Thursday, May 1, 2008


Back in style

Kunchacko Boban, the young romantic hero, is back in the Malayalam film industry with a film directed by Shafi, writes KK Moidu

Popularly known as Chackochan, Kunchacko Boban is returning to the film industry after an interval of two years. His comeback vehicle scripted by popular duo Rafi-Mecartin will bring him together with the Swapnakoodu team Prithviraj and Jayasurya. Superhit Swapnakoodu released in 2003 was directed by Kamal and the present numero uno Shafi will direct the new venture. The film, produced under the banner of Vishaka Films, is a Ramadan release.
Chackochan, the heartthrob of the youngsters in late 90s, vanished from the industry for the last two years. He recently appeared in a song sequence in Twenty Twenty. The high voltage song in the multi-starrer, directed by Joshi, also features Prithviraj, Nayanthara, Indrajith and Manikuttan.
According to reports, Chackochan wants to feature in mature roles in future projects. Also the heir of the famous Udaya Studio, he has announced his first project as a producer under the same banner.
Kunchacko Boban's ancestral production house Udaya was one of the biggest banners in Malayalam and is producing a film with Mammootty in the lead. Superstar Mammootty is the protagonist playing the role of a police officer. The film will give more importance to humour. The plot is based on the relationship between a cricket loving police officer and a celebrity cricket player. Sreeshanth, the only Indian cricket team player from Kerala, plays a pivotal role in the film, directed by debutante Aashiq Abu.
Kunchacko Boban, one of the promising young actors of the new breed, made his debut in the campus love story Aniyathipraavu directed by Fazil. Shalini played his lady love in the teenage love story. Former child artiste Shalini, who was a favourite of the family audience, made her debut as a heroine in the film. She started her career at the age of three and won the Kerala State Award for Best Child artiste in her maiden film Ente Maamattikuttiyammakku. She is married to Tamil actor Ajith and they are blessed with a baby girl. She quit the industry after her marriage.
Aniyathipraavu gained the attention of the masses even before its release. This is because director Fazil, an expert in making super hits, introduced the young hero Kunchacko Boban, who came from a family of film personalities and a former popular child artiste Shalini as a heroine. The film was a trendsetter and a big commercial success. This catapulted Chackochan to stardom and he became a favourite of the college campus.
His performance in another Fazil directed film Harikrishnans made him one of the top actors in the industry. The male leads of the film were played by Malayalam superstars Mammootty and Mohanlal with Bollywood actress Juhi Chawla as the heroine.
Chackochan paired again with Shalini in another love story Nakshathra Thaarattu. Although the film could not repeat the earlier super success of Aniyathipraavu, he played the lover boy's role in many films like Niram, Priyam, Chandamama, Prem Pujari, Ingane Oru Nilapakshi, Swapnakkoodu etc. A few of them like Niram and Swapnakoodu attained box office success, but other films were flops.
His half-a-dozen films Hridayathil Sookshikkan, Iruvattam Manavaatti, Five Fingers, Jalolsavam, Mullavalliyum Thenmaavum, Junior Senior etc. bombed at the box office. The continuous flops of the films, where Chackochan played romantic hero roles, forced him to switch over to serious roles. His mature roles in Kasthooriman, Narendran Makan Jayakanthan Vaka etc. achieved moderate success at the box office.
However, he could not improve in mature hero roles for a long time due to his boyish looks in a super star dominated Malayalam industry. His heroic role in Kilukkam Kilukilukkam, a sequel of superhit Kilukkam did not match expectations and he faded out from the industry.
Kunchacko Boban received offers from the Tamil industry from reputed director's like Manirathnam and Agathiyan. Unlike other actors, he refused ‘out of the state offers’ and continued in the Malayalam industry by giving more importance to his health and personal life.
Chackochan was preferred by the audience as a lover boy and his change to serious and mature roles was rejected by them. He lost a golden opportunity to play one of the heroes in the campus hit Classmates directed by Lal Jose. Chackochan was the first choice for the director in Narein's role but he refused the offer because of his earlier commitment for a US tour. The success of Classmates earned Narien many offers in Malayalam and Tamil films. The costly mistake made Chackochan realise his loss.
Like other married Malayalam heroes, Kunchacko Boban's career did not light up after his marriage to Priya Ann Samuel on April 2, 2005. The leading Malayalam heroes like Mammootty, Mohanlal, Suresh Gopi etc. were struggling in the industry as bachelors. But things took a turn after their marriages and all of them were blessed with success and achieved superstar status. Many hoped that after marriage, the teenage sensation Kunchacko Boban will become another superstar. But for the last two years he has not acted in any films as a hero or supporting hero.
Chackochan hails from the Maliampurakal family and his great grandfather Maliampurakal Mani Chacko started the first boat service in Kuttanadu. Chackochan is the grandson of legendary film producer and director Kunchacko. Kunchacko's venture Udaya studio played an important role in the gradual shift of the Malayalam film industry from its original base of Chennai to Kerala. Kunchacko produced films initially under the banner of K&K Productions with the partnership of KV Koshi. K&K produced four films including Jeevitha Nauka, considered as the first superhit Malayalam film. After the separation of Kunchacko and Joshi, Kunchacko produced Achchan, Avan Varunnu and Kidappadam under the banner of Udaya. The box office failure of Kidappadam ended with the closure of Udaya Studio and later re-opened with the help of his friend and Kerala State Minister, late TV Thomas.
After tasting success as a director in Umma, Kunchacko turned his attention to film making and directed around 40 films. The united family of Kunchacko was separated after his death. Kunchako's sons took over Udaya and Kunchacko's brother Chacko Punnoose, popularly known as Appachan and his son's started Navodaya Productions.
Appachan produced many hit films like Manichithrathazhu, Manjil Virinja Pookkal etc. and introduced veteran director Fazil and Mohanlal. The first 3D film in India, My Dear Kuttichathan was produced by Appachan and the film was released in Hindi as Chota Chetan. Appachan and his son Jijo won President's Gold Medal for My Dear Kuttichathan in 1984. Appachan directed the first cinemascope film in Malayalam. The first Indian made 70mm movie Padayottam was produced by Navodaya.
Kunchacko's son and Chackochan's father Boban Kunchacko was also an actor, director and producer. Boban Kunchacko acted in few films produced by Udaya and directed films like Paalattu Kunhikkannan, Sanchari etc.
The contributions of the Maliampurakal family to the Malayalam film industry will be commemorated forever. Kunchacko Boban, who has acted in around 30 films in his one-decade long career and the sole heir of Udaya Studio was doing real estate business for the last couple of years. Will he achieve success as an actor and producer in his second chance and continue the family legacy. The answer is to wait for fate to take its course.

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