in the film. In November 2023, a poster announcing the release date was unveiled, crediting both Kilian for the scoring and Nadhaswaram for the songs. The lyrics were provided by Vinayak Sasikumar, Lakshmi Sreekumar, and Krishnadas Panki. Music for the Portuguese fado songs are credited to Miguel and Fernado Gurrerio.
In September 2022, Mohanlal stated that Barroz is planned for a theatrical release within March 2023. In a radio interview in Doha in November 2022, Mohanlal said that the film’s trailer is scheduled to be released in theatres along with Avatar: The Way of Water on 16 December 2022. However, the trailer missed the date. In March 2023, Santhosh Raman informed a media outlet that the film was targeting a release during Onam 2023, but no official announcement followed. Finally, in November 2023, it was officially announced that the film would have a worldwide release on 28 March 2024.
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