Thursday, March 19, 2009

Triggering a re-think: Prithviraj

Prithviraj surprised fans and critics alike by bagging the 2006 Kerala State best actor award, writes KK Moidu

Young Malayalam actor Prithviraj bagged the 2006 State award for Best Actor for his performance as Balachandran Adiga in Vasthavam, but the announcement came as a shock to many. According to reports there was much debate in the award committee before a final decision was taken in the matter. Youths like Prithviraj are rarely known to win such awards. Such laurels normally go the way of frontrunners like Mammootty, Mohanlal and Suresh Gopi or otherwise it is veterans like Murali, Nedumudi Venu, Thilakan, Oduvil Unnikrishnan and O Madhavan.

This year too cinegoers expected Mammootty to win the award for Karutha Pakshikal or Palunku or Mohanlal for Rasathanthram or Keerthichakra. But these two were not even in the final race and actor/scriptor Sreenivasan won the special jury award for his role as a handicapped beggar in Thakarachenda, directed by the debutante Avira Rebecca.
Prithviraj was born on Oct.16, 1983 as the younger son of late actor Sukumaran and actress Mallika. His older brother Indrajith and sister-in-law Poornima are also actors. After completing his school education from Sainik School and Bharathiya Vidya Bhavan School in Thiruvananthapuram, he earned a degree in IT and later studied engineering in Australia, before entering the tinselworld.
Director-Script writer Renjith cast Prithviraj as the male lead in Nandanam opposite Navya Nair. Though the movie was a superhit and performed well at the box office Navya hogged the limelight and even won the State Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of the film's Cindrella-like character, Balamani.
Prithviraj too won the hearts of filmgoers as Manu in Nandanam and soon became a favourite of women viewers. His pairing with Navya Nair was perfect and director Bhadran repeated the pair in Vellithira. Prithviraj took a break from his studies and concentrated full-time on films. Vellithira didn't do well at the box office unlike other Bhadran films. One of the main reasons that the Malayalam audience didn't accept him in his role as Raghuram aka Style Raj. However, the song Pachamanga Pachamanga became more popular than the movie.

Prithviraj's repertoire of well-performed roles includes that of the responsible brother (Muthu) in Meerayude Dukhavum Muthuvinte Swapnavum, who always dreams of marrying off his handicapped sister; the irrepressible Romeo (Kunjoonju) in the superhit Swapnakkoodu directed by Kamal. His portrayal of the lorry driver in Lohithadas's Chakram is another example. He made a mark as the cop in Sathyam and Vargam. His portrayal of the corrupt Sub-Inspector Solomon Joseph, who falls victim to his wrong-doing, in Vargam was well-accepted by the public. He also played a naval officer in Albhuthadweep, directed by Vinayan.
The actor's five-year career gave him ample opportunities to handle different types of characters. He was also lucky to be part of the technically perfect Santhosh Sivan film, Ananthabhadram, a supernatural thriller with a novel storyline. His other movies Akale, Ammakilikoodu, Krithyam, Daivanamathil etc., also did moderate business at the box office. However, it has not always been success and accolades for this under-25 actor. He has had flops like Stop Violence, Nakshathra Kannulla Rajakumaran Avanundoru Rajakumari, Vellinakshathram, Police and Achanurangatha Veedu etc.

Although, Prithviraj proved his acting talent, he had been labelled as a hero who cannot carry a film on his shoulders alone. He was relegated to second-hero roles and so never became a superstar. Critics never credited with a status higher than that of actor Sukumaran's son. Prithviraj never got films with prestigious banners or reputed directors. His hard-hitting statements and rebellious nature got him branded as egotistical and Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes (Amma) put a covert ban on him. All this hindered him in the realisation of his dream in the megastar-dominated Malayalam industry.
When meaty roles dried up on the home turf, he tried his luck in Tamil. Like other top Malayalam stars, his debut in Tamil was not as a hero. He portrayed a different kind of villain in master cinematographer KV Anand's directorial debut, Kana Kandein. This negative character, Madan, is very different from the stereotypical villan. He does not drink, smoke, rape or even talk loudly. Lady Luck smiled at Prithviraj, when all the leading heroes refused to do the negative role. Tamil leading man Srikanth and Gopika played the lead roles in the film.
Prithvi's performance in Kana Kandaiein won a lot of praise and became the stepping stone for his wish-fulfillment as a hero in Tamil films. This came with Parijatham, directed by veteran craftsman Bhagyaraj. Parijatham also marked the debut of Bhagyaraj's daughter Saranya as an actress. After Parijatham clicked at the box office, Prithviraj became a much sought-after name. Offers poured in from reputed banners and among them Mozhi, produced by Prakash Raj and directed by Radha Mohan, with Jyothika as his heroine; Satham Podathe, directed by Vasant and co-starring Padmapriya. Prithviraj was paired with Sandhya in Kannampoochi Yeneada, which has music by Yuvan Shankar Raja and is directed by G. Thilakan.
He also signed a comedy film, Kallapart, directed by debutante Viji, a famous Tamil TV actress. Asin Thottumkal and Prakash Raj are the other artists in the film. Kallapart is a remake of the superhit Malayalam film Udhayanaanu Tharam starring Mohanlal, Sreenivasan and Meena. Prithviraj is doing Mohanlal's role in Kallapart and music has been composed by Vidyasagar. Because of his Tamil successes, he was also signed to do a Telugu film directed by Bhushan, where he is paired opposite Anjali Zaveri.
Classmates, directed by hit-maker Lal Jose, marked his comeback to Malayalam cinema. Although the film had no major stars, it went on to become the biggest grosser in Malayalam cinema's history, competing with the films of superstars, released around the same time. That propelled Prithviraj to superstardom. He has once again become hot property in Malayalam films. Classmates went on to prove that a film about youngsters can also re-write box-office history provided it has superb screenplay, direction and amazing performances.
After Vargham and Ammakkilikoodu, director Padmakumar's third movie with Prithviraj, Vasthavam, brought the actor real luck by fetching him the state award for the best actor. The film's story, written by Babu Janardanan is heart-rending. It features Prithviraj as Balachandran, the son of an honest communist leader, born in a poor Brahmin family. He works as a priest at the local temple and has heavy responsibilities like marrying off his sisters and saving the family from abject poverty. Balachandran's cousin, Sumithra (Kavya Madhavan), is his love interest and their affair has the approval of both families.
Everything, however, changes when Thruppan Namboodiri (Salim Kumar) approaches Balachandran's family with the proposal of his niece Surabhi (Samvrutha Sunil). Balachandran is promised a job in the state secretariat, if he marries Surabhi. Initially Balachandran turns down the offer. However, Sumithra expresses her willingness to sacrifice her love in order to save his family. Balachandran marries Surabhi, but on the night of the marriage, Balachandran's sister elopes with Sreedharan, an adivasi leader.
Balachandran's mother dies of the shock. After the funeral Balachandran goes to Thiruvananthapuram to take up employment at the secretariat. Balachandran comes under the corrupting influence of Unnithan, a secretariat old-timer, who has no qualms about accepting bribes. It turns out that in addition to getting a husband for his neice, Thruppan Namboodiri also wanted in his new job to obtain approval for his ceramic factory.
Balachandran get close to his divorcee colleague Vimala after learning that she is the niece of a highly influential politician, Pattom Raveendran (Murali). When Pattom becomes a minister, Balachandran is appointed his personal staff member. Balachandran uses Vimala, the minister's wife and henchmen to attain his goals. Very soon, Balachandran becomes more powerful and richer than the minister. He forgets his past, ignores his wife and the people who helped him. Vasthavam thus delves into Kerala's current political scenario - secretariat, employees like personal assistants to ministers, their private secretaries and clerical staff.
As for Prithviraj's career, the new year has begun with offers like Pakal, directed by debutante MA Nishad, where he plays a journalist. Jyothirmayi is the female lead. In Anantham, directed by Kukku, and Nammal Thammil he co-stars with Geethu Mohandas. Kadha with Kavya Madhavan as his heroine and Avan Chandiyude Makan has Sredvika as his heroine.
After the surprise success of Classmates, the big names of Malayalam cinema are re-thinking and approaching Prithviraj with offers. Renjith is casting him in his new movie opposite Mamta Mohandas and with good reason.

Prithviraj has all the right qualities. He is young but looks mature. He has a good physique and can handle both action-oriented and romantic roles with ease. This "star son" is expected to shine on the industry for a long time. His hard work and sincerity have been rewarded with success. With little competition from contemporaries his future couldn't be brighter.

Thursday, May 8, 2008


Crooning to a diffrent score

Mamta Mohandas may not be a salebale face, but can surely make a career as a playback singer, says KK Moidu

South Indian actress Mamta Mohandas can be aptly described as 'woman of many faces.' Before her debut as a Tollywood heroine, Mamta has proven her musical abilities as a playback singer in Telugu film Rakhi, directed by Krishnavamsi.
After appearing in more than half a dozen Malayalam films and a Tamil project, Mamta has entered the highly competitve Telugu industry.
Mamta hails from Kozhikode in Kerala. She was born and brought up in Bahrain and has done her schooling from Indian School, Bahrain. Mamta had returned to India to complete her higher education.
Mamta began her career as a model. She had appeared in print ads for big banners like IBM, Kalyan Kendra.etc and was also ramp model for Raymonds and Mysore Maharaja.
Her foray into films is pure luck. Mamta, who is a trained Karnatic and Hindustani classical singer wanted to be a playback artiste. But fate had something else in store for her. Mamta was introduced to veteran director Hariharan by Sreedevi, mother of late Malayalam actress Monisha.
Thus in 2005, Mamta made her debut in Malayalam in Mayookham, directed by Hariharan. Although she had no previous experience in acting, her stint in modelling helped her to do things as per director's instructions.
Eventhough Mayookham bombed at the box office, the movie's failure didn't affect her career. After Mayookham, the actress was cast by director VM Vinu as a Muslim girl in the Malayalam movie Bus Conductor. In this movie, Mamta is seen as Mammootty's sister and her performance didn't go unnoticed.
Mamta shocked her fans with her portrayal of 'Lanka Lakshmi' in the erotic thriller Lanka, directed by AK Sajan. Suresh Gopi was in the lead role 'Sravan' in this movie.
Mamta's challenging performance didn't work in the favour of the film, but she got a chance to pair as a heroine opposite a senior superstar Suresh Gopi.
Lanka is being dubbed in Telugu as Pokiri Pilla and the actress has pinned her hopes on the success of the film.
Her next film with Suresh Gopi was Albhutham, directed by the National Award winning director Jayaraj. Albhutham was the fourth movie in the 'navarasa' series directed by Jayaraj. The earlier movie in this series include Karunam, Shantam and Beebalsam.
Albhutham was completed in a record time of less than three hours in Ramoji Rao Film City in Hyderabad. Mamta's character Maria played an important role in this film.
In Madhuchandralekha directed by Rajasenan, Mamta acted as the model Indulekha. Mamta was the second heroine in the movie. The lead heroine was Urvashi, who won the Best Actress State Award for her performance as Chandramati. Jayram is the hero.
Mamta was supposed to do the heroine's role in the superhit movie Keerthichakra, directed by Major Ravi. But she opted out due to her earlier commitments. The lead role Major Mahadevan was portrayed by Mohanlal and the principal female character was done by Lakshmi Gopalaswamy.
Lady luck smiled on Mamta with the box office grosser Baba Kalyani, an action thriller directed by Shaji Kailas. Mamta's does the role of a lawyer in this movie. Madhumita (Mamta) is the villain's daughter and the hero's (Mohanlal) love interest. The movies phenomenal success boosted her popularity, despite the fact that she had very little to do in the film.
Her recent release Big B directed by Amal Neerad, Mamta appears as one of the heroines of superstar Mammootty. She earned fame within a short span of time by apperaing alongside senior superstars Mammootty, Mohanlal and Suresh Gopi.
After doing few films in Malayalam, like her seniors in the industry, Mamta shifted her focus to Tamil. She made her debut in the Tamil film Sivappathigaram directed by Karu Pazhaniappan.
The movie's lead Vishal plays an angry young man Sathyamoorthy, who begins a crusade against the corrupt political system. Mamta plays a typical Tamil heroine in this film.
Although Sivappathigaram had all the necessary ingredients for a potboiler and a strong social message, it didn't make any ripples at the box office. The only highlight of the movie was Vidyasagar's music.
Mamta had already caught the attention of Tollywood directors for being chosen as Sidharth's heroine in the Telugu film Aata. But she was replaced by Ilena, a leading Telugu heroine. Mamta was supposed to sing a number for this movie. Thus it became a double loss for this singer-actress.
After Malayalam and Tamil, Mamta is now focussing on Telugu. Her upcoming projects include Hare Rama Hare Krishna (HRHK), Yamadonga and Don, wherein she will appear with bigwigs of the industry.
HRHK will be directed by Trivikram Srinivas and Mamta will be cast alongside Telugu superstar Mahesh Babu. The movie's producer states that HRHK will be a mass entertainer.
Big budget Yamadonga, written and directed by SS Rajamouli will have NTR Jr as Mamta's hero. The new project will have actor Mohanbabu in an important role. The duo NTR Jr and Rajamouli had earlier created the superhit movies Student No.1 and Simhadri. Like other Rajamouli films, MM Keeravani will be composing the music.
Mamta's forthcoming Don produced by ML Kumar Chaudhary is made by Kriti Creations. Actor Nagarjuna will play double roles, one as a hero, other as a villain. Director Raghava Lawrence, who has already proved his talent as a craftsman, choreographer and as an artiste, will make his debut as a music director in Don. Script and dialogue of the film is done by Bommarillu and Annavaram fame Abburi Ravi.
Mamta's entry as a playback singer was purely incidental. While she was humming a tune all to herself at AVM studio, music director Devi Sri Prasad spotted her talent and gave her a chance to sing the title song in Rakhi. The song turned out to be a big hit. None of the listeners could discern the fact that Rakhi's title track was sung by a non-Telugu girl.
In Malayalam, Mamta has been a heroine for senior superstars and in Telugu her movies with frontliners, are slowly becoming a major crowdpuller. The actress is very lucky in one aspect. Eventhough she may not be a salebale face in Telugu cinema, Mamta can surely make a career as a playback singer.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Re-working the magic
Malayalam cinema’s safe star, Jayaram, is eyeing new projects to give his career graph the much-needed boost, KK Moidu writes

Malayalam actor Jayaram has pinned hopes on Madhuchandralekha, which has his lucky heroine Urvasi and is directed by Rajasenan an old ally, to renew his Midas touch at the box office. Once considered one of the safest heroes at the box office and a hot favourite of the family audience, the actor’s career has witnessed a slump since 2000, for no plausible reason. The split with his winning team-mate, Rajasenan, could be one of the reasons.
The duo have many hits to their credit. These include films like Aniyan Bava Chettan Bava, CID Unnikrishnan BA B.Ed, Swapnalokathe Balabhaskaran, Naadan Pennum Naattu Pramaniyum, Kottaram Veettile Appoottan, Meleparambil Aanveedu, Ayalathe Adheham and Malayalee Maamanu Vanakkan. Such was their teamwork that industry insiders began predicting that the director would not be unable to give a hit without Jayaram or vice versa. However, after an ego clash Jayaram rejected a film offer from Rajasenan, citing an inappropriate title as the reason. Rajasenan cast Suresh Gopi and Kunjacko Boban in his next venture, Swapnam Kondu Thulabharam. Fortunately, for the Jayaram-Rajasenan team and their fans that movie did not click.
Jayaram’s specialisation has been comedy and sentimental roles. He has also been cast as a supporting hero in many films in the past. He has portrayed characters like unemployed youth and the Namboodiri on screen with relative ease and even managed to arouse audience’s sympathy. Not surprising for before his entry into films this talented actor was a mimicry artiste. His most memorable item those days was his masterly imitation of the late Prem Nazir. During an interview he narrated an incident related to this act. Jayaram was on a flight with the late actor’s son, Shahnawaz. Gripped by nostalgia Shahnawaz requested Jayaram to speak to him in his father’s voice and manner. Then Shahnawaz shut his eyes and Jayaram spoke to him in Nazir’s voice. According to Jayaram the joy on Shahnawaz’s face was unexplainable. He thanked the actor and told him that for a moment he felt he was with his father.
With such incredible talent there was no looking back for the actor during the initial decade and half or so, but with Dileep’s entry things began to change. The younger star had the same mimicry background and also specialised in comedy. His popularity proved a setback for Jayaram’s career. Dileep was repeatedly cast in roles, which would have naturally gone to Jayaram. Another Jayaram favourite, director duo Rafi Mecartin, switched loyalties and started writing roles suitable for Dileep. Earlier, the director duo gave memorable hits like Adhyathe Kanmani, Dilliwala Rajakumaran, Puthukkottayile Puthumanavalan and One Man Show with Jayaram as the hero, but after the surprise success of Punjabi House their scripts Thenkasipattanam, Thilakkam and Pandippada were written mainly with Dileep in mind.
At the peak of his career Jayaram received several offers from Tamil film producers to play the supporting hero, but he chose to concentrate on Malayalam films and turned down those offers initially. He realised that with young Tamil actors like Vikram, Vijay, Madhavan, Surya and Ajith around, he didn’t stand much of a chance in that industry. But when his roles were offered to Dileep, he decided to try his luck in Tamil films. His Tamil films with Kamal Haasan, Tenali and Panchathanthiram, were appreciated. He also did a full-fledged comedy role in the Ajith starrer Paramasivam, directed by P Vasu. He also got a meaty role in a Sarath Kumar film. His Tamil fans lovingly bestowed on him the title of “Navarasa Thendral” (one well-versed in all the nine human qualities described in Indian literature).
Jayaram’s recent change in fortunes saw even a director like Kamal, who did more than 10 movies with the actor, refraining from casting him in his new films. Their last hit together was Kaikkudanna Nilavu. Incidentally Dileep is doing a double role in Kamal’s latest release, Pachakuthira.
Sathayan Anthikkad, another talented director with the unique record of not giving a flop, has also done around 15 films with Jayaram. Their last hit Manassinakkare, was Jayaram’s only hit film in the last four years. Even, though Manassinakkare was a runaway hit the director, however, chose to do his new films with other heroes. He cast Sunil as the leading man in Achuvinte Amma and Mohanlal as the male lead in Rasathanthram. He has also announced his next film with Dileep as the hero.
In the last six years, Jayaram’s super hits were Manassinakkare and Yathrakkarude Shradhakkai, whereas his movies like Pauran, Alice in Wonderland, Fingerprint, Amrutham, Ivar, Ente Veedu Appuvinteyum, Sesham, Theerthadanam, Naranathu Thamburan, Sharjah To Sharjah went unnoticed. Mayilattam, Njaan Salperu Raman Kutty, Malayalimamanu Vanakkam, Uthaman and Vakkalathu Narayanankutty did average business.
He is married to former actress Parvathy and they have two children. Kalidasan and Malavika. His son Kalidasan has also acted in two films. Kalidasan’s performance in his first movie Kochu Kochu Santhoshangal along with Jayaram won him the National Award for the Best Child Artiste. Another movie in his credit was Ente Veedu Appoontem in which Jayaram did the lead role.
Jayaram’s interests other than cinema include festivals, elephants and drums. He purchased an elephant and in keeping with his popularity, the elephant was called “Jayaram Kannan.” Kannan became a star at temple festivals in Kerala. He is now known as “Perumbavoor Kannan” after Jayaram chose to be its half owner, handing over its care to the temple management. The new arrangement had to be made because Jayaram and family shifted to Chennai because that was more convenient for his tight shooting schedules and children’s education.
The actor also gave a maiden performance (arangettam) with the drum (chenda) during Kerala Tourism’s Onam week celebrations at Nishagandhi auditorium at a state-level function. He performed the “Sruthimelam Panchari” a unique musical composition by chenda maestro Mattannoor Sankaran Kutty. The multi-faceted actor is also the brand ambassador of Kerala Tourism’s “Vazhiyoram” project.
His career highs include winning of the State Award for Second Best Actor and Special Jury Award for his performance in Swayamvarapandhal and the State Special Jury Award, Cine Best Actor Award, Filmfare Award, and Rottery Club Award for his performance in Thooval Kottaram.
However, his standing as a safe bet at the box office has been dented with distributors shying away from distributing his completed films. Three such films, Seetha Kalyanam, Magic Lamp and Winter, are gathering dust in the studio labs. Even projects announced with Jayaram as the hero went to others at the ninth minute. A case in example was the supporting role in Roshan Andrew’s Udhayananu Tharam, which finally went to Mohanlal. The movie gave Malayalam cinema a fresh lease of life in 2005 and for Jayaram it was a golden opportunity lost.
Given the present difficult circumstances, Jayaram’s only hope is Rajasenan’s Madhuchandralekha, a theme targetting the family audience, particularly children. The story revolves around the lives of Madhavan (Jayaram), a famous music director and singer, and his wife Chandramathi (Urvasi) and their four children in a rural setting in a fun-filled background. The twist comes after a model Indulekha (Mamta) arrives. This changes their lives. The movie draws its title from the names of its three main characters.
Anjali, Vishnu, Riya and Veena play the four children, while Bheeman Raghu, Johnny, Harishree Asokan and Tom Jacob play Chandramathy’s four brothers. The rest of the support cast comprises Babu Kalasaala, Cochin Haneefa, Sukumari, Vijaya Kumari, Liji Thomas and Indrans. The movie is produced by Samad Mankada.
Another upcoming Jayaram film is Bharathan, directed by Anil Das, and another directed by Lohithadas. Now it is for the audience to decide whether they should return this actor his crown of a safe actor on the basis of these three films.


'Angry' but more disappointed

By KK Moidu

Malayalam superstar Suresh Gopi's problem seems to be neither success nor failure, but the lukewarm response of the audience to his non-angry roles.
The actor began his career as a child artiste in 1965 in the award-winning film Odayilninnu, based on a novel by the same name. After a long layoff he returned to the silver screen to play small roles, initially, and later the villain and second hero. In his two-decade long career he has been part of several hits like Rajavinte Makan, Irupatham Noottandu, Oru Vadakkan Veeragadha, Manichithrathazhu and Innale, to mention a few. In all these hit movies although he played significant roles, it was never the lead character.
In the late 80’s he found his niche in Malayalam cinema as its angry young man, a tag he has survived with for a decade. His career witnessed a massive upswing with several films portraying him as the tough unrelenting cop and an angry young man taking on a corrupt and decaying establishment. Thalasthanam, Ekalavyan, Mafia and Commissioner were some of the films, which belonged to this genre. His talent also became visible in other roles in films like Vazhunnor, Pathram, F.I.R., Sathyameva Jayathe and Lelam. But Commissioner, directed by Shaji Kailas marked the turning point in his career. His character of Bharathchandran IPS went down well with the masses and instantly catapulted him to superstar status. And his dialogues “Ormayundo ee mugham” (do you remember this face) and “Mohan Thomasinte Uchishtavum” (Mohan Thomas’s leftovers) were on the lips of both adults and children. The fact that mimicry artistes like Kottayam Nazeer started imitating these dialogues made them even more enjoyable and popular.
Comedy movies starring Suresh Gopi also made an impact at the box office, but there he had to share the credit with other artistes. Thenkasipattanam, for example had Dileep and Lal, whereas Sundarapurushan had Mukesh. But these films showed that he had a flair for comedy as well.
His portrayal of Kannan Perumalyan in Kaliyattam, a Malayalam remake of Shakespeare's Othello along theyyam lines, fetched him the national award for best actor, his greatest achievement this far. Although he was subsequently nominated for the Kerala state best actor award for his performances in art films Ullam and Makalkku, he lost the crown to his senior Mammootty.
Even though he has acted in over 200 films, his golden era was the 90’s. When viewers seemed to have tired of his gun-toting image, khaki uniform and dialogues, Suresh Gopi lay low for some time. However, much to his disappointment, he was not even accepted, when he tried to experiment. Swapnamkondu Thulabharam, a family movie bombed badly and the actor, it seemed, had lost his Midas touch.
Rumours began doing the rounds that the actor had political ambitions and that he was planning to contest the parliamentary elections from the Kollam constituency as a United Democratic Front (UDF) candidate.
After a four-year gap he made a comeback on the screen with Ranji Panicker at the helm in Bharath Chandran IPS, a sequel to his earlier mega-hit Commissioner. Once again the police commissioner’s role in Bharath Chandran IPS gave his career a fresh lease of life. The movie was widely acclaimed and he regained his image and again donned the police officer’s uniform in Tiger, directed by Shaji Kailas. Tiger didn’t do well at the box office so other police dramas didn't follow soon. Politician Rajmohan Unnithan played the chief minister’s role in Tiger and the film’s publicity didn't work favourably.
After Tiger flopped and he opted to play the role of Captain Sravan in director-writer AK Sajan’s Lanka, he sought a break from his angry young man image by doing a character with negative shades. In Lanka Suresh Gopi plays an army officer sent to Sri Lanka by then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. He stays back and starts a shipping business in Sri Lanka and eventually marries Lanka Lakshmi, a role played with elan by Mamta Mohandas. However, the army officer has a troubled past as a womaniser. Some parts of the film were picturised in a bungalow in Sri Lanka, considered one of the biggest in Asia. But the erotic thriller didn't click at the box office, because it did not live up to Malayalam cinema-goers’ expectations and so the actor’s efforts went unnoticed.
Anil C. Menon, the director of Ben Johnson and Malsaram, has cast Suresh Gopi for his new movie Rashtram, where he plays the role of a chief minister. After the success of the Dileep starrer Lion, directed by Joshi, there is suddenly a glut of films about politicians, who try to cleanse the system. In Lion Dileep played Kerala’s home minister and he excelled in it, making the movie a super hit. Suresh Gopi on the other hand is a step ahead because he plays the chief minister in Rashtram. If the movie clicks at the box office, one is likely to find him in many more political dramas.
Rashtram’s storyline is thus Kerala’s chief minister dies all of a sudden and Kerala Gandhi Ouseppachan, a former central minister, played by Madhu refuses to accept the chief minister’s post because of ill-health. It is then that opposition leader AK Gopalan (Thilakan) suggests that Ouseppachan's son Thommichan (Suresh Gopi) be made the chief minister. Thommichan, a timber merchant, is not interested in politics. He, however, believes in helping the poor and his popularity amongst the masses is well-known.
Finally Thommichan accepts the chief minister’s post thinking that he will be able to do something for the poor and the needy. But when he starts cleaning up the entire system, the politico-criminals and rivals take offence.
Suresh Gopi's favourite director Shaji Kailas’s new movie Chinthamani Kolacase will offer him a character, very different from anything he has played so far. The actor has put all his hope into the film. The duo, who made more than 10 films together, will partner in a murder mystery. Their perfect understanding is something to be watched in their new movie.
Suresh Gopi's fiery dialogues, action scenes, good acting and portrayal of a crime investigator will be the highlights of Chinthamani Kolacase. Unlike his earlier Shaji Kailas films, he does not play a police or army officer but a lawyer, Lal Krishna Veeradiyar, who has never lost a case.
Shaji Kailas has flown in nearly 10 models to play a gang of rich girls called “Mirchi Girls.” The girls help Suresh Gopi in his investigation of the murder of their colleague Chinthamani, the daughter of a temple attendant. Veeradiyar delves deep into the details of the case to bring the real killers to justice and in the process uncovers a major crime gang.
The movie also has Sai Kumar, Murali, Manoj K. Jayan, Siddique, Sukumari, Biju Menon, Bhavana, Aiswarya, Vani Viswanath and Poornima. Bhavana plays the central character, Chinthamani.
Even though Suresh Gopi has proved that he can handle all kinds of roles, the viewers don’t seem to be willing to accept him in all kinds of roles. If Veeradiyar becomes a success he will have to wear the black gown again and again. On the other hand if Chief Minister Thommichan scores, Suresh Gopi will be saddled with many more chief minister roles. But one thing is for sure, if he doesn't do well in either of these roles, we can expect another Commissioner sequel, which will definitely give him the chance to prove his pull at the box office.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


14 TIME OUT The Gulf Today / Thursday, May 17, 2007
Shilpa Shetty, who makes her first screen appearance
after the international racism controversy and
Richard Gere’s hug and kiss drama was recently in Dubai to promote her latest film Life in a Metro. Director Anurag Basu, producer Ronnie Screwvala, co-stars Shiney Ahuja and Irrfan Khan were also present at the press conference
organised by Star TV. The event was held at Falcon Ballroom in Le Meridien Dubai.
In Metro, Shilpa plays a talented but bored housewife Shikha who gets involved in an extra-martial
relationship. The actress came in an hour late, wearing jeans and a white jacket with little makeup. Shilpa
happily answered the journalists queries.
“ In real life I would never get involved in an extra marital relationship. I grew up in a healthy environment
and my parents share an excellent relationship. So extra-martial relationship is something I just
can’t accept,” Shilpa said at the
press confrence.
When asked what if her husband cheated on her, she said,” I would kill him, if he gets involved in such
a thing.”
Shilpa, who is a 30 plus single, opined that nobody chooses an extra marital relationship but some
fall into it due to situations. The actress made her debut in
the Bollywood blockbuster Baazigar. Although Shilpa played the second heroine Seema Chopra in Baazigar, her character was well accepted by the audience. In an acting
career spanning one and half decades, Shilpa has acted in more than 50 films.
She is one of the tallest actress’ in Bollywood. Shilpa has worked along with her sister, actress
Shamita Shetty, in the Hindi film Fareb.
Shilpa, who has not only acted in commercial entertainers but has also proved her talent in notable
films like Dhadkan and Phir Milenge etc. Her character Anjali in Dhadkan and Tamanna Sahani in Phir Milenge won her lot of appreciation.
After Shilpa, it was director Basu’s turn to be in the hot seat. When asked about the screen kiss between Dharmendra and Nafeesa Ali, he stated,” “I don’t know how to express romance without kissing. I think the kiss went very with the Indian audience.” The theme was another point of discussion in the press conference. “ The urban theme of the film was because of the dramatic changes in Indian cinema in the last couple of
years,” producer Ronnie Screwvala
Life in a...Metro — a glance
India is shining. The GDP is increasing. The sensex is at an all time high. Malls, multiplexes, Cars, Metros — Everything is growing — Even the distance between the
hearts. Emotions run amok in a city that fights for attention. Staying on top means running someone down; a
promotion means sidelining someone else. Love means a “no strings attached” tryst in an empty flat.
“Commitment” and “Love” are words for losers, or so they say! But life has a way of turning
things around.


Shilpa Shetty as Shikha
Atalented but bored housewife. Craves love. Her life changes track when she meets a stranger at a railway
Shiney Ahuja as Akash
The man who could not hold on to a job — or his wife. A man who held on to his values, until he himself held no value in the eyes of the world.
Kangna Ranaut as Neha
She’s fast learning that some shortcuts are too long. But changing lanes is not easy.
Kay Kay Menon as Ranjeet
The man who has to be in control. He keeps every one on their toes and in their place. His family
Sharman Joshi as Rahul
Literally holds the keys to his own success. Life is a smooth ride until he accidentally discovers that
his dream changed directions.
Konkana Sensharma as Shruti
Single, at 30, she believes she has just one life, that cannot be spent on the wrong man. Her search for Mr Right drives everyone else up the wall.
Irrfan Khan as Debu
Has broken all the signals in search for love. But a life partner remains elusive.
Director Anurag Basu seems to have an obsession with heights. In Murder, Gangster and now Metro, characters are seen hanging down or just sitting on ledges of skyscrapers. In Metro, he even gets his rock band to climb
atop a building and strum guitars. And when it isn’t guitars, it’s Irrfan and Konkona getting on a rooftop to scream their lungs out.
It’s meant to be therapeutic and we’ll take Anurag Basu’s word for it. Metro falters only in parts. Some of the narrative’s punctuation marks are overemphasised. And the spiral of human relationships often seems to replicate Mike Nichols’ Closer.
And yes, Billy Wilder’s romantic comedy The Apartment serves as a direct reference point for the Kay Kay-Kangana-Sharman triangle. But make no mistake, this is a highly original film with a voice that seems to reverberate across a limitless canvas of feelings of people in a concrete
You know you are being sucked into the lives of characters who are largely losers in the garb of white-collar dreamers, looking for love and warmth in a cold, heartless city.
After Gangster, Anurag Basu has got another winner in Metro — a subtle, sly look at a bunch of characters locked in the throes of infidelity. Basu harnesses his narrative into a fiesta of reined-in feelings, all indicating the growth of a city that cares little about one’s sensitivities.
He has an incredible eye for performances. Every actor is nearly flawless in the chaos of corroded commitments in the city. Always witty, Metro moves through a laconic labyrinth of laughter and some stifled sobs.
Sanjeev Dutta’s dialogues are very indicative of the characters’ inner world. They slice right into the characters’ hearts and give us an insight into the machinations of people so busy realising their dreams that they even forget to sleep.
On the negative side, Metro fails to connect us with the characters beyond their love life. If they have a life beyond their heart, we don’t see it.
The film should be seen as a mellow, melancholic and sharp look at love and sex in the city. The characters move in and out of some skillfully written scenes.
Despite a frail chemistry with Shiney Ahuja, Shilpa Shetty gives a nuanced performance. Bobby Singh’s camera captures Shilpa in agonised silhouettes. Kay Kay, as her insensitive husband, has a thankless role that he performs
with rare understanding.
While Sharman and Konkona are surprisingly chemistry-less in their screen relationships, Irrfan and Konkona come across as the warmest couple of this jigsaw of life. Watch them in the seashore sequence and savour their outstanding emotive faculties.
Metro is manoeuvred forward by a melee of delicious ideas ... like composer Pritam and his rock band appearing as narrators to sing their songs. The rain-motif pelts down on the plot, creating pockets of pain, desire and longing.
But the film could have done with better editing.
Akiv Ali cuts the material brutally ... but not
deep enough.


20 TIME OUT The Gulf Today / Thursday, May 17, 2007
The Gulf Today / Thursday, May 17, 2007 TIME OUT 21
The South Indian film
industry has been very
unkind to married heroines.
Jyothirmayi is an
exception. Her career
took off after she tied the knot with
her former classmate Nishanth,
who is a software engineer.
Jyothirmayi has acted in about
20 Malayalam films, few Tamil
films, a Telugu film and she is making
her Bollywood debut with Ek
Phir Baar. In her first Malayalam
film, Pilots, she had a small role
with Suresh Gopi playing the lead.
After that, she did a small role as
Jyothi in Ishtam in which Navya
Nair played the lead heroine.
Jyothirmayi then was offered a
guest appearance in Nandanam and
she proved her talent in the super
hit Kalyanaraman.
Two years after her debut,
Jyothirmayi won the Special Jury
mention at the National Awards for
her portrayal of a college lecturer
Latha in Bhavam — her first role as
a heroine. In this film she proved
her talent as an intelligent actress.
Debutante Satish Menon’s Bhavam
earned her fame at the start of her
Jyothirmayi came into the limelight
after the success of the hit
song Chingamaasam
Vannuchernnal from the blockbuster
Meesa Madhavan. This
Cochin girl became a favourite for
Malayalam cinema viewers after
her sizzling dance number in the
In Ente Veedu Appoontem opposite
Jayaram, Jyothirmayi played
his wife and the mother of two children.
Jyothirmayi played front liner
Mohanlal’s lead in Hariharan Pilla
Happiyanu. In Anyar, directed by
Lenin Rajendran, she was the heroine
of Biju Menon. She also played
a smart and curious girl’s role in the
Mammootty starrer Pattalam
directed by Lal Jose. She played
lead roles in Kadhavaseshan, Alice
in Wonderland, Chacko Randaman,
Moonnamathoral and Bada Dosth.
Unfortunately, the movies she
played lead roles in Malayalam
failed at the box office.
Jyothirmayi tried her luck in
Telugu films and made her debut in
10 The Strangers, a low budget
film. The film, directed by Rajesh
Touchriver and produced by
Manyam Ramesh had Naga Babu
in the lead role and most of the
technical team were newcomers. 10
The Strangers bombed at the box
office even after she did a glamorous
role in the film. But lady luck
smiled on her — a song sequence
shot in the rain prompted Tamil
director Saran to try her out for an
item number in Idhaya Thirudan.
Although she became a victim
of sharp criticism from all sides for
doing the item number, it earned
her name and fame in Kollywood.
The film starring Jayam Ravi and
Kamna Jethmalani in the lead roles
was a commercial entertainer.
Saran made the film for the satisfaction
of the younger generation
and Jyothirmayi’s item number
became popular.
Director Saran discovered that
Jyothirmayi was married only after
the filming was complete. Since the
item number was accepted by the
audience, Jyothirmayi was offered
the lead role in Thalainagaram,
opposite Kushboo’s husband
Sundar C.
Director Sundar C’s maiden venture,
Thalainagaram, directed and
scripted by Suraj, tells the story of
the underworld, a gang of kindhearted
henchmen. When they
decide to reform, they face several
After the success of
Thalainagaram, Jyothirmayi played
the heroine in Sabari opposite
senior actor Vijayakanth.
Vijayakanth played the title character
Dr Sabarivasan, chief cardiologist
in Chennai Government
Hospital. Jyothirmayi was his love
interest and she handled the typical
Tamil heroine role in the film perfectly.
The box office success of the
film pushed her career forward.
Jyothirmayi paired along with
the young hero Jeevan in Naan
Avanillai directed by Selvah. The
film was a remake of yesteryears
classic by the same title starring
Gemini Ganesan. The original,
directed by K Balachander, was a
blockbuster hit and noted by the
bold subject at that time, three
decades ago. In the modern version,
director Selvah gives the right twists
and turns to make the movie a hit.
Jyothirmayi played
Ammukkutty’s role in the film, a
girl cheated by the hero. After
believing that the hero belongs to
the Kerala chief minister’s family,
she marries him. He escapes with
her valuable jewels. There were four
other heroines in the film (Sneha,
Namitha, Keerthi Chawla and
Malavika). Jyothirmayi cherished
her fans and the film turned out to
be a huge success. In Naan
Avanillai, Jyothirmayi appeared in
glamorous roles and gave a good
performance. The movies phenomenal
success boosted her popularity.
Director Gnana Rajasekaran’s
Periyar — a period film opposite
Sathyaraj — put a stamp on
Jyothirmayi’s popularity in
Kollywood. She aptly played the
role of Periyar’s first wife
Nagamma about the life and times
of the rationalist leader EV
Ramaswamy Naicker aka Periyar,
father of the Dravidian movement.
Jyothirmayi’s upcoming projects
in Malayalam are Aakasham and
Bodhi. Harishree Asokan is playing
a hero’s role in Aakasham for the
first time. Asokan has shaved his
trademark beard for the offbeat film.
Bodhi is directed by veteran
drama director G Ajayan and is
based on the late Kumaranasan’s
Chandalabhikshuki. Bodhi, produced
by Oceanic Creative Group,
may become a milestone in
Jyothirmayi’s future career.
Jyothirmayi is making her debut
in the Bollywood film Ek Phir Baar
directed by Rajiv Nath. Veteran
Malayalam character actor
Nedumudi Venu has entered
Bollywood with a role as a dhaba
owner. Cinematographer
Azhagappan and art director Saloo
K. George will also mark their presence
in Bollywood.
Before her foray into films,
Jyothirmayi tasted success on the
mini screen as an anchor for Pepsi
Top 10, Your Choice, Valkannadi on
Asianet and Kalalayavarnangal on
Kairali TV. She proved her talent in
TV serials and won an award for
playing a Brahmin girl in Jude
Attipotty’s Avasthantharangal.
Another popular serial was
Indraneelam. She tried her luck in
tele-films, but it was not successful.
Jyothirmayi did not quit her acting
career after marriage like other
heroines. She decided her marriage
will not be a hindrance to her film
career. Jyothirmayi has achieved
the impossible by playing heroine
roles after marriage, where other
heroines vanished from the silver
As an actress, she always chooses
roles on the merit of the characters.
She never hesitates to accept
non-heroine roles. That may be one
of the reasons for her success in the
industry, even after marriage.

Donning the greasepaint again-SHOBHANA

Donning the greasepaint again

Shobhana will make her second innings in Malayalam cinema in a Mammootty starrer and fans expect a lot, reports KK Moidu

Padmashri Shobhana, the leading heroine of Malayalam films in the 90's, will be staging a comeback Mammootty's heroine in Shyama Prasad's Ore Kadal.
Born Shobhana Chandrakumar on March 21, 1966 in Kerala to late Chandrakumar and Dr Anandam Chandrakumar, she is the niece of the famous Travancore Sisters - Lalita, Padmini and Ragini - famous for their classical dancing skills. Shobhana's entry into filmdom happened after she was spotted by Hema Malini's mother, Jaya Chakravarthy. She was then with her aunt, dancer-actress Padmini, the most famous of the Travancore sisters. Shobhana, who was just five then, appeared as a child artiste in Amar Prem and Chemparathy etc.
As a heroine she made her Malayalam film debut in director-actor Balachandra Menon's April 18 in 1984. Although just 18 then, she handled the role of an honest police officer's wife with ease. Not surprisingly she bagged the Film Critics and Nana Gallop Poll Best new face awards for her role in April 18. The same year she acted in the superhit triangular love story Kanamarayathu, starring Mammootty and Rehman. Because of her brilliant performances and fabulous dancing skills, she was repeatedly paired as the leading lady opposite superstars Mammootty and Mohanlal.
The pairing with Mammootty created super hits like Ithiripoove Chuvanna Poove, Ee Sabdham Ennathe Sabdham, Yaathra, Kalikkalam, Pappayude Swantham Appoos, Mazhayethum Munpe, Hitler, Vallyettan etc. Even with Mohanlal she gave box-office hits like TP Balagopalan MA, Nadodikkattu, Vellanakalude Naadu, Pavithram, Minnaram, Maya Mayooram, Manichithrathazhu, Thenmavin Kombathu etc, Shobhana also played Suresh Gopi's heroine in Innale, Sindoora Rekha, Commissioner etc. and in Aramana Veedum Anjoorekkarum, Meleparambil Aanveedu. Minnaminunginum Minnukettu, Kankettu, Superman etc., she was Jayaram's heroine.
She was paired with Mukesh in Kalyana Kacheri, Manathe Vellitheru etc, and in Kumkumacheppu her hero was Manoj K. Jayan. In a Malayalam film career spanning over two decades, she has acted with many heroes but her screen appearances with the superstars was usually a guarantee of success.
A gifted Bharathanatyam dancer, Shobhana completed her training at the Chidambaram Academy in Chennai. She was trained by well-known Bharathanatyam dancers Chitra Visweswaran and Dr Padma Subramaniam.
In spite of having acted in around 200 films in various languages, her dancing skills were rarely utilised, particularly in Malayalam films, where she largely played a housewife or the hero's love interest as village or modern girl. Fazil is among the few directors, who gave her a chance to demonstrate her dancing skills in Manichithrathazhu.
However, Shobhana got umpteen opportunities to stage dance performances in India and abroad. She performed at the World Malayalee Convention in the US. Her dance tours took her all over the US, Europe, South-East Asia and Australia. In Kuala Lumpur she danced before Malaysia's king and queen.
Shobhana has participated in several music and dance festivals in India, including the famous Surya festival in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, between 1994 and 1997.
Even though her movies ran to packed houses, she has focused her attention on her first love, that is dancing. She went into a semi-retirement from Malayalam cinema to pursue this love, while contemporaries quit the industry for wedlock or because roles thad dried up or in search of more lucrative offers in other languages.
In 1994 Shobhana founded Kalarpana, a dance school in Chennai as a symbol of her commitment to classical arts. Kalarpana's aim is to raise funds by organising annual festivals in the country with famous artists from India and abroad. The funds generated were used for the benefit of financially weak but talented artistes, the physically challenged and for environment protection. As an initial step in 1994 an evening of classical music and dance titled Bharatam was organised.
She gave a classical dance recital at a spectacular function at the Gachchbowli Stadium in Hyderabad in honour of Telugu megastar Chiranjeevi, who was awarded the Padma Bhushan. The function was noteworthy because it had luminaries from Southern films as well as Bollywood, including Amitabh Bachchan. Shobhana has acted as Chiranjeevi's heroine in Rowdy Alludu and Rudraveena. The actress-dancer was also part of the Mani Ratnam stage show, Netru, Indru, Naalai.
The Government of India bestowed on her the honour of Padma Shri for her contributions to Bharathanatyam and cinema. She won the State and National Awards for best actress for her performance in Manichithrathazhu and Mitr My Friend', directed by famous actress Revathy - her second national award.
In Ore Kadal, directed by Shyamaprasad, Mammootty will play the title role of an economist. The film will be produced by Vindhyan under the banner of Rasika Entertainment. The film will see Shyamaprasad, known for serious and meaningful films like Agnisakshi and Akale working with Mammootty for the first time.
Ore Kadal is based on a Bengali novel and is scripted by Shyamaprasad himself. Besides Mammootty and Shobhana, the other lead stars in the movie are Narein (Sunil) and Meera Jasmine. Narein and Meera Jasmine were paired earlier in the superhit Achuvinte Amma. After the runaway success of Classmates and Chithiram Pesuthadi in Tamil, Narein has become popular and he is doing an important role in Ore Kadal. Meera Jasmine has never appeared in a Mammootty film before. Azhagappan handles the cinematography.
Shobhana's second innings could contribute a lot to Malayalam cinema, particularly if directors give her roles that tap her dancing talent. Most of the top heroines today are below 25 years and the reigning superstars are either touching 50 or much over that age. Shobhana though above 40, is still unmarried, making her the ideal choice for a mature heroine's role.