varnachitram

A Blog on Cinema

Bharat Salim Kumar

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To tell you the truth, we are not big fans of Salim Kumar the comedian. Before the arrival of Suraj Venjaramoodu, we thought he was simply irritating. After watching amazing comedians like Jagathi Sreekumar and Innocent, Salim Kumar was a let down. In fact we will be snobbish and say that there is not a single Salim Kumar comedy we liked.

But there is a different Salim Kumar who has acted brilliantly in two movies we have seen. One is Achanurantha Veedu and the other is Kerala Cafe. Both movies are heart wrenching and Salim Kumar simply ceases to be Salim Kumar and becomes the character. You see a side of him you have never seen before. He is involved and is able to trigger various emotions inside the viewer. The 10 minute role in Kerala Cafe is particularly hard to see as he toggles helplessness, sadness and cruelty all together. Any lesser actor would have botched it up.

We have not seen Adaminte Makan Abu. Apart from the jury members, we don’t know who has. But from the trailer it looks like a deeply sad movie. When even Suraj Venjaramoodu is serious, you know it is not an ordinary movie. Here is the story in a nutshell from Wikipedia.

The film is about Abu (Salim Kumar), who has been dreaming of performing the holy pilgrimage to Mecca , despite severe financial constraints. Abu is an old vendor selling Yunani medicines and Athar, roaming around the streets of  Malabar. The film chronicles the difficulties that the old poor couples of Malabar encounter to go for a much hoped Hajj pilgrimage.

Now if you look at the three movies, Achanurangatha Veedu, Kerala Cafe and Adaminte Makan Abu, Salim Kumar portrays a single emotion. He is helpless and sad. Is that the range emotions he can portray? Is that narrow range of emotions sufficient to win the national award or the state award? It looks like if you portray sadness, your performance is considered better than those who have not. For example, look at the state awards for Kavya Madhavan and Mamta Mohandas. Both depict unhappy people. Note that while Salim Kumar has won the national award, an actor with infinite range like Nedumudi Venu has never won it. And that is exactly what ticks us off.

That said, we completely disagree with these lines which was reported today:

Salim Kumar has lashed out against Ranjith’s comments and said it is just sour grapes. Meanwhile there is a feeling among certain section of the industry that those who do comedy roles should not be equated with Mammootty and Mohanlal. This has led to a division in the industry.

There is nothing called Comedy Actor. In Malayalam, all comedy actors do character roles as well and that is their strength. Going by this logic, even Mammotty and Mohanlal should not be considered for awards because they do comedy movies like Pokkiri Raja and China Town.

22 Comments

  1. Its a perfect biased article to help Mr Renjiths comments.Your Blog is Tool used to Back up the unholy Politics controlled by superstars.Mr Mammoty is dreaming for the 4 one to overtake kamal hassan. Malayalm cinema admin is like a painkili magazine standard.When state govt gave kamal hasan life time achiever award mammottys jealousy pricked too much so you guys fought over felicitating him.How petty can malayalam cinema get.Kamal hassan and mammooty any comparison its like comapring K.j yesudas to Kuyil nadam M.g.sreekumar.Learn from tamil how well they have accomodated young actors.You Can List Any article in your Blog but sensible malayalis in kerala and nris like us in uk and us are really proud of salim kumar.

  2. Nedumudi Venu has won the National Awards twice, Best Supporting Actor for His Highness Abdullah, and Special Jury for Margam.

  3. I believe that any actor playing the lead role in a film is eligible for the Best Actor award.

    But my problem here is that Adaminte Makan Abu was never released in the 2010 year. So how can you judge this film in along with the films for 2010? 2011 is not over, hence the awards were for the films of 2010. So how come this won? It doesn’t make sense!

  4. @ James, films censored in 2010 are considered for awards. Release date is not at all considered.

  5. Agreed that Salim Kumar has won critical acclaim only when he portrayed sad characters in movies but that does not mean he did not do justice to the role. For an award committee, they don’t have to go through an actor’s filmography and see if he is type-cast but consider the film that comes before them and see if the actor has done justice to the role that he got.

    Plus, your statement that “It looks like if you portray sadness, your performance is considered better than those who have not” does not make sense. If you look at the award history of Actor and Actress categories, it’s not always the sad portrayals that won an award. (reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerala_State_Film_Award_for_Best_Actor and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerala_State_Film_Award_for_Best_Actress). Look at Mammooty for an example. Of the five films that brought him national awards, none could be called a sad movie (including Ponthan Maada). Similarly with his state award winning movies. Or look at Urvashi’s award winning movie.

    But – I don’t know if Abu is better than Praanchiyettan. Many people ridicule Praanchiyettan as a ‘comedy movie’ but the character that Mammootty portrays in the movie go through many phases and Mammootty has successfully portrayed the character that only an actor with discipline can handle. But we will have to wait for the release to compare.

    • There are so many actors who do justice to their role, for example Salman Khan in Dabangg. Will the jury give him best actor award?

      I have not see Abu either, but I think it is a sob story. Within that movie itself, does Abu go through various emotions or is it just sadness. Nedumudi lost the best actor to Kamal Hassan because Kamal portrayed the entire life span of the character who went through various situations. So within a movie itself there are many ways to do justice.

  6. @Jay
    Renjith’s comments on a public forum was not in a good taste. As a fellow worker, he should have appreciated Salim Kumar instead.
    It is a bg achievement and something that could perhaps be an inspiration to many non-star actors
    Having said that, I totally agree with VC’s comments on Salim Kumar’s roles. While he might have deserved the award, his range is yet to be tested/proved. Also, it goes without saying that people in ‘serious’ roles are always considered to be doing the best acting eforts by juries across the world, including the Oscars.

    More importantly, I think VC posted that article and said that they OPPOSE the statement that ‘comedy actors’ should not be considered for awards. That is in line with your thoughts. I see no reason why you should be angry 🙂

    @James
    I think they have some other criteria, like censoring / certification date and not the release date while considering the year for awards. This has happened several times before and I think it makes better sense too.. Some movie are never released, then how can you make that as the reference.

  7. You don’t need to compare Salim Kumar’s performance in 3 movies to show his lack of range in handling characters. Becoz, this award is for his performance in Adaminte Makan Abu and not for his range.

  8. How about Dhanush who shared the award? I haven’t seen Aadukalam yet, but it seems like he portrays a different set of emotions than sadness and helplessness. Looking at previous years’ national awards, I do not necessarily agree that portraying sadness and helplessness is a precursor to getting the award – but it seems like that’s what Malayalam movies handle well.

  9. VC is being unfair criticizing Salim and Suraj as comedians. Lots of people enjoy their comedy. I certainly do. Most dumb movies in Malayalam run now only because of their Comedy side story lines. Off course they may get repetitive at times, but same is the case with Jagathy or any other comedian Malayalam has seen.
    Each of the Comedians in Malayalam have a different style. I believe they provide good entertainment when the style is fresh (until the next successful person comes).
    Jagathy and the old comedians are good as well, but In today’s movies Salim and Suraj makes people laugh more than Jagathy.
    And about Salimettan winning the national Award, HATS OFF TO HIM. He certainly “Entertains” the viewers, in a serious role or a comical one.

  10. I have not watched ‘Adaminte makan..’ yet so I can’t make a judgement based on that yet, but there is enough evidence from other movies that Salim Kumar does have the skill and could be deserving of such accolades. I have watched ‘Pranchiyettan…’ and I believe it was a good performance not merely because he had a range of emotions to go through but also because he pulled the accent to near perfection. But was it so great? I wouldn’t say so, I’ve seen Mammootty performing better in a lot of movies.

    So what if the roles that win awards all portray sadness/agony/helplessness? Its got more to do with the character and script isn’t it? Or how about Salim Kumar’s role in ‘Perumazhakkaalam’. It was a serious role with a slight comic undertone and it was performed pretty well. The last time an actor won a national award for a cheerful character people weren’t as happy. Saif Ali Khan in Hum Tum!

  11. Disappointed with the article and varnachitram which always believed in taking an unbiased stand.

    First of all how can someone judge or make such arguements or comments without watching a national award winning movie…i dont
    know the credibility of the author who is self proclaimed analyst
    of acting.

    Secondly fundemental concept of any form of acting (comedy, serious,melodrama) is to bring an entertainment to the viewer, which as an actor salim deliverd ample enough times in the past.

    A strong script/dialogue/direction is definetly required for any staggering actor to showcase his performance, otherwise actors like mohanlal, mammooty,thilakan or nedumudi would have always delivered a kireedam, or thaniyavarthanam kind of performance…
    Salim was unlucky in this area where he hardly had the back-up of good script writers or noval director apart from the 2/3 occasions, inwhich his performance was brilliant. So i conclude him as an actor who always grabbed the oppurtunity to deliver something which is really good, unlike many others…..A deserving award for an unsung hero (ooops comedian!!!)

  12. “He is helpless and sad. Is that the range emotions he can portray? Is that narrow range of emotions sufficient to win the national award or the state award? It looks like if you portray sadness, your performance is considered better than those who have not.”

    I agree with your viewpoint, at least in part. But before jumping to a conclusion that Salim Kumar did not deserve an award in acting, let us also remember that in this part of the world, good cinema is always equated to movies that portray pervasive sadness and an end of hope. I am not sure about 70s or 80s, but in the past 10 years, most of the so-called art movie, which are predominantly made for the eyes and ears on only award juries and film festivals, invariably tell sad stories and elicit only a narrow range of emotions in the viewer (Mostly, it would be a helplessness and despair for humanity). Any average Malayali thinks of art cinema as something unfathomable and silent. In this context, rewarding actors who portray sad roles is quite natural.

  13. I too am disappointed with this article on varnachitram, which usually posts interesting and insightful pieces. Comedians like Salim Kumar are very dear to most malayalee moviegoers, adding so much value to some movies which we otherwise wouldn’t consider watching, producing memorable dialogues and lines that we love to recount. I can’t say anything about Adaminte Makan Abu as I haven’t watched it, but I admired his performance in Achanurangatha Veedu. The man can do sad and comedic roles well. Seriously, what other emotions do you want to see from Salim Kumar that you don’t find in many other actors?

  14. article about salimkumar in movietoday online E- magazine
    to read visit http://www.movietodayonline.in
    intresting…………… enjoy reading…………..

  15. this article is so disappointing. It looks like its written for Renjith. I havn’t seen the movie Adaminte Makan Abu, but i saw Renjith’s Pranchiyettan and the saint. Its a below average movie. first half is somewhat OK with little satire. but second half is so crap, at some point story is dragged into somewhere else with lot of unnecessary lengthy scenes (Jagathy training the boy). Like all Renjith movies, in this movie also one character from Delhi jumps in!!! (Delhi is Renjith’s weakness) I am really surprised that this movie is send for National Award. If Renjith is expecting an award for Mammooty just for talking in Thrissur slang, he should better try some tricks which Prachi tries in his movie for Padmasree.

    • I totally agree with subash. Pranchiyetaan was a average movie, but the quality of movies coming out now are quite bad, that Pranchiyetaan looks better than it actually is. And I must say the concept was just too good and renjith could have done wonders with it. but as you said he spoiled the second half completely. it was an absolute drag

  16. First of all let me correct u that national awards dont come with bharath or urvashi titles anymore. So change ur title at first place. And show the patience to wait for the film’s release before commenting..

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