First half of 2006 had reasons for celebrations and concerns, hope and resignation. At the end of 2005 we had written that year belonged to superstars only. In 2006 too, that trend continued and they have solidified their grip on the industry. The movie Rasathantram broke the record of Rajamanickyam as the top grosser in the history of Malayalam movie history and now casting a super star is a no brainer for a producer. The new tactic of the producers, besides casting superstars is to add more release centers, hoping that the initial pull would fetch them a decent return.
Mammootty’s unstoppable juggernaut seemed to slow down a bit with lukewarm response for Prajapathi, but the star provided a big hit with Thurppugulan and a decent show at box office with Balram Vs.Taradas. None of these three movies provided anything that Mammooty could be proud of. The star seems to have made a conscious decision to stay away from these mindless movies for a while and have signed up for a bunch of family or performance oriented movies.
For Mohanlal, 2006 was the year in which his career got into a resurgent mode. Provided by the momentum of Tanmatra at the end of 2005, he followed up with super hits in Rasathantram and Vadakkumnathan. Mohanlal’s cameo appearance in Kilukkam Kilukilukkam helped that movie’s performance at box office. Mohanlal has a impressive array of movies lined up for rest of the year, many of them of art genre. The actor seems to have learned from his previous experience the pitfalls of being typecast.
Suresh Gopi’s second stint in the movies provided mixed results in the box office. Lanka, Rashtram and Aswaroodan flopped big time. Suresh Gopi found a sole hit in Chintamani Kola Case which gave his career much needed oxygen. Suresh Gopi is type cast in most of his movies, and the movies lined up for the rest of the year does not show any attempt at a change of image. Among the superstars he has the most number of movies released and we find most of his movies competing with each other to fail in box office.
First movie and first hit of 2006 was Dileep’s – Lion. Dileep takes extreme care to make sure that subject of his movies are varied and different. His Pachakuthira did not do we well at the box office. Undeterred, he followed up by Chess, which most probably would end up as a winner at box office. This actor is the best example for careful planning and releasing of his movies.
Jayaram’s career had almost ended before Madhuchandralekha. This movie was not a hit but helped Jayaram to stay afloat.
Prithviraj, only surviving member of youth brigade, managed to act in two movies – Achanurangatha Veedu and Vargam. His performance in Vargam drew praise from all quarters. This actor has a flourishing career in Tamil movies and has few interesting releases lined up including Lal Jose’s Classmates. Among others, Salim Kumar got the opportunity of life time to act as lead character in Lal Jose’s Achanurangatha Veedu.
When it comes to actresses, there weren’t many significant performances to write about. With superstars tightening their grip, their heroines end up as props. The box office economics ensures that there are no willing producers to bankroll women oriented movies.
Kavya Madhavan acted in three movies – Lion, Kilukkam Kilukilukkam and Vadakkumnathan. All three were success at box office but none of these movies tested Kavya’s acting abilities. Mamta Mohandas acted in two movies, Lanka and Madhuchandralekha. Of the two Madhuchandralekha was barely afloat, where as baring didn’t help Lanka. Bhavana acted in one movie, Chess, which is on the way to box office success. Gopika acted along with Dileep in Pachakuthira. Lal Jose’s Achanurangatha Veedu had a new find, Mukta. Meera Jasmine showed one more reason why many hold her in high esteem with her performance in Rasathantram.
Actresses were imported from other languages for many superstar movies, like, Katrina Kaif in Balram Vs Taradas, Sneha in Thuruppugulan, and Laya in Rashtram. None left a lasting impression. There is Padmapriya, who was cast in many movies, including Aswaroodan and Vadakkumnathan. She is an actress of potential and is not just another import.
On the other hand the exodus of Malayalee actresses continued. Following Nayantara and Asin actresses Gopika, Navya Nair and Bhavana went across the border and currently the non-glamourous Bhavana is getting lot of offers in Tamil.
Concluding part to be published on Monday …