20 TIME OUT The Gulf Today / Thursday, August 16, 2007 CINEMA
NEW LOOK AT SUCCESS
PRIYAMANI, WHO WON THE HEARTS OF FANS BY PLAYING VILLAGE-BELLE ROLES, IS NOW IN A GLAMOROUS ROLE IN THE FORTHCOMING VISHAAL-STARRER MALAIKOTTAI WRITES KK MOIDU Priyamani is a lovely heroine with amiable eyes and a smooth smile. She recently won the best actress award at the Osean’s cine-fan festival in New Delhi. Her attractive performance as Karuppachi Muthazhagu in Paruthiveeran, as a village girl who meets with a grievous end in the film, fetched her the award. Although a movie’s success depends on the entire team, an actor or actress becomes known for a particular character after the success of their roles in hit films. Majority of actors or actresses stick to those stereotypical roles and wait for luck to come their way. Priyamani, the heroine of the super hit Paruthiveeran is bold enough to say “no” to typecast roles. Surya’s younger brother Karthi played the male lead in his debut film Paruthiveeran directed by Ameer. He played a tough role, without giving the audience a chance to think that he was a beginner. In the film, the love of a girl from a respectable family changes him forever. The movie not only won rave reviews but also did well at the box-office. The highlight of the film was it’s climax. Priyamani’s riveting performance as Muthazhagu in Paruthiveeran brought an end to her agonising wait for success. Her earlier films were with big names of the industry, but she couldn’t achieve fame. Paruthiveeran took her career to new heights. Priyamani was born on June 4, 1984, into an Iyer family in Palakkad, Kerala. She is the daughter of Vasudev Mani and Latha Mani. Her father is an industrialist and mother was an international badminton player and worked in UBI as an assistant manager. She later took voluntary retirement after Priyamani’s entry into the film industry. Priyamani has done modelling for famous jewellery brands and textile houses like Kancheepuram Silks, Eorde Silks and Lakshmi Silks etc. Renowned director Bharathiraja, who discovered Revathi, Radhika etc. gifted Priyamani to the spectacular film industry. She is a smart and talkative girl, loves music, dance and acting is her craze. Priyamani has acted in four Tamil films, two Malayalam films and one Telugu film in a short span of her three-year career. She made her debut in the Tamil film Kangalal Kaidhu Sei. Although the film was directed by veteran Bharathiraja, the movie bombed at the box-office. But her excellent performance and camera-friendly aspect in the film was noted by few in the industry. Priyamani’s second Tamil film Adhu Oru Kana Kaalam was directed by talented Balu Mahendra and she proved her mettle as an actress in the film. Priyamani was the love interest of Dhanush, but the movie did not help her to make a name in the industry. Priyamani played the heroine in Madhu, a romantic entertainer and the male lead of the movie was Jithan Ramesh, Jeeva’s brother and the third son of famous producer RB Choudhary. Madhu was directed by Thennarasu and produced by Thanga Sekar. Although Priyamani was brought up in Bangalore as a modern girl, the offers which came on her way were the typical village-belle roles. In order to escape from these roles, she tried her luck in the Malayalam film industry and did a glamorous role in her debut movie Sathyam. Her male lead of the film was Prithviraj. Sathyam was noticed by the image change of Prithviraj as an action hero. But lady luck was not on her side and the movie did not give her a promising career. Her other Malayalam film Ottananayam also went unnoticed. Priyamani returned in Tamil after a break and played the deglamourised role in Paruthiveeran. Her seniors like Gopika, Navya Nair, Meera Jasmine etc. from Kerala were receiving glamorous roles in Tamil and Telugu and at the same time they performed in Malayalam films. They were shining in the industries but the pretty actress Priyamani had a tough time to establish herself in all the three languages. Priyamani’s Telugu film Pellaina Kothalo with Jagapathi Raju made her popular in the industry. The films success merited her prestigious offers like Yamadonga, Toss and Mitrudu. In the forthcoming film Yamadonga directed by Rajamouli, she pairs with Jr NTR. In Toss, a love story directed by Priyadarshini Ram, her male lead is Raja. Upendra will appear in a pivotal role in the film. Mani Sharma is the music director. In another forthcoming Telugu film Mitrudu, her hero is Tarun. After the success of Paruthiveeran offers were flooded to the actress from various sides. But all for the same village-girl roles that she performed so well earlier. Priyamani knows that rural beauty roles without makeup will not make her a front-line heroine in Tamil and Telugu. Her realisation of the industry forced her to portray the right glamour in Malaikottai. Priyamani wants to establish herself as a commercial heroine in the industry and is looking for different roles. In order to gain that roles in films, she has changed herself with new hair styles, costumes and attended film parties. Priyamani, who was known for donning performance-oriented roles, has managed to obtain offers for glamorous roles. Her experiments in style and appearance will fulfill her dream to become a sought after heroine of the South Indian film industry. Her forthcoming Malaikottai, a mass entertainer, is a big-budget film directed by G Boopathy Pandian. The story and the screenplay of the film is contributed by the director himself. The film is produced by T Ajaikumar under the banner of Lakshmi Productions. Mani Sharma tunes for the lyrics of Muthukumar and Yugabharathi. Other artistes of the film are Ashish Vidyarthi, Devaraj, Ajai, GM Kumar, Ponnambalam, Mayilsamy, Manobala, Dandapani, Azhagu, Jayasurya, Urvasi, Nirosha and Arthi. Besides her city-bred college student role in Malaikottai, Priyamani has signed another promising Tamil film, Thotta. She is paired opposite Jeevan and it will be directed by Selva. Priyamani has succeeded in gaining glamorous roles in films, but the audience will decide the success of her new glamorous roles. Whether the audience will accept her in revealing costumes or will they like to watch her in village-belle roles only is left to be seen. If her movies work well at the box-office, her dream to establish herself as an actress who can fit into any kind of role will become a reality.
Director Vinayan's Hareendran Oru Nishkalankan is an experiment with young heroes in a superstar dominated Malayalam film industry, writes KK Moidu
Vinayan's Hareendran Oru Nishkalankan is a youthful yummy film starring young generation heroes Indrajith, Jayasurya and Manikkuttan. These three actors made their debut in Vinayan films. Jayasurya and Indrajith made their debut as hero and villain respectively in Oomappenninu Uriyadappayyan. Manikkuttan moved from acting in serials for television to the silverscreen with Boyy Friennd. Bhama and Shirin join them in the female lead roles in the film. Indrajith plays the title role of Hareendran, a young computer engineer. He runs a software company and dreams of making millions from his IT business. The film narrates the problems faced by him at a crucial juncture in his life and that questions his professional and personal honesty. Gopala Krishnan aka GK (Jayasurya) supports Hareendran's activities. They like the fast and modern life, but have a lot of differences between them. They have a common aim to make it big in life and that unites them. Manikkuttan plays a different role as Alex, better known as 'Stalin' Alex, who is an electrical engineer. He is also a political leader and sports a beard and glasses in the film. He has quit his present job and works in a newspaper to sustain his principles. Alex is in his 20's but behaves like a 40-year-old. For Manikkuttan, this is first time he plays a serious role. Bhama, who made her debut in Lohithadas's Nivedhyam appears as Indhulekha. Indhu, an engineering student, is the love interest of Alex. She enters Hareendran's life at an unexpected time and that changes the meaning of his life forever. The other female lead, Shirin, who made her debut in Moonnamathoraal plays a vibrant role as Pooja, opposite Jayasurya. Pooja is the only daughter of businessman Vasudevan. He is a Gulf returnee and turns out to be an alcoholic. Vasudevan depends on his daughter's earnings and that makes GK his main enemy. Other artistes of the film are Jagathy Sreekumar, Cochin Haneefa, Salim Kumar, Saju Kodiyan, Rajan P Dev, Narayanan Kutty etc. In Hareendran Oru Nishkalankan, Vinayan deals with the young generation who want to enjoy every moment of their lives. He also maintains suspense in the film by focussing on the fate of people who are accused of committing a crime — that happens without their knowledge. The film tells the story of present-day youth who work in the booming IT field in India. It also goes into the unwillingness of political parties, especially the leftists, who do not accept the current socio-economic changes around them. Director Vinayan himself pens the dialogues of his elder son Vishnu's story. Vinayan has given the necessary time for the basic plot to develop to suit the layout of a full-sized film. Hareendran Oru Nishkalankan is produced by Satheesh Nair under the banner of Nandikesh Film. Bernie-Ignatius sets the tunes to the lyrics by Vayalar Sharath Chandra Varma, Prabha Varma and Rajeev Alunkal. Cinematography is done by Venugopal and G Murali edits the film. Vinayan is a director who experiments varieties and shoulder's new challenges. His attempts to be successful with so-called variety has not triumphed always. He has tasted success, though, with films like Vasanthiyum Lakshmiyum Pinne Njanum, where Kalabhavan Mani played the male lead as a blind man. The box office victory of the film gave Mani, who always played second fiddles to superstars, a star image. Mani fetched the National Special Jury Award for his portrayal of the blind man. Vinayan once again casted Kalabhavan Mani in the lead role in Karumadikkuttan which also became a hit, despite the absence of superstars. Other directors, who make films with young and good looking heroes in action and romantic roles, struggle for survival in the industry. But Vinayan films, with not so good looking heroes, have created wonders at the box office. This proves Vinayan's credentials as a director. Vinayan's Oomappenninu Uriyadappayyan was made with debutante Jayasurya in the lead in a mute and deaf role. No other director had the courage to experiment with this type of film with a newcomer as the hero and another fresh face as the villain. Vinayan has also been successful with established actors like Mammootty with whom he made such superhits as Rakshasa Rajavu and Dadasaheb. He made continuous hits even when the Malayalam industry was in the doldrums because cinema houses were flooded with soft-porn films with actresses like Shakeela and Maria. Vinayan's 25th film Albhuthadweep (Wonder Island), has been his bravest effort so far. He selected dwarf actor Ajay Kumar (Undapakru) to play the hero in the movie, though Undapakru has never played a hero before. Vinayan thus rewrote the concept of hero in Malayalam cinema. Prior to Albhuthadweep, Undapakru was seen only in bit roles and on television in comedy programmes. The film’s storyline was as different as its cast. It was about an island full of dwarfish men and normal women. Vinayan arranged for 300 dwarves from various parts of Kerala, Gujarat and even Bihar. One of the main reasons for Vinayan’s extraordinary success could be the fact that he goes for variety while selecting stories. But his efforts are not always fruitful. He failed in his experiments with the last couple of films like Black Cat, Adhisayan and Boyy Friennd, although he got noticed for some reason or the other. Black Cat was Vinayan's first film along with Suresh Gopi. Sci-fi thriller Adhisayan was noticed as it was the debut of Bollywood actor Jackie Shroff in Malayalam cinema. Another attraction was the central character played by a six year old boy Devadas. Boyy Friennd was embroiled in controversy because Vinayan used computer wizardry to show superstars Mammootty and Mohanlal in a song sequence in the film without the permission of the actors. This visual feat was achieved by the technicians who used masks on the actors. Both Mammootty and Mohanlal complained to the Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes (AMMA) about Vinayan capitalising on their popularity to promote his own film. However, to the surprise of critics, Vinayan started his next project after completing his present one as he never finds difficulty in finding a producer. Before the release of Hareendran Oru Nishkalankan, Vinayan hit the headlines once again — Amitabh Bachchan, the greatest star of Indian cinema, will make his appearance in a Malayalam film directed by him. The film will be produced by Satheesh Nair and BS Nair will have Big B in the role of a retired police officer. The film will also star half-a-dozen young popular Malayalam and Tamil heroes in other key roles. According to reports, discussions are going on regarding the availability of dates of the megastar. If Vinayan succeeds in casting Big B in his forthcoming film, it will not only be the biggest achievement in his career, but also a great moment in the history of Malayalam cinema. Otherwise, it will drag Vinayan into another controversy which goes hand-in-hand with his career right from the start.
Moving away from her image as the sultry, glamour girl, Bipasha Basu takes on the role of a physiotherapist in Dhan Dhana Dhana Dhan Goal. KK Moidu writes
In Goal, Bipasha Basu, the cat-eyed actress, appears in a totally new look in a completely new role. Directed by Vivek Agnihotri, it is the story of contemporary Asian expatriates in the UK, told with the backdrop of professional soccer. Appropriately named, Goal is based on the game of football. Rumana (Bipasha Basu), is the team's physiotherapist. She is the cousin of team captain Shaan (Arshad Warsi) but she falls in love with Sunny Bhasin (John Abraham) and that complicates the situation. But she shows maturity and values the club's interest more than anything else. The story revolves around Southall United, a football club going through a crisis. The messy team has no coach, no star players, no sponsors and definitely no audience. In order to survive, the dying football club must beat every opponent and win the Combined Counties Football League in England. They hope to reawaken the team and win the cup. The city council teams up with a sports commentator to acquire the large area of land of the Southall United Club and that even puts the existence of the club in a dilemma. The city council sends an eviction notice by blaming the club's lustreless performance and threaten to take the land from them unless the team improve their performance. They are sure that the team will never give a better achievement and will lose the cup and the land will finally come to their hands. But the owner of the club, Sir Devi Dayal Dhariwal, hopes to save the land from greedy hands. He plays the last card to save the team by appointing a new coach. Tony (Boman Irani) is assigned as the coach of the team. He is traditional and he wants the teams and players under his rule. He is an ex-player and forced out of the game after threats due to extreme racism. His resurrection of the team has to fight his own demons. Sunny is a celebrated footballer and hopes to join a top team like every aspiring British footballer. He is not selected for the National Team because of his skin colour, so he joins the Southall United and is forced to reconsider his plans. His relationship with his father and girlfriend and his future as a footballer are at stake and he has to make a final decision. The captain of the team Shaan doesn't like Sunny's entry in the team because of professional jealousy. He can't see eye-to-eye with Sunny, who replaces him when he got injured. But he tries to make a comeback in the team. The rest of the film tells how the coach manages to re-arrange and strengthen the entire team. Will the Southall United win the title and preserve the ground? One has to wait and watch. Goal is the second sports-based Hindi film of this year after Chuk De India, starring Shah Rukh Khan. Chuk De India was about the neglected game of hockey. Produced by Ronnie Screwvala under the banner of UTV Motion pictures, other major roles are played by Naveen Andrews, Arshad Warsi, Boman Irani, Kushal Punjabi and Dilip Tahil. Music is scored by Pritam Chakraborty. Kolkata girl Basu, one of the tallest actresses in the Mumbai film industry, is the second of three daughters (her elder sister is Bidisha and younger is Bijoyeta) and is lovingly called Bonny. But among her friends, she is better known as Bips. Basu was born in New Delhi and her family later moved to Kolkata. Her entry into films and modelling was accidental; she wanted to study chartered accountancy or medicine. Basu came into the limelight after winning the Ford Supermodel of the World 1996 contest at the age of 17. She is also the winner of Tulips Miss Super Vivacious. After her victory, she flew to New York, where she was spotted by the renowned photographer Steven Meisel. After appearing in Vogue magazine, she was flooded with offers for modelling, but, she gave it up and returned to India. Before acting in films, Basu shot to fame by appearing in prestigious advertisements. She became popular with the famous video Tu for Sonu Nigam's album Kismat. She also made a guest appearance in Jay Sean's music video Stolen. Like other models and beauty pageant winners, Basu was also attracted by the Indian film industry. She made her debut in Abbas Mastan's Ajnabee and won the Filmfare Best Debut Actress Award. She played a married woman's role, who goes all out to woo her husband's married friend. With this film, she got the chance to share the screen with leading Bollywood actors Akshay Kumar, Bobby Deol and Kareena Kapoor. The success of the film gave her career a boost. Basu played an amazing role in Raaz, although it was just the beginning of her career. Since then, she has played different roles in almost two dozen films. She also made special appearances in more than half-a-dozen films that includes the song sequence Phoonk De in No Smoking directed by Anurag Kashyap. Basu's item number Beedi in Omkara also won her acclaim. Basu was nominated for the Filmfare Best Actress Award for her performance in Raaz and Corporate. She was also nominated for the Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award in No Entry and for the Filmfare Best Villain Award in Jism. Basu also tried her luck in regional films. She made her debut in the Telugu film Takkari where she played the mischievous thief Donga. The Mahesh Babu-starrer was later dubbed in Hindi as Choron Ka Chor. Basu also starred in the Tamil superstar Vijay's Sachien. Her character in the film as Manju, who runs behind the hero in skimpy clothes, did not earn her other prestigious offers from South Indian directors. After Goal, the audience can decide whether they like Basu's new look or not. Will they prefer the track pants, jackets and specs, or her glamorous appearance which made her the darling of the masses. If Goal brings out the untapped talent in Basu as an actress, it may prove to be a turning point in her career.
Eminent comedian Innocent was felicitated with the Sathyan Award for his contribution to the Malayalam film industry. KK Moidu writes
The Sathyan Award was initiated in the memory of the renowned Malayalam actor, late Sathyan, who ruled the Malayalam film industry until his death in 1971. The award includes a cash price of Rs10,001 and a medallion designed by artist Aryanad Rajendran. The award was presented to Innocent by the Forest Minister of Kerala, Binoy Viswam, on Nov.9 at the Sathyan Memorial Hall. A three-member jury headed by director K Madhu chose Innocent, one of the most successful actors of Malayalam cinema, for the prestigious award. Innocent Vincent was born in Irinjalakkuda, Thrissur district in Kerala. He entered the film industry two-and-a-half decades ago. At first, he produced a few serious offbeat films, but he was not successful. In the acting field though, he hit the jackpot. In the long span of his career, Innocent has worked in around 500 films in a variety of roles, mainly in Malayalam. He has also done a few Tamil and Hindi films. Innocent is one of the leading comedians of Malayalam films. He is a veteran in performing comic roles in his own style with a signature Thrissur accent. He shone on the silver screen as a comedian in superhit movies like Ramji Rao Speaking, Maannar Mathai Speaking, Kilukkam, Godfather, Vietnam Colony etc. Innocent also excelled in character and villain roles. He proved his skills in serious roles with a touch of laughter in Kabooliwaala, Gajakesariyogam, Mithunam, Mazhavilkavadi, Manassinakkare, Thuruppugulan, Rasathanthram, Mahasamudhram etc. His effort, along with that of the superstars who starred in the films, played an important role in their success. His role as Warrier (a Hindu caste man) in Mohanlal-starrer superhits Devasuram and its sequel Raavanaprabhu was noticed for its nuances in the performance. The role is one of the best in his career. His pairing with KPAC Lalitha was perfect and Pai Brothers, Manichithrathazhu etc are a few examples. Innocent always laughs with the audience with his outstanding performances in comedy roles. Either as a responsible house owner or irresponsible elder member of the family and even in villainish roles, he contributes with his own style. His typical Thrissur-style dialogue delivery and hilarious performances in comical roles with witty mannerisms has created waves of laughter in movie halls. That has made him popular among the audience. Innocent is also the most imitated actor of Malayalam cinema and mimicry artistes have brought him closer to women and children among his fans. At the mimicry events held during the Onam festival season, artistes like Raja Saheb, Kalabhavan Yousuf, Tiny Tom, etc. imitate the voice and behaviour of Innocent for Maveli (the legend behind Kerala's harvest festival Onam). This kind of performance not only helps the programme achieve success, it also takes Innocent's fame to new heights. Innocent's participation in stage shows also guarantees him a leading role as an anchor or performer. His Kathaprasangam (a kind of oratory, combined with poetry) Olayaal Menjoru is one of the regulars in Gulf stage shows. Innocent has been the president of Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes (AMMA) for the last nine years. He has held the post for the last three consecutive terms and has managed to successfully handle the issues in his own inimitable manner. Innocent's name was heard in politics as an LDF-supported independent candidate from the Irinjalakkuda assembly constituency in the last Kerala elections. But nothing came of it. He made it clear he didn't have a mindset of a politician. It is perhaps one time when even the politicians laughed!
The Malayalam film industry lost one of its glorious actors ever — Sathyan — when he passed away at the age of 59. But he still lives in the hearts of cinegoers with his superior and male symbolic roles. Sathyan's strong performance and style of acting made him stand apart from the crowd of heroes of his time. Sathyanesan Nadar was popularly known as "Sathyan." He is a two-time Kerala State Film Award winning actor. He entered the film industry at the age of 39. He won the best actor award for his role in Kumarasambavam in 1961 and Karakaanakadal in 1971. Sathyan was the leading star of Malayalam films in the 60's. He was well-known for playing ideal male symbol roles. On the other hand, actor Prem Nazir was recognised as a romantic hero in the beginning of his career though he later drew attention by playing movies with themes based on social and religious injustice in the society. Another actor, Madhu, was usually picturised as the sad and suffering lover's role. Sathyan was born in Nov.9, 1911, in the village of Nagercoil, Tamil Nadu. The place was a part of the State of Travancore. Before his entry into filmdom, Sathyan was a teacher and served the army as a soldier and took part in WWII. Before taking up his acting career, he also worked as a clerk at the Trivandrum Secretariat and the Travancore State Police Department as a sub inspector. He was an inspector during the 1947-48 communist riot in Alleppey North Police Station. As an actor, his career's turning point came in Neelakkuyil. It was the first National Award winning Malayalam film. Although Sathyan has delivered memorable performance in a variety of roles in different films, Sathyan's most popular film is Chemmeen. His character Pazhani, a fisherman in the film, was an epic love story set against the background of the coast of Aalappuzha. Chemmeen was based on the story of Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai and the heroine of the film was Sheela. After the film, Sheela came to be known as the Karuthamma (the name of her character in Chemmeen) of Malayalees. Sathyan had his own style of acting and his role as a rickshaw puller in Odayil Ninnu is one of the best in his career. He played the title role in Kayamkulam Kochunni released in 1966 and it was noticeable by his excellent performance. Playback singer KJ Yesudas also played an important role in the film. The movie tells the story of a good thief, who was a favourite of the poor and downtrodden in Kayamkulam in Kerala. Sathyan played historical characters based on Vadakkan Pattukal. He has played legendary heroes like Thacholi Othenan. He also delivered memorable performances in revolutionary roles in Ningalenne Communistakki based on Thoppil Basi's novel and Inquilaab Zindabad.