A Blog on Cinema

Prisoners of Perception


When Dileep was appearing in various TV programs promoting Karyasthan the standard question was this. What can you expect from the movie. Dileep’s answer was this. It has everything a viewer expects from my movies. So what do we expect from a Dileep movie? Comedy, some sentiments, nice songs.  You know, the typical Sathyan Anthikkad aviyal. Now for his next movie, Marykudoru Kunjadu also he said the same thing. Maybe he said this for Paapi Apacha also.

All those movies have done very well commercially. People really like seeing the some of these things  again and again and Dileep is minting money on it. This is really important and the film industry depends on such hits.

Now think of it from an actor’s long term career perspective. The problem with this ‘what you can expect from me’ mentality is this. Someone else can take over this from you. Mohanlal was doing comedy in his early days, then he moved to action, classy movies and all that. In that gap Jayaram grew. He did comedy for a while and then tried different things. In that gap Dileep got in. Now Jayaram was not successful in ‘other roles’ and so he is now coming back to comedy. But that space is crowded now and he has no where to go. Now what will happen to Dileep, if there is a rising comedy star?  Can he move to other serious roles?  He probably cannot as an actor with serious limitations.  He is diversified  and is now wisely producing movies and minting money. The other problem with this mentality is if no one likes the package you are selling, example – Suresh Gopi.

Even singers have this problem. No one calls Rimy Tomy to sing a classical song (yes, Ara Pavan in Vasthavam is an exception) and no one calls M G Sreekumar to sing Pramadavanam or Venugopal to sing Velmuruka.  Moving from singers, if you look at directors, they too have this mentality.  You know what to expect when you go for a Sathyan Anthikkad, Rajasenan or Shafi movie. At the same time, you did not know what you were into when you went for a Padmarajan movie or I V Sasi movie or Lal Jose movie. They have tackled so many ideas and made those movies successful as well. This is why we admire film makers and actors who have range, compared to those who don’t.


  1. Quite true, I must say…Something that I admire in ARR too…if we look at the music composers in Mollywood, I’d say of late Johnson is in such a prison. Deepak Dev, may too, if he doesn’t go overboard with too much guitar….

  2. while versatility is important…Dileep should be OK b/c his movies are “all-in-one”…w/ comedy, drama, action, romance, music…..this is the only formular that consistently works…for example, Mammotty’s hit movies are the Rajamankikam/Pokiri Raja types while Mohanlal’s are the Hallo/Rasathantram types…straight drama or action doesn’t really hit the bulls eye anymore for most malayalee audiences

    Manoj, completely agree…ARR is the only composer who tries to reinvent the wheel with all his albums..the others just develop their “sound” and stick to it, come what may (barring a song or two)….that being said, Deepak Dev is our best at the moment…he’s consistent and layers his arrangements well….

  3. also, with IV Sasi it was a bit easy as he doesn’t write…he’s always depended on others scripts…for example…he’s made movies that are purely products of their time like “Angadi” and “Athirathram” that aren’t too impressive today…and unique ones like “Mrugaya” and “Midhya”…jsut depends on what script landed on his lap….same w/ Lal Jose….it’s much harder to come up w/ new ideas on your own…that’s why directors who also write tend to be drawn to certain subjects or pet themes…it’s OK long as they bring in new dimensions to the framework they operate in

  4. Filmbuff,

    You are right about IV Sasi and Lal Jose. They get to pick from diff scripts and thus cover various genres. Once again the exception to the rule is Padmarajan, who was a writer/director who wrote about varied topics and directed them as well. This is why 50 years from now, we will still remember Padmarajan, but not Sathyan Anthikkad.

  5. Jibs,

    While I def see where you are coming from…I think Sathyan will always be regarded as a great director b/c he puts his personal stamp on every movie he directs (he’s not just a hack who happens to come across the right script). On the other hand, Priyadarsan, IV Sasi, Lal Jose are more of the hack type.

  6. I would not agree on Sathyan as a great director;at least rating by the movies he made in the past 4 years or so.I agree he makes better movies among the masters of his time(like sibi malayil or Kamal)and his films consistently performs well at box office.But just look at his movies;almost everything has the same scripts;has a couple of friendly characters(innocent,Mamukoya,lalitha etc) lady with some problem(meera jasmine-omg iam fed up with her same problems,Mamtha),A hero to help them in distress(preferably Jayaram or Mohanlal).See the films Vinodayatra, Rasathantram,Kadha thudarunnu,Innathe Chintha Vishayam etc.All have a family resemblance and all were scripted by he himself.These films are all preachy kind of stuff rather than being realistic.Only Bhagyadevatha was a film which had a diff story and make.
    As a director he always takes the safe path – light hearted feel good family stories.The problem is that the script and execution are very much predictable.He is perhaps the best example for the title of this article.May be its not his fault;all his films are at least average grossers or better hits and malayalam films dont have better films to give them any competition.Just think he was the director who made classics like Varavelppu, Mazhavilkkavadi, Sandesham,Nadodikattu etc.
    May be deviating frm topic but at the end every thing boils down to the fact that there is lack of good scripts.But whats the role of the director then;find new topics,find and encourage new writers,help them write ,mentor them using one’s experience.Just to say an example Apoorva ragam was not the greatest film but it inevitably was a different experience which had a new theme and new writers -for that attempt i respect Sibi Malayil.Senior directors should think out of the old conventional ways to find some new refreshing topics.

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