A Blog on Cinema

December 23, 2005
by vc

Only Kavya?

Kavya Madhavan

When Amitabh Bachchan was young, he used to be a one man act in his movies, even though the movie had other actors. He could do action, comedy, dance and drama all in the same movie. In his movies heroines would appear for the mandatory song scenes and vanish.

The same is true about Rajnikanth, Vijaykanth, Vijay movies etc. Malayalam movies as usual used to be different. From Sheela, to Sharada to Urvashi, there was always a prominent role for the heroine. In good movies like Manichitratazhu, it was Shobhana who was in the focus, even though it was a Mohanlal movie. Most Malayalam movies were family movies or romantic comedies and always the heroine had an important part.

The only exception used to be Suresh Gopi’s English-Malayalam-Hindi movies which were made to teach Malayalis various other languages. In such Terminator-style movies, Suresh Gopi used to be a one man army eradicating evil from the society and had no time for romance.

But now the trend seems to be changing and Mammotty, Mohanlal and Dileep movies too do not require heroines.

In `Rajamanikyam,’ heroine Padmapriya was just a prop with three scenes, and hero Mammootty did not have a single romantic scene with her! And in `Naran,’ Mohanlal had no heroine, except that it was subtly conveyed that Bhavana develops a soft-corner for him towards the end! There are no duets or romance, as heroines have become just ornamental in today’s superstar films. And a few films like `Makal,’ directed by Jayaraj, in which Shobana had an author-backed role was a total wash-out![ Whither the heroine?]

Due to this most Malayali actresses are moving to Tamil and Telugu movies.

The top five heroines in Tamil and Telugu cinema today are Asin, Nayantara, Gopika, Meera Jasmine, Navya Nair and Renuka Menon while Bhavana, Mallika, Nitya Das, Nandana, Sreedevika, Lakshana and others are waiting for the big break.

Bhavana took the decision to do Tamil films after her films with young heroes either bombed or never saw the light of the day and she could not do films opposite superstars. Now she is making her debut in Tamil opposite Madhavan in `Arya’ and young hero Bharath in `Veyil.'[ Whither the heroine?]

These girls are getting paid a lot more, get roles as heroines and get to act against big name actors in Tamil/Telugu film industry. Due to this older actresses like Rambha, Khushboo and Meena are getting roles as heroines in Malayalam film industry.

That leaves just Kavya Madhavan as the Malayali actress still acting as the heroine in Malayalam movies. She has acted in hit movies like Meesha Madhavan, Thilakkam, Runway, Sadananthante Samayam with Dileep where she was not just a prop in the song scenes. She has also done heroine oriented movies like Gauri Shankaram and Mizhirandilum and off beat films like Annorikkal and Seelavathi.

One day she will get married and quit acting, but atleast till then we have one Malayali actress.

December 20, 2005
by vc

Priyadarshan on copyrights

For a director who had lifted copying into an art form, this interview reeks arrogance.

It was first used for the film Boeing Boeing, made in the 60s. It’s a 45-year old film and, after 25 years, there is no copyright in the world.

Priyadarshan has copied many movies which are less than 25 years old. For example, he made Thalavattom in 1986 which was a copy of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – a 1975 movie, which he again remade as Kyon Ki.

Still, Priyadarshan has to be respected for his technical strengths, the visual feasts he gives us in his movies and for his music sense.

December 15, 2005
by vc
1 Comment

Review: Vettam


In the movie Vettam (meaning Light), there is a scene where Dileep sits next to a girl who is scared of flying. He plays a few pranks on her, but later puts a stolen necklace into her bag so that he would not get caught by the police officer (Radha Ravi) traveling in the same flight. At this point, you would be wondering where have I seen this before? (Answer: French Kiss). You would also be wondering, since this seems to an plagarized movie, would the director be Priyadarshan? (Answer: yes).

In Malayalam Film Industry, there are few director-actor combinations that produce the same kind of movies one after the other like Rajasenan-Jayaram, Shaji Kailas-Suresh Gopi, Priyadarsan-Mohanlal etc. Priyadarsan is very picky about his heroes that he always picks Mohanlal. So it was quite the news when he decided to cast Dileep in his new movie.

In this movie Dileep is a thief trying to escape with a necklace stolen from a Spanish princess. In the process he meets Veena (played by Bhavana Puri) and gets entangled in her life. She is on a trip to find her fiancee who is off to marry someone else. On the way they land in Dileep’s house and find that it is in bad shape and he needs to come up with some money to get his sister married. Hence he needs to find the necklace from Veena’s bag and sell it.

But then he had also promised Veena that he would help her reuinte with her fiancee. So they both land in a hotel in Karnataka where the engagement is going to happen. They mingle with both families which consists of who and who of Malayalam comedians and actors like Nedumudi Venu, Jagathi Sreekumar, Cochin Haneefa, Innocent, Jagadish, Mamu Koya, Kalabhavan Mani, Bindu Panikker, Sukumari and Janardhananan. What follows is a sequence of mistaken identities which is really a laugh riot.

Finally at the end, the predictable happens and all issues are resolved. The movie plays to Dileep’s strength – comedy and he delivers a good performance. The comic scenes will really make you laugh even though they are contrived. In the scenes at the hotel, there are too many characters and eventually you lose track of who, but you can ignore all that and enjoy the film. This film does not have Salim Kumar and Harisri Asokan and so the standard of comedy is high.

There is nothing great about the story as it is a rehash of French Kiss plus various other Priyadarsan movies. It has the mandatory man-woman fight (Chitram) and various people with mistaken identities (Chandralekha, Kakkakuyil) etc. The song picturization does not have the Priyadarsan touch and it seems to have been shot in a hurry. The songs too are not memorable.

Bhavana Puri as Veena does a decent job and she has to be commended for holding up in the midst of such a stellar cast. Rest of the talent do their job well.It is a decent comedy worth watching. (Unless you want to watch it few years down the line remade in Hindi).

December 14, 2005
by vc

Jayaraj’s new adventure

After working as Bharathan’s assistant, Jayaraj became a director with the movie Vidyarambham based on a script by Srinivasan. After that he gave us beautiful movies like Kaliyattam, which won the national award for Suresh Gopi and Deshadanam, which fetched him the state award for the best director.

He also gave us commercial movies like For the people and Millennium Stars which were watchable and stupid ones like Highway and Thilakkam. One thread in his art movie line is a series of films based on the navarasas. In this sequence he has completed Karunam, Shantham and Bheebhats and now he is making a new movie in the series called Atbhutham starring Suresh Gopi.

The movie is about euthanasia and Suresh Gopi plays a man waiting for his death.

The protagonist of my film, Warrier (played by Suresh Gopi), is a world-renowned playwright and director in the US. He migrates to the US at a young age, and has no contact with his family in Kerala. He is also a US citizen now. He has been suffering from pancreatic cancer for two years, and when he finds it difficult to bear the pain, asks for mercy killing. Helping him die is his US-born Malayali wife and his attorney.

Just before his death, he calls seven important people in his life to the hospital. Of the seven, there are his parents and one of his closest friends from Kerala. Only when they reach the US do they realise he has decided to die. His parents can never accept this. Another visitor on the day of his death is his love, an American, and also an actor he had groomed. [Atbhutham: A record-breaking bilingual?]

The story sounds like something new for Indian cinema and with Jayaraj’s directing capabilities it might even be a good one to watch. But we don’t understand this obsession with filming it in less than ten hours.

After a few years, no one will remember this fact and the film will have to stand on its own merit. So why not take time and make a beautiful movie instead of rushing it?

Update: IdleBrain has photos of the shoot which was completed in about 2 hours.

December 12, 2005
by vc

Music Director: Deepak Dev

In the movie, Symphony, there is a beautiful song called Pannimathiyey Punarum, Thalirambal Poove. Sung by Chita and Yesudas, this song has very less orchestration and stands out for the melodious voices of the singers. Similarly there is another song, Sughamo (Remix) sung by Sujatha and Vidhu Pratap with less orchestra and a haunting tune. The composer of this song is a new music director called Deepak Dev.

He started his career with the movie Chronic Bachelor directed by Siddique (of Siddique-Lal fame). All the songs were beautiful, but the one we liked was Swayamvara Chandrike, Swarnamani Meghame sung by Jayachandran and Sujatha. Now in an interview Deepak says that director Siddique was the reason why he came into movies.

He had almost given up on his musical career, soon after completing his graduation, “as nothing exciting was happening in my career.” But, as fate would have it, every time he tried to sell off his keyboard, it came back to him, “as the guys who bought it couldn’t cough up the money that they had promised me. And soon after the third time it happened, the Siddique-Lal duo called me to join their group for their shows in the United States. They wanted me to render some music to fill the time in-between programmes. Eventually, it was those tunes that prompted Siddique to choose me to compose the music for `Chronic Bachelor,’ my first film,” recalls Deepak.[HITTING the right notes]

The other films of Deepak are Udayananu Tharam, Naran, and Ben Johnson. Our song reccomendations are

  • Minnadi Minnadi (Naran)
  • Thumbi Kinnaram (Naran)
  • Karale Karalinte (Udayananu Tharam)
  • Raghuvamsha (Symphony)
  • Sughamo (Symphony)
  • Panimathiyey (Symphony)
  • Swyamvara Chandrike (Chronic Bachelor)

Let us know which is your favourite Deepak Dev song and why?

December 7, 2005
by vc
1 Comment

Secret to making successful movies

Most film directors when asked about the secret to their success say that there is no such formula. Some movies click and some don’t. If they knew the formula, there would be only super hit movies all the time. Due to the lack of knowledge of the magic formula, various movies still flop, including those done by Mammotty and Mohanlal.

But finally, in a moment of “Eureka”, few Malayalam film directors have found the secret to success. Once you know this secret, you don’t need a good script, good actors or good technicians. You can just sit and make any movie you like and it is guaranteed to be a financial success.

So what is this great secret? Numerology!

Directors Joshiy and Jayaraaj have each added an extra letter to the spellings of their names. The results of this change, however, have been very different.

Joshiy has scored unprecedented success as his two recent releases “Mambazhakalam” and “Naran” starring Mohanlal have been super hits. On the other hand, four Jayaraaj releases after the spelling change of his name have bitten the dust.

The person to perhaps benefit most by numerology is young director Rosshan Andrrews. He says even the spelling of his debut film “Udayanaanu Tharam”, one of the biggest hits of recent times, was suggested by a numerologist.

Now director Vinayan has followed by adding two extra letters to the title of his new film. The new title is “Boyy Friennd” and the film is expected to rake in more collections than a mere “Boyfriend” could have mustered! [Numerology hits Malayalam cinema]

So, Jayaram, if you need a hit, you know what to do.

December 2, 2005
by vc

Who is the superstar

In his most recent movie Rajamanikyam, Mammotty is seen wearing a green color shirt and yellow mundu and dancing with a bunch of people. He even attempts comedy in the movie.

Previous attempts by directors like Sathyan Anthikkad and Priyadarshan to make Mammotty do comedy have failed successfully. Since he walks with a stiff gait, his dancing is as elegant as let’s say Dileep trying to act as a man. But in the film Rajamanikyam everything seems to have clicked. The film is a big hit and it is attracting young audience.

Mammootty’s film ‘Rajamanickam’ did much better than Mohanlal’s ‘Naran’. The former fetched Rs.3.34 crores in three weeks whereas that of the latter is only Rs.2.70 crores. More importantly, the popularity of ‘Rajamanickam’ has penetrated to Mohanlal’s base like Tiruvananthapuram, Attingal, Kollam, Kottayam and Ernakulam.

‘Rajamanickam’ has an advantage over ‘Naran’, as it is short and could be screened up to 6 shows. People in Malabar region flocked to watch it on Ramzan. In fact, it did better than ‘Naran’ even in Mohanlal bases. This is indeed a real threat to the superstar [Mammootty shakes Mohanlal’s empire]

Does this mean that it is a threat to Mohanlal as the article asserts? We think that it is silly to make such assumptions based on the results of a single movie. There have been times when Mohanlal had a series of hit films and Mammotty had flops. It happens and there is no need to make a big deal about it.

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