Biju Menon has replaced Mammootty as the lead actor of Ranjith's much-awaited upcoming project Leela. The movie is based on Unni R's short story of the same name. Unni himself pens the screenplay and dialogues.
The project, which will be released under the title Leela-The Never Ending Play, was initially offered to Mohanlal. But he turned down the offer due to personal reasons. Later, Shankar Ramakrishnan was considered for the lead role.
But later, the team finalised Mammootty to play the central character Kuttiyappan; to the much surprise of the audience and media. It is because Kuttiyappan is an extra bold character, which lies outside Mammootty's comfort zone.
Earlier, Ann Augustine was roped in to play the title character, Leela. But the actress opted out due to the controversial nature of the character. Leela is all about the unique relationship between the mahout Kuttiyappan and an orphan girl named Leela.
Later, the team went on to cast Karthika Nair for the role; but later replaced her with Rima Kallingal, as they were unimpressed with Karthika's screen test. Even Rima's association with the project has not been finalised.
Ranjith is directing a movie based on another writer's screenplay, for the first time in his career. Reportedly, the highly anticipated project will start rolling by the end of 2015 and hit the theatres by mid 2016.