Suresh Gopi and Shaji Kailas have their fortunes and misfortunes entwined and it is interesting to take a look at their parallel careers.
Suresh Gopi started his career as a child artist in Odayil Ninnum (1965). Later he started doing villain and supporting roles, but his career had a sea change when he started associating with Shaji Kailas. Suresh Gopi performed well in police roles in Shaji’s movies. Thalasthanam, Ekalavyan, and Commissioner shot him to superstardom and people starting saying Mohanlal-Mammootty-Suresh Gopi in the same breath.
His potrayal of the police officer simmering with anger against wrongs in soceity, with fiery dialogue delivery went well with the masses. His trade mark used to be the angry dialogue delivered in both English and Malayalam one after the other, thus removing the need for subtitling. Often these movies showed Suresh Gopi decimating politician-mafia nexus mostly by walking in slow motion. His famous line Ormayundo Ee Mukham boosted the career of various mimicry artistes
Shaji Kailas too climbed similar heights during the same period as his fast paced political action thrillers were well received. Shaji Kailas’s hits were backed by powerful scripts by writers Ranji Panikkar and Renjith. Shaji’s favourite script writer initially was Ranji Panikkar and together with Suresh Gopi they gave a string of hits like Thalasthanam, Mafia, Ekalavyan, and Commissioner.
Commissioner was the crowning glory of this team and this movie became one of the biggest hits in 1994. In 1995 Shaji and Ranji did ‘The King’ with Mammooty and something happened after that for Ranji never did a movie with Shaji Kailas again. His next movie was Lelam (1997) with Joshi (aka Joshiy) as director.
Shaji Kailas started making movies with other script writers and tried and tested many including S.N.Swamy and finally settled on Renjith. This combination had Mammootty (in Valiettan) or Mohanlal (Aaram Thampuran, Narasimham). With Mohanlal’s star value, this team created new box office records and one day Renjith decided to direct his own scripts which resulted in Ravana Prabhu, the sequel of Devasuram.
With that Shaji Kailas was stranded. He started trying various script writers again like Suresh Babu in Thandavam, B.Unnikrishnan in Shivam and Tiger, and T.A.Shahid in Nattu Rajavu. All these experiments flopped. Another interesting fact – between Commissioner and Tiger Suresh Gopi has acted in just 2 out of 13 Shaji Kailas movies (Mahatma and F.I.R) and this period coincided with the slump in Suresh Gopi’s career.
Of course he got a national award (Kaliattam) and a few hits (Summer in Bethlehem), but he was not consistently delivering hits. After Renjith going solo Shaji Kailas never had a big hit.
After a long hiatus Suresh Gopi came back roaring in Bharath Chandran I.P.S. That movie was directed by Ranji Panikkar and became one of the superhits of 2005. Then Shaji Kailas tried to piggy back on Suresh Gopi’s new found success by directing Tiger with B.Unnikrishnan as script writer and the movie flopped!
Based on the above facts we can draw some conclusions. For Shaji Kailas to create a hit movie he needs Ranji Panikkar or Renjith. For Suresh Gopi to get a hit movie he needs at least Ranji Panikkar.