Screen icons Mammootty and Mohanlal are both gearing up to play Zamorin naval chief Kunjali Marakkar IV in separate films, The News Minute reported.

Director Priyadarshan had announced a few months earlier that he would be directing Mohanlal in a film based on the fourth Kunjali Marakkar. Meanwhile, producer Shaji Nadeshan said that Santosh Sivan will make a film featuring the same character with Mammootty in the lead.

Kunjali Marakkar was the title given to the naval chief of the Zamorin rulers of Calicut during the 16th century. The Kunjalis were credited with organising the first naval defence of the southern coast. Four of them fought against Portuguese invasions. Both films will focus on the fourth Naval chief.

In November last year, Priyadarshan had told Times of India that he would refrain from making his film if Sivan’s Marakkar movie went on the floors within eight months. “Three years ago also, they told me that they would be doing the film,” he said. “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.”

However, a Facebook post on February 15 from music composer MG Sree Kumar indicates that Priyadarshan will soon begin filming his movie. “Our new film ‘KUNJALI MARAKKAR’ starts shortly,” Kumar wrote. “Please bless us. Love u all.” The post was accompanied with a photograph featuring Mohanlal and Priyadarshan.

Nadeshan also announced that his Kunjali Marrakkar biopic in the works in a post on Facebook later in the day. “Kunjali Marrakkar pre production works in full swing,” he wrote. “Shoot starts july 2018.”

Kunjali Marakkar was also the subject of a 1966 Malayalam film directed by SS Rajan and produced by TK Pareekutty. Featuring Prem Nazir, Sukumari, PK Saraswathi and PK Sathyapal in lead roles, Kunjali Marakkar won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Malayalam.