|Dileep and Kavya Madhavan|
Most Malayalam movie songs are filmed on location in either Kerala, Ooty, Kodaikanal or the recent favourite Pollachi. Thus Malayalam film industry did not join their brothers and sisters in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu movies who go and dance on the streets of various foreign countries, embarassing everyone in the process. The most recent Malayalam movie which violated this was Kamal’s Swapnakoodu, which had a few songs filmed in Europe.
“We had a story board for the two songs and we chose Vienna as no Malayalam film has been shot there. We had shot the songs in Vienna Old city, Salsburg, Meeraben gardens, Visionbrun palace and other places”. But unfortunately the much-hyped song picturisation in Vienna too did not help to create any overall positive impact [SWAPNAKOODU: Kamal’s bitter pill]
The location had nothing to do with the story and using this technique Kamal fell to depths only seen by Hindi film directors. Then this trend was picked up by Joshi (aka Joshiy) and Dileep. The energetic song, Shavaa Shavaa (Afsal, Sunitha Sarathy, Suresh Peters), in the film Runway was filmed abroad with Dileep and Kavya Madhavan dancing in the streets of Thailand and the beaches of Phuket. While other language heroines are scantily dressed in such scenes, since Kavya does not expose like other Malayali heroines, she remained dressed conservatively in the song.
Maybe the people of Thailand have passed a law banning the entry of these two in their country that for the new movie Lion, Dileep and Kavya Madhavan have moved to New Zealand. Apparently it was a “dream honeymoon song” and so it makes complete sense to picturize it in New Zealand.
When there are so many beautiful locations in India (watch any Mani Ratnam movie), why go abroad for picturization? With serials running on various channels, the family story no longer works on the big screen. Even if there are family stories, they all revolve around the All Sacrificing BrotherTM script. To make some money the trend seems to be to produce entertainers and this song picturization abroad is part of that strategy.
To borrow a mathematical concept, as limit of Malayalam movies approaches Hindi movies, we may seen more and more songs and stories being picturized abroad.
In Malayalam there are various Actor-Director combinations which produce the same style of movies one after other like Priyadarshan-Mohanlal, Rajasenan-Jayaram, Shaji Kailas-Suresh Gopi and Lal Jose-Dileep. These combinations are safe bets and have mostly produced economically successful movies. Occasionally these directors venture outside their tribe and try their luck with other actors like Priyadarshan with Dileep in Vettam or Shaji Kailas with Mammotty in The King.
Now Lal Jose is trying two new things. First, he is making a movie without his favourite actor Dileep. Second, this movie is not the typical comedy which is his forte. The movie stars comedian Salim Kumar in a character role, as a 50 year old man with three daughters.
“Although Samuel is a Christian, he was never really included in the fold by certain sections in the community as he was a recent convert. His wife had died earlier and he had pinned all his hopes on his three daughters. His eldest daughter, Treesa (Suja Karthika), is married to a driver. Harisree Asokan enacts the role of the drunkard driver, Johnykutty.
Samuel’s second daughter Sherly (Samvritha Sunil) is in love with her cousin. However, as Christians frown upon marriage between first cousins, things take a tragic turn. Samuel wants his youngest daughter, Lisamma (debutant Muktha) to be a doctor.
But the Plus Two student does not return home in the evening. The issues that ensue is the focus of the story,” says Lal Jose. [Reflection of society]
The music is by Alex Paul, instead of his regular Vidyasagar. The songs of the movie are out and we liked Ozhukukayi Puzha Pole (Reju Joseph, Sujatha). The song Kunninte Mele, sung by Jassie Gift irritated initially but turned out be a haunting tune. The movie was to be released on Jan 6th, but has been postponed as there are no takers for such small movies.
We do not have high hopes for this movie since this seems to be a tear jerker. There was an era when tear jerkers made lot of money and many directors like Fazil became super directors by overplaying sentiments. If people want to cry they have their own lives or TV serials.
This is a time where the buzzword is entertainer. The competition to Malayalam movies are from slickly produced Tamil movies and theatre owners are preferring Ajith and Vijay movies over Malayalam movies. But this movie might get critical acclaim for director Lal Jose and actor Salim Kumar. They might win some awards too.
This week there are two interesting releases: Balram Vs Taradas starring Mammotty and Lion starring Dileep. Last time when Mammotty and Dileep had their movies released together, Dileep was the winner. The earlier competition was between Nerariyan CBI and Chanthupottu.
After losing to Dileep, Mammotty camp had to come up with a strategy to tackle Dileep’s Lion and so they have chosen to let loose two Mammotty’s against one Dileep. With Mammotty’s current winning form, you cannot go wrong by having many instances of Mammotty in a movie.
As we understand from news reports Balram Vs Taradas is a Cop-Underworld drama. Inspector Balram (from Avanazhi and Inspector Balram) and smuggler Taradas (from Athirathram) are the main protagonists. Another attraction is bollywood actress Katrina Kaif. Directed by I.V.Sasi, the script is handled by the duo T.Damodaran and S.N.Swamy.
Lion on the other hand is a political thriller with Dileep donning the role of a young politician. He potrays the role of a straight forward politician (ha ha) fighting his father who is also a politician, but corrupt to the core. Lion is Dileep’s party’s election symbol (just in case you were worried about any Narasimham like morphing). Kavya Madhavan plays Dileep’s love interest and the movie is directed by Joshiy (formerly Joshi) with the script by the duo Siby K Thomas and Udayakrishnan. Following Hindi/Tamil/Telugu movie trends, this movie has a song picturised in New Zealand
Looking at people behind the scenes of these two movies we think that Lion will come out as the winner. I.V.Sasi has lost touch (no hits after Devasuram, which was released 10 years back), so has T.Damodaran. Another factor is the budget of this movie which has gone north of 5 crore rupees. Lion, which is a political thriller is directed by Joshiy, boosted by the success of Naran and confident by the name change. The writers Siby K Thomas and Udayakrishnan of Lion also have few successes behind them. The risk factor is that they have not done a political thriller before, but that’s something which we’ll have to wait see.
Update: The release of Balram Vs Taradas has been postponed to March 16th (Thanks: Unnikrishnan G Nair)
Suresh Gopi and Shaji Kailas have their fortunes and misfortunes entwined and it is interesting to take a look at their parallel careers.
Suresh Gopi started his career as a child artist in Odayil Ninnum (1965). Later he started doing villain and supporting roles, but his career had a sea change when he started associating with Shaji Kailas. Suresh Gopi performed well in police roles in Shaji’s movies. Thalasthanam, Ekalavyan, and Commissioner shot him to superstardom and people starting saying Mohanlal-Mammootty-Suresh Gopi in the same breath.
His potrayal of the police officer simmering with anger against wrongs in soceity, with fiery dialogue delivery went well with the masses. His trade mark used to be the angry dialogue delivered in both English and Malayalam one after the other, thus removing the need for subtitling. Often these movies showed Suresh Gopi decimating politician-mafia nexus mostly by walking in slow motion. His famous line Ormayundo Ee Mukham boosted the career of various mimicry artistes
Shaji Kailas too climbed similar heights during the same period as his fast paced political action thrillers were well received. Shaji Kailas’s hits were backed by powerful scripts by writers Ranji Panikkar and Renjith. Shaji’s favourite script writer initially was Ranji Panikkar and together with Suresh Gopi they gave a string of hits like Thalasthanam, Mafia, Ekalavyan, and Commissioner.
Commissioner was the crowning glory of this team and this movie became one of the biggest hits in 1994. In 1995 Shaji and Ranji did ‘The King’ with Mammooty and something happened after that for Ranji never did a movie with Shaji Kailas again. His next movie was Lelam (1997) with Joshi (aka Joshiy) as director.
Shaji Kailas started making movies with other script writers and tried and tested many including S.N.Swamy and finally settled on Renjith. This combination had Mammootty (in Valiettan) or Mohanlal (Aaram Thampuran, Narasimham). With Mohanlal’s star value, this team created new box office records and one day Renjith decided to direct his own scripts which resulted in Ravana Prabhu, the sequel of Devasuram.
With that Shaji Kailas was stranded. He started trying various script writers again like Suresh Babu in Thandavam, B.Unnikrishnan in Shivam and Tiger, and T.A.Shahid in Nattu Rajavu. All these experiments flopped. Another interesting fact – between Commissioner and Tiger Suresh Gopi has acted in just 2 out of 13 Shaji Kailas movies (Mahatma and F.I.R) and this period coincided with the slump in Suresh Gopi’s career.
Of course he got a national award (Kaliattam) and a few hits (Summer in Bethlehem), but he was not consistently delivering hits. After Renjith going solo Shaji Kailas never had a big hit.
After a long hiatus Suresh Gopi came back roaring in Bharath Chandran I.P.S. That movie was directed by Ranji Panikkar and became one of the superhits of 2005. Then Shaji Kailas tried to piggy back on Suresh Gopi’s new found success by directing Tiger with B.Unnikrishnan as script writer and the movie flopped!
Based on the above facts we can draw some conclusions. For Shaji Kailas to create a hit movie he needs Ranji Panikkar or Renjith. For Suresh Gopi to get a hit movie he needs at least Ranji Panikkar.
The story of this movie is very simple. Puthenpurackal Chandran (Mohanlal) had a childhood flame Indira (Shobhana) and for various reasons could not marry her. He meets her after a long time and by then she is already married and has a child. Her husband, Dr. Raghuram, a drug addict was in jail for murder and he comes back to get Shobhana. Mohanlal kicks his ass, sends him away and reunites with Indira.
The challenge facing script writer T.A.Shahid was to stretch this story to some two and half hours and so Mohanlal is made as a gulf returnee. He could have been a mafia don or lottery winner or superman and it would not have impacted the story, but making him a gulf returnee allows the script writer to add two extra characters to the movie, Harisri Asokan and Kalabhavan Mani, two other gulf veterans whose only job is to praise the virtues of Chandran.
Chandran is also the All Sacrificing BrotherTM (ASB), like Balettan, or Mammotty in Valsalyam or countless other characters before them. If you are an ASB, you need a large family. That is provided by Kaviyoor Ponnamma as mother and Innocent as the uncle. Then there is a whole bunch of people like Baiju, Sudheesh and Vishnu who are Mohanlal’s brothers. Then there are the wives and children whose only job is to provide a backdrop for Mohanlal’s speeches.
When you have a large family like this, you have to sing a few songs in Vega Land. But few songs will not take us till interval. So a villain character, played by Shammi Thilakan, comes into picture and tries to embarass Mohanlal. Since Mohanlal is the hero, he does not get embarassed and returns the favour with some strong dialogue and action, like in Naatu Rajavu. These few altercations take us past half time and so this character vanishes completely from the story, not to be seen again.
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