Thursday, December 27, 2007


New pair, new direction

Meena plays the heroine opposite Manoj K Jayan in the forthcoming Malayalam film Kaavyam, directed by debutante Aneesh Verma and Santhosh, writes KK Moidu

Meena, who has played the heroine opposite front-line Malayalam heroes Mohanlal, Mammootty, Suresh Gopi and Jayaram, is for the first time being paired with Manoj K Jayan in Kaavyam.
The movie will be produced by Saji Kadambazhippuram and Rashi Chelakkara under the banner of Sai Baba Films. Other artistes of the film are Nedumudi Venu, Sai Kumar, Vijayaraghavan, Ponnamma Babu etc.
Meena was introduced to the Malayalam film industry by director Sibi Malayil in Santhwanam. She played Suresh Gopi's daughter in the film released in 1991. Its success made her famous which lead to roles with senior Malayalam heroes. She was the female lead in Varnappakittu, Olympian Antony Adam, Mr Brahmachari, Naatturajavu, Chandrolsavam and Udhayanaanu Thaaram opposite Mohanlal.
Her pairing with Mammootty in Rakshasa Raajavau directed by Vinayan was a superhit. She was the love interest of Jayaram in Kusruthtikkuruppu and Friends. In the forthcoming Magic Lamp, she will be playing the heroine opposite Jayaram.
Meena was the female lead opposite Suresh Gopi in Dreams directed by Shajoon Karyal. In the recently released Black Cat featuring Suresh Gopi, she is one of his heroines. Meena played Sreenivasan's wife in the Christmas release Kadha Parayumbol.
Although her films like Udhayanaanu Thaaram and Raakshasa Rajavu were box office hits, the success did not boost her career in the Malayalam film industry. The delay of the release of Black Cat put a pause in her film career as well.
Meena Durai Raj was born in Sept. 16, 1979 in Chennai as the daughter of R Durai Raj and Raja Mallika. Meena completed her eighth standard from Vidyodhaya School in Chennai. Her early entry in filmdom forced her to discontinue her education before matriculation. However, she passed her 10th standard with private coaching and earned a degree from Madras University through the open university system.
Meena started her career as a child artiste at an early age and performed in South Indian language films like Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Hindi. When she was an eighth standard student she became a heroine. She succeeded in delivering a mature role at the age of 13.
Her first film was Nenjangal with Sivaji Ganesan. After that she worked in many films as a child artiste like Anbulla Rajinikanth, Uyire Unakkaga, Rendu Rella Aaru, Sirivennela etc.
Meena played a married woman's role in the 90s Sun TV Serial with famous Tamil actress Manorama. She achieved success at the age of 11 by portraying a married girl's role. She was the female lead in Sun TV serial Lakshmi.
Meena made her debut as a heroine in Tamil film Oru Pudhiya Kadhai and played heroine roles in more than three dozen films. En Raasaavin Manselae, Yejamaan, Bharathi Kannama, Naattaamai, Avvai Shanmughi, Porkaalam, Muthu etc. brought her popularity among the audience.
Meena's Telugu admission as a heroine was opposite Rajendra Prasad in Nava Yugam. She has played heroine roles in more than 40 Telugu films. Her career's turning point in Telugu was Seetha Ramayya Gaari Manava Raalu, where she played Nageswara Rao's grand daughter. The film continuously ran for more than 200 days in Andhra Pradesh. Telugu film Chanti opposite senior actor Venkatesh was a milestone in her career and the film ran for more than 200 days.
Meena also acted in few Kannada films like Putnanja, Cheluve3, Mummaga, Autograph etc. She was a strong presence in the Tamil and Telugu industry as a leading heroine. She entertained the viewer's with her charming looks and acting talent for nearly one-and-a-half decades from the early 90s. She performed well in almost all roles with an innocent sweet smile, beautiful eyes and a baby voice.
In her long career she has mainly played characters without negative shades. She also surprised her fans by appearing in glamorous roles and item numbers in few films. Her role in the Tamil film Maaman Magal opposite Sathyaraj and Mutta Mestri in Telugu opposite Chiranjeevi etc. are examples.
As an actress Meena always selects her character, which will not be similar to her earlier films. She was lucky enough to pair opposite leading South Indian superstars like Rajinikanth, Kamal Hassan, Chiranjeevi, Venkatesh, Mohanlal, Mammootty etc. The commercial success of Muthu, Yejamaan etc. opposite Rajinikanth earned her fans and fame in Japan.
Meena is a trained Bharathanatyam dancer and speaks six languages Tamil, Telugu, Hindi, Malayalam, Kannada and English.
She is the winner of the prestigious Kalai Maamani Award from the Tamil Nadu Government. Her performance in Seetha Ramayyagaari Manavaralu and Rajeshwari Kalyanam fetched her the Nandi Awards from the Government of Andhra Pradesh.
In 1993 she won the Tamil Nadu Government Best Actress State Award for Ejamaan and Sethupathi IPS and in '98 for the film Porkkaalam.
Meena won Six Cinema Express Best Actress Awards and Thumps Up Best Actress Award for the films Muthu and Bharathi Kannamma.
Meena won several other Awards from respective organisations like Kalai Selvam Award from the South Indian Artiste Association from the hands of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Karunanidhi and Dinakaran Best Actress Award etc.


Manoj K Jayan is the son of famous Carnatic musician Jayan of the Jaya-Vijaya fame. He was born in Kottayam and has excelled in many roles in Malayalam and Tamil films.
He won the Kerala State Film Best Actor Award for his performance as Kuttan Thampuran in Sargam. He secured a place in the hearts of cine goers by immortalising the characters in Ananthabhadram, Perumthachan etc. He also performed second hero and negative characters in crass entertainers like Rajamanikyam, Maayavi, Big B, Rock N Roll, Udayon etc.
Manoj K Jayan made his debut in Perumthachan directed by Ajayan. After that he acted in reputed directors notable films like Valayam, Sargam, Venkalam, Chamayam, Sallapam, Palayam, Manthrika Kuthira, Swarnakireedam, Churam, Valliettan, Saivar Thirumeni, Ravanaprabhu, Thandavam etc.
He is doing important roles in forthcoming films Twenty Twenty, Pazhassi Raja, Oru Pennum Randaanumm and Akasha Gopuram etc.
Although he has played heroic roles in many films he never rejected second hero and negative roles. He perfectly did whatever roles comes to him. He achieved more success in doing second hero and villain roles. He also proved his talent as a playback singer in Saivar Thirumeni (Alli Kallinu Vellam Kootti).
He is married to award winning actress Urvashi.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Vying for top spot this fesival season

The Malayalam film industry gears up for the festival season with four new releases, Flash, Kadha Parayumbol, Kangaroo and Romeo. KK Moidu writes

The festive season, Christmas and New Year, coincides with Eid Al Adha this year and frontliners Mohanlal, Mammootty, Prithviraj and Dileep have new releases for their fans. The last season of the year is one of the best times for new releases, not only in time for the celebrations, but also for the two-week holiday in Kerala.
Director Sibi Malayil and Mohanlal team up after an interval of seven years in Flash. Fans of the superstar have high expectations of the psychological thriller scripted by journalist S Bhasura Chandran. Recording artist Gopi Sundar makes his debut as the music director.
Of Notebook fame, Parvathy plays Dhwani, an obstinate rich girl, born and brought up in Chennai. She is the sole heir of the wealthy Kalarithodi family but has little knowledge about her relatives or her state, Kerala.
After the death of her mother, Dhwani returns to her ancestral home in Kerala. She is welcomed with immense love and affection by her grandfather because of the long years of separation. Mithun Madhavan (Mohanlal), a Mumbai-based IT businessman's entry in her life changes everything.
Jagathy Sreekumar plays an important role in the film as Idea Sasi, a close friend of Mithun. Sasi always has ideas, which are always impractical. Tamil actor Ponvannan, Indrajith, Sai Kumar, Jagadheesh, Siddique, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Bijukuttan, Vineeth Sreekumar, Shamna Kasim etc. are the other artistes in the film.
The movie, filmed at Kannoor, Kanjangad, Kozhikode and Changanassery is cinematographed by Sajan Kulathil.
The classic makers Lal and Sibi have earlier created superhits like Kireedom, Maayamayooram, Bharatham, Kamaladalam, His Highness Abdulla etc.
Will Mohanlal bring back his glorious success in his reunion with Sibi Malayil in Flash?
Lal's pairing opposite Parvathy in Flash will be another record for the highest paid actor of Malayalam cinema. The fifty-plus actor is playing the hero opposite an 18-year old Parvathy this time! This is the biggest ever age gap for the actor in his more than two-and-a-half decades long career.
The actor has worked on his appearance and lost weight to romance the young heroine in the thorough entertainer. The first half of the film is comedy and romance and the second half gives importance to suspense and action.
The success of the film will be a relief for the superstar Mohanlal who is going through a series of flops. Starting with Alibhai, even his latest film Rock N Roll, directed by Renjith, failed at the box office.
According to reports, success or failure will not affect the superstar's career for a couple of years because his hands are full with offers with a group of heroines.
Mohanlal earlier created news by appearing with eight heroines in his forthcoming film Casanova. Other leading directors like Sathyan Anthikkad also cast him opposite four heroines a new release. The upcoming film Kaarthika Thirunaal Kaarthikeyan will also feature him with leading heroines Parvathy Milton, Padmapriya, Namitha and Shwetha Menon. He paired with three ladies Shwetha Menon, Padmapriya and Lakshmy Gopalaswamy in Pardesi.
Kadha Parayumbol
M Mohanan, an assistant of Sathyan Anthikkad, makes his directorial debut in Kadha Parayumbol with Mammootty. He plays the role of Ashok Raj, a film superstar, scripted by Sreenivasan.
Sreenivasan is also playing a full length character in the film. Mukesh not only plays an important role in the film but also produces the film under the banner of Lumiere films.
The movie tells the story of a rare friendship between Balan (Sreenivasan), a barber in a village and a reigning superstar Ashok Raj. They are childhood friends and studied in the same school.
Balan becomes a luminary in the village because of his unusual companionship with Ashok Raj. Villagers are ready to do anything for Balan and his family. He climbs the ladder of success within no time, but Balan does not disclose his closeness to the superstar.
The arrival of Ashok Raj in Melukaavu Village for the shooting of a film becomes a trial by fire for Balan. Will the superstar recognise his childhood campanion? Will people get to know their intimacy?
Innocent appears as Ashok Raj's personal assistant cum chef in the film. Mukesh plays a parallel college teacher role. Meena is barber Balan's wife, who makes a living by selling goat's milk.
Other artistes in the comedy entertainer are Jagadeesh, Salim Kumar, Jagathy, KPAC Lalitha, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Sadiq and Mamukkoya. M Jayachandran tunes for the lyrics of Anil Panachooran and Gireesh Puthencherry.
Will Mammootty create another hit with a debutante director? He could as he has tasted success earlier with debutante directors Joemon, Blessy, Amal Neerad, Anwar Rasheed, Lal Jose etc.
Prithviraj, who is delivering hit after hit in Tamil, has repeated his success on home turf in the recently released Chocolate. His new release Kangaroo will add to his prestige to keep his star status.
Kavya Madhavan is his love interest in the film. Other artistes are Jayasoorya and Kaveri.
Prithviraj plays the role of an auto driver for the first time. In the film, he always carries a baby which he found on the street everywhere with him. Although Josekutty was born in a rich family, he is almost like an orphan and has grown up as an ordinary person.
The film, produced by Isabella Movie Tone, is directed by Raj Babu. Other cast members are Jagathy, Salim Kumar, Bindu Panicker, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Lalu Alex and Sukumari.
Whenever any south Indian superstar played an auto driver's role, the movies were superhits like Basha starring Tamil superstar Rajnikanth and Aye Auto with Mohanlal.
Another possibility of a box office victory for Kangaroo is his partnership with Jayasurya. These young actors earlier appearance in Swapnakoodu, Classmates and the recently released Chocolate were big hits. Will the auto driver role in Kangaroo take the young hero to new heights?
Superstar Dileep, who did not have a release in the last five months, is returning as a male nurse in Romeo. Like Mohanlal, Dileep also has three heroines in the film, Vimala Raman, Samvrutha Sunil and Shruthi Lekshmy. This is Dileep's first appearance with Vimala Raman.
Romeo is directed by 90s hit maker Rajasenan and is produced and scripted by the super hit team of the year Rafi-Mecartin.
Rafi-Mecartin became a successful script writing duo in Aniyan Bhava Chettan Bhava directed by Rajasenan, which released one-and-a-half decades ago. In Romeo, the duo returns as the producer with their mentor Rajasenan, who is going through a bad phase in his career.
Romeo also reunites Rajasenan and Dileep after Darling Darling. The humorous entertainer is centered on Manu (Dileep), son of a junior film artist. Manu is a male nurse in a reputed hospital. He loves music and girls. He has a special attachment with doctor Priya (Vimala Raman), who works in the same hospital.
Manu is in love with Leena (Samvrutha Sunil), the star contestant in the music reality show on television. His love for music forces him to study classical music and that makes way for a new female fan (Shruthy Lakshmy). The film tells the story of Manu's varied experiences in life with music, love and women.
Other important roles are played by Bheeman Raghu, Ashokan, TP Madhavan, Cochin Haneefa, Mallika Sukumaran and Bindu Panicker.
Alex Paul-Vayalar Sharath team handles the music department of the film and it is cinematographed by KP Nambiathiry.
Dileep's last release was July 4 and it was not a box office hit. The delay of Calcutta News directed by Blessy created a long gap for a new release in Dileep's career.
Romeo was opened in 45 centres in Kerala on Dec.14. The film is enjoying a wave of success with satirical comedy sequences.
Will Romeo continue the lead after the release of other superstar films? Will Mohanlal's Flash with Sibi Malayil bring back their earlier success? Will Mammootty's debutante director formula create box office wonder? Will Prithviraj repeat his Chocolate success in Kangaroo?
Among the last Eid Al Fitr releases Chocolate, Nasrani, Pardesi and Black Cat, the Prithviraj starrer Chocolate turned out to be the biggest box office hit. Mammootty's Nasrani is also doing well at the box office. Mohanlal's Pardesi and Suresh Gopi's Black Cat bombed at the box office.
Who will be the winner in this festival season? It remains to be seen as each film promises to be a hit.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Lucky formula

Director Sathyan Anthikkad has paired Mohanlal and Meera Jasmine again in his latest film, writes KK Moidu

Director Sathyan Anthikkad's forthcoming film, a Vishu release for April, featuring Meera Jasmine and Mohanlal, is still untitled. Sathyan always delays naming his films as he gives a lot of importance to their titles.
National Award winning actors Mohanlal and Meera Jasmine paired for the first time in superhit Rasathanthram directed by Sathyan Anthikkad. After Achuvinte Amma, Rasathanthram and Vinodhayathra, this is the fourth consecutive time Meera Jasmine is playing the heroine in Sathyan films, which no other heroine has ever done.
His latest venture will be produced by Mohanlal's trusted aide Antony Perumbavoor for Aashirwad Cinemas. Mukesh and Rahman will play pivotal roles along with prominent actresses Khushboo, Mohini and Seeta. Other Sathyan regulars like Nedumudi Venu, Innocent, Mamukoya etc. also feature.
According to reports, the movie will be cinematographed by Shaji. Like his earlier hits Vinodhayathra and Rasathanthram the director himself wrote the script for the film. His favourite Ilayaraja will score the music.
Music maestro Ilayaraja composed for his last four films Yaathrakkarude Sradhakku, Achuvinte Amma, Rasathanthram and Vinodhayathra. Most of the tracks in these films were chartbusters which played an important role in their success.
Sathyan repeatedly cast Mohanlal as the hero in the 80s and Jayaram as the male leads in his 90s films. But in the last couple of years, Sathyan changed heroes in each of his films and he makes only one film a year.
Jayaram played the male lead in Manasinakkare released in 2003. Achuvinte Amma released in 2005 was a heroine-oriented film and Sunil (Narein) was the love interest of Meera Jasmine. In last year's Rasathanthram, Mohanlal played the hero's role. The film gained attention even before the release because of the reunion of Mohanlal and Sathyan after a long interval of 12 years. Another superstar of Malayalam cinema, Dileep, played the male lead in the recently released Vinodhayathra. It was Dileep's maiden appearance in a Sathyan film.
Sathyan Anthikkad was born on Jan.3, 1954 in Anthikkad, Thrissur, Kerala. His wife is Nirmala and they have three sons Arun, Akhil and Anoop.
In his career spanning more than 25 years, Sathyan has directed about 50 films. He entered the film industry as an assistant director in Rekha Cine Arts in 1973.
He made superhit family oriented fun dramas, especially with scripts by Sreenivasan. Sathyan is also a talented lyricist and has penned around 100 film songs in Malayalam including Oru Nimisham Tharoo Ninnilaliyan, Oh Mridule, Rajani Parayu, Pranayavasantham etc. Although he was a successful lyricist, his ambition was to become a director.
In order to fulfill his dream, he became an assistant to Dr P Balakrishnan. He also worked as an assistant to director P Chandrakumar in Agni Parvatham, Adhikaaram and Aarathi.
Sathyan made his directorial debut in Kurukkante Kalyanam in 1982. His career's turning point was his successful partnership with Sreenivasan. The duo contributed memorable hits to the history of Malayalam cinema. Few of them are Nadodikkattu, Pattanapravesam, Gandhi Nagar Second Street, Varavelppu, TP Balagopalan MA etc. In all these films, Sreenivasan was a second fiddle to superstar Mohanlal.
Sathyan directed films with Mohanlal never harmed the producers. He also directed films with Malayalam superstar Mammootty but they were not box office hits except Kalikkalam.
Late actor Sukumaran played the lead in Sathyan's first three films. His hero in Veruthe Oru Pinakkam and Appunni was Nedumudi Venu. Other actors like Bala Chandra Menon and Suresh Gopi also played heroic roles.
Sathyan concentrated mainly on making family oriented films with socially relevant subjects in a humorous way. He never tried run-of-the-mill subjects and never featured vulgarity. These qualities made him a favourite of the family audience.
Sathyan made two Malayalam novels into films. Appu, starring Mohanlal, was based on VKN's novel and Irattakkuttikalude Achan, the Jayaram-Manju Warrier starrer, was based on CV Balakrishnan's novel.
Another milestone in Sathyan's career was his bold attempt for writing scripts. He kickstarted in Rasathanthram and repeated success in Vinodhayathra.
As a director, he is celebrating the silver jubilee of his career. His latest film will be a gift to his family audience who have not seen a film from the talented film-maker for a long time.


Magical journey

Veteran Indian illusionist RK Malayath aims to spread the message of global peace through his Gulf stage shows, beginning in January, reports KK Moidu

RK Malayath, who contributed immensely to popularise modern magic — is in the UAE. He will perform stage shows all over the Gulf.
His fourth visit to the UAE after a hiatus of 12 years will be noteworthy for his latest production, Mental Magic, in which he will attempt to read peoples' minds.
His earlier Gulf stage shows Mohanlal and the Magic Lamp along with Malayalam superstar Mohanlal was in 1995. Malayath, in fact, taught Mohanlal a few magic tricks for the film Manthrikam.
Malayath's long career, spanning more than four decades, has helped in giving the word "magic" a new meaning in India.
He hails from teak-rich Nilambur, also known as the "Magic capital" of Kerala. He has played an important role in separating magic from superstitious beliefs, thus saving the art.
According to him, magic has six principles; production, vanishing, transformation, transposition, mental magic and artistic gravity. With these principles, an illusionist can perform any magic trick. He can also invent new ideas for his programmes.
Malayath said that performing new tricks is not the difficult part in a show. The greatest challenge of magic is the rising cost of the equipment, accessories and costumes!
His troupe consists of more than 20 members, excluding members of his family. A stage show costs more than Indian Rs50,000 (Dhs5,000).
When asked about a fully-equipped magic show in the Gulf, he spoke on the difficulties in transporting the equipment needed for a show that weigh about three tonnes. The initial show will cost Dhs200,000 but repeat performances will cost only Dhs50,000.
Malayath's family may be the only one in India to perform professional magic. His wife Nirmala, elder son Rakin (Jr Malayath), an MBA holder, and younger son Nikin, are also practitioners of the art.
His wife Nirmala took a break from magic during her tenure as the chairperson of Nilambur Grama Panchayath (Nilambur Village Organisation).
Malayath is the only one in the country who can perform magic and hypnotism together. Others present magic and hypnotism on one stage too, but they are performed by different people.
Malayath learned hypnotism from the late AT Kovoor, well-known anti-superstition activist. Together they performed magic and hypnotism on many stages.
Malayath started a special programme Mentarama, a stage hypnotic programme in 1983. He has performed stage shows, not only in different parts of India, but also in the Gulf and other foreign countries like Japan.
He was the one who revolutionised magic by presenting 3D Magic in Thrikkarippur in Kasargode district of Kerala in 1992. It was the first performance of 3D Magic in India. He was known as the "king of magic" in Kerala in the late 70s and 80s. He always has social messages in his magic performances.
Malayath selects themes related to social issues and always gives strong exposure to the dangers of communalism, terrorism and social injustice. He is the winner of the maiden Fantasia Award, instituted in the memory of Prof. Bhagyanath, by the Indian Magic Academy.
RK Malayath was born in South Kuttoor, near Thirur, son of Thiyyadath Puthanveettil Raman Nair and Malayath Kunjikuttiyamma. He completed his schooling from Nilambur Manadevan High School. He did his pre degree from MES College Mambad and BCom degree from Sree Guruvayoorappan College, Kozhikode.
Nilambur has always had a fascination for magic and it also affected Malayath quite early in his life. His attraction for performing magic started at a very young age. How he entered the field is itself a piece of magic. A magic show failed in Nilambur and it ended up with the magician being manhandled. The audience was unsympathetic, though it was the first performance of the magician.
In order to keep peace with the audience, a stranger performed few tricks with cards and ribbons and disappeared from the stage — like another magic act. The audience was impressed by his performance. The performer was Prof. Alikhan from Manjeri.
Malayath was one among the audience who witnessed this event. He was taken in by the presence of mind of the performer. He too wanted to be like him. He went to Manjeri to fulfill his magic dreams. Malayath learned early lessons of magic from Manjeri Alikhan. Later he got an opportunity to study magic from the legendary Vazhakkunnam, famous for his skills, during his college days in Kozhikode. In order to learn more, he went to Kolkata and worked with famous magicians of West Bengal.
Although Malayath's first guru was Manjeri Alikhan, he performed his first stage show with Prof Vazhakkunnam, the "Grand Father of Kerala Magic."
After completing his education, Malayath joined the New India Assurance Company as a development officer. He was dismissed from service because of his complaint to the Indian Prime Minister for not allowing him eligible casual leave to perform a National Integrity programme.
He returned to the service because of the intervention of political and cultural frontliners like EMS, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Vaikkam Muhammed Basheer, KT Muhammed, P Govinda Pillai, VR Krishna Iyer, etc. Later, he took voluntary retirement from the company and totally concentrated on "magic with a social cause." After his marriage, Malayath's wife Nirmala also joined the troupe and together they performed on many stages.
Malayath, the founding president of the Kerala Magic Circle, links magic with art and science. As a college student, he performed magic tricks and formed the first student's federation for the performance art, namely, Magic Study Circle.
At the peak of his career, he took a break and became a bus operator. He continued his social service in the bus, named Maanava Maithri.
He painted and wrote awareness stickers on the dangers of communalism, importance of education, poverty eradication etc. on his buses. His awareness campaign was mocked by the people. Some of them laughed at him by saying that if anybody travelled on Malayath's bus, they could appear for the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) exams, since so much information was given on them!
Malayath, who turned magic into a weapon for addressing social issues, differs from other professional magicians. His rally from Kasargode to Thiruvananthapuram (North to South of Kerala) against communalism was inaugurated by no less than the literary doyen Vaikkam Muhammed Basheer.
As a magician, his productions like Road Safety Magic, AIDS Awareness, Daredevil Driving (riding a motor cycle after blindfolding his eyes with a black cloth), Freedom 50 Magic Show, Rajyaraksha Mayajal, Communal Harmony & Integration through Rail Magic from Kerala to Mumbai and Kerala to Delhi, A Photo Exhibition of Hiroshima Institute of Peace Foundation, Manvikas, Akshayajalam, Mental Health Awareness Magic, etc. are only a few among his outstanding creations.
His National Integrity programme before Parliament was inaugurated by MA Baby, Kerala education minister. Veteran Indian actor Kamal Hassan presented a golden shawl to Malayath for his efforts in raising awareness against communalism and also for presenting magic shows at 1,000 centres.
Famous short story writer and novelist Dr Punathil Kunhabdulla wrote a short story RK Malayath after being impressed by Malayath's performance. It was published in the leading Malayalam publication Malayala Manorama weekly.
In order to keep magic alive and for training the next generation, Malayath has founded Malayath Magical Entertainers in Nilambur. He is the director of the institution that gives training in magic, conjuring and illusions, hypnosis, self-hypnosis and auto-suggestion. It has facilities like a library and a stage for public performance.
But alas! Though he has made plenty of contributions to society through his magic, the government has not recognised him by honouring his talent.
It may be his failure to market himself, which is perhaps an unavoidable factor in a modest man. But nevertheless, he continues to pursue magic as a mission. He has made sure his legacy will live on, since his son Rakin is continuing his work.
We can hope that Rakin, who made his magic debut with the astonishing and difficult item "fire escape," will not be a failure in marketing, because he is an MBA graduate!

Thursday, December 6, 2007


New flower of the season

Hit film maker Lal Jose, a master in discovering new talent, is introducing Meera Nandan opposite Dileep in his forthcoming film Mulla. KK Moidu writes

Ace director Lal Jose, who created superhits like Meesa Madhavan, Chaanthupottu, Classmates and Arabikkatha, has announced his new film titled Mulla (Jasmine). The film is the Vishu release for 2008.
In the film, Lal Jose presents a new heroine, Meera Nandan from Cochin. Another newcomer, Reena Basheer, plays a pivotal role in the film. Shruthi also plays an important role.
Meera Nandan, daughter of Nandakumar and Maya, is an anchor of the popular reality show Idea Star Singer which airs on Asianet Television. She is a singer and is also doing her plus two.
In Mulla, Meera plays the role of Latchi. She is a cheerful girl and works in a bakery and an expert in decorating birthday cakes. She has other talents like painting, henna designing and is also a beautician. Train is everything in her life.
Lal Jose's greatest challenge of the film Mulla was to find a suitable heroine. He is not ready to compromise while selecting heroines for his films. He searched everywhere, but did not find a suitable face anywhere among TV presenters, models, dancers etc. Finally, Meera Nandan's name was suggested by leading Malayalam heroines Kavya Madhavan and Samvrutha Sunil, who were discovered by Lal Jose for his earlier films.
Another newcomer Reena Basheer plays Malathy Akkan's role in the film. Malathy Akkan is the wife of a gang leader in the colony. Reena, who gained popularity through Amrutha TV's Vanitha Rathnam Programme, was introduced to Lal Jose by Poornima Indrajith.
Shruthi plays the role of Vasanthi in Mulla. She is a nomadic girl, who makes a living by singing songs in the train. Shruthi, a native of Palakkad, lives in Mumbai. Her earlier important role was in Sancharam, directed by Lijy J Pullappally.
The story of Mulla takes place in a village named Karakkad, near a small railway station on the banks of the river Bharathappuzha. The film, scripted by Sinduraaj, is a complete entertainer. Vidhya Sagar and Sharath Chandra Varma pen the lyrics. The film has plenty of violence and focus on action. Other artistes of the film are Innocent, Salim Kumar, Riza Bhava, Binish Kodiyeri and Anoop Chandran.
Although Lal Jose has directed only 10 films, he is one of the most favourite in the industry. He always selects diversified subjects in films and has proved his craftsman ability. Lal Jose has the courage to cast young actors in heroic roles in a superstar dominated Malayalam film industry.
Lal Jose was born in Valappad in Thrissur and completed his education from Ottappalam. He made his entry into filmdom as an assistant director to Kamal. He assisted Kamal in superhits like Pradesika Varthakal, Champakkulam Thachan, Mazhayethum Munpe, Krishnagudiyil Oru Pranayakalathu etc.
He also worked as an assistant to other directors like Thampy Kannamthaanam, Sudheesh CS and KK Haridas in Manthrikam, Maanasam and Vadhu Doctaraanu respectively. Lal Jose was an assistant to Sreenivasan in Chinthavishtayaya Shyamala.
He made his directorial debut in the superhit Maravathoor Kanavu under the script of Sreenivasan where Mammootty played the male lead. In his second film Chandranudikkunna Dikkil, he introduced Kavya Madhavan as a heroine. He couldn't repeat his success in his third film, the Suresh Gopi-starrer Randaam Bhaavam.
Lal Jose surprised everybody with the blockbuster Meesa Madhavan scripted by Ranjan Pramod. Meesa Madhavan created history in Malayalam cinema and the film also catapulted Dileep into superstardom.
Lal Jose's Pattalam with Mammootty and Rasikan with Dileep did not perform well at the box office. But one of the heroines, Samvrutha Sunil, who made her debut in Rasikan, became a successful heroine of the South Indian film industry.
Lal Jose regained his industry status with Chaanthupottu. The film was scripted by Benny P Nayarambalam. Dileep played the lead role as Radhakrishnan — a male with feminine features — which was one of the best in his career.
In Achanurangatha Veedu, Lal Jose boldly casted comedy actor Salim Kumar as the hero. The heroine of the film was newcomer Muktha. Like other art films, Achanurangatha Veedu was a box office disaster. But the film was noticed for its theme and performances of the artists.
Lal Jose's new discovery Muktha became a leading heroine in the industry. She was lucky enough to appear in the Mammootty-starrer Nasrani in the beginning of her career. She also played the heroine opposite Vishal in the Tamil film Thamirabharani. Now, her hands are full with offers from Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam film makers.
In 2006, Lal Jose created another box office wonder with Prithviraj in the campus love story Classmates, the biggest grosser of Malayalam cinema. Although Prithviraj had a couple of hits in Tamil, his films were not doing well on home turf. After the success of Classmates, he became the heart-throb of youngsters. Prithviraj's recently released Chocolate is running in packed houses.
Lal Jose directed films not only perform well at the box office, they get noticed for one reason or the other. In his last film Arabikkatha, the female lead was Chang Shu Min, a Chinese national. This was the first time a Chinese national played a heroine role in the history of Malayalam cinema.
Lal Jose's latest film Mulla is a package of surprises. One of them is Dileep, who appears bald in a few scenes. He dazzled in the industry earlier by appearing in different kinds of roles; a henchman, blind man, joker, handicapped etc. In his short career, the director has also proved his efficiency in handling any genre with equal ease.
Cinegoers are eagerly waiting for the release of Mulla with high expectations. Will the duo repeat their earlier success in their latest venture? Can Meera Nandan gain popularity with her girl-next-door image and will she become the new flavour of the industry?

Lal Jose with Mohanlal
The meticulous director Lal Jose has succeeded in casting superstar Mammootty in his very first film Oru Maravathur Kanavu.
Now, the director is going to fulfill the long awaited dream of Malayalam film buffs by making a film with Mohanlal, another superstar of the industry.
Lal Jose's upcoming film, the Mohanlal starrer Cousin, already gained the attention of the industry. Cousin, produced by Bhagyachithra, will be scripted by Dr Iqbal Kuttippuram and will be one of the most important projects of Mohanlal and Lal Jose in 2008.
The bond of the talented and experienced director Lal Jose with an actor like Mohanlal, who can play any kind of role, definitely spells success.
The year 2007 started for Mohanlal with fabulous hits like Chhotta Mumbai and Hallo. But the actor could not repeat his success in the second half of the year. His films Alibhai, Pardesi and Hindi film Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag bombed at the box office. An item number in his recently released Rock n Roll is a chart topper, but the film faded out with youngster's favourite Chocolates.
Although Mohanlal has a lot of offers from directors like Roshan Andrews, Sathyan Anthikad, Sibi Malayil etc., he has put on hold an offer from UTV Motion pictures because of his busy schedule. By agreeing to do a Lal Jose film is in itself a big recognition for the director.

Saturday, December 1, 2007


Lure of the spotlight

Leading ladies of film industry vanish from the silver screen, especially after they tie the knot, only to make a comeback, reports KK Moidu

Madhuri Dixit Nene, Kaveri, Sari, Kiran Rathod, Mohini and Sarika are some of the erstwhile heroines returning to the film industry.
Madhuri Dixit Nene
Former Bollywood queen Madhuri, who dazzled the industry in the number one spot, is poised to make a comeback in Aaja Nachle, directed by Anil Mehta.
In the film, Madhuri plays a dancer, Diya, who returns from New York to Shamili in India, in order to save Ajantha Theatres. Diya's 'guru' (dance master) Makarand is dying and the institute where she learned dance is under the threat of demolition.
Diya joins Dr Raghubeer Yadav, the caretaker and a true art lover, to save Ajantha Theatres. In order to achieve the impossible task of putting together a theatrical production, she makes sure that every member of the production unit is from Shamili.
Diya has to prove her point within a short period of two months, otherwise the bulldozers are waiting. Can she achieve success in her venture?
Aaja Nachle is an eagerly awaited film because Madhuri plays a pivotal role in it after a hiatus of six years. Other artistes in the film are Akshaye Khanna, Konkona Sen Sharma and Kunal Kapoor. Aaja Nachle, produced by Aditya Chopra, is distributed by Yash Raj Films.
Madhuri settled in the US after her marriage with Indian-American UCLA-trained cardiovascular surgeon Dr Sriram Madhav Nene. They are blessed with two boys, Arin and Ryan.
Award winning actress Madhuri is considered an icon of Bollywood. She dominated the industry in the late 80s and 90s by playing the heroine in many superhits. Madhuri entertained the audience with her beauty, talent and her fascinating dance skills. She is a trained Kathak dancer.
Madhuri made her film debut in Abodh and performed insignificant roles in the beginning of her career. She came into the limelight after the success of Tezaab. Then, she starred in many superhit films with leading Bollywood heroes. She won the fourth Filmfare Best Actress Award for her performance in Dil To Pagal Hai in 1997. Dil, Beta and Hum Aapke Hain Kaun are the other films that fetched her the Best actress Filmfare Awards.
Madhuri won the hearts of fans with her stunning performance and dance sequences in songs like Ek Do Teen (Tezaab), Dhak Dhak (Beta), Choli Ke Peeche (Khalnayak) etc.
Her Devdas with Shah Rukh Khan and Aishwarya Rai was featured at the Cannes Film Festival and Main Madhuri Dixit Banna Chahti Hoon, a film named after her, was also released before she got married. She also topped the list of "Best Bollywood Actress Ever" on the recent Women's International Day.
Kaveri gained the Malayalam industry's attention with her innocent looks and girl-next-door image in films like Udhyanapalakan, Daadasaheb, Vasanthiyum Lakshmiyum Pinne Njanum etc. Her role as Nurse Vandana in Rajeev Anchal's Nothing But Life won her acclaim. Her male lead was played by young and popular Tamil hero Madhavan.
Kaveri left the Malayalam industry when meaty roles dried up on home turf. She achieved success in Telugu films as Kalyani acting opposite leading heroes.
After marriage, she left the industry like her seniors. Kaveri is now making a comeback in the role of Nancy in the new Malayalam film Kangaroo, directed by Raj Babu. Kaveri is not re-appearing as a heroine in the film. Prithviraj plays the male lead as an auto driver Josekutty. Kavya Madhavan and Jayasurya appears in other important roles.
Josekutty takes care of a one-and-a-half year old boy, which he found on the street. Josekutty carries the child everywhere with him, giving the full meaning to the title of the film Kangaroo.
According to reports, Kaveri has rejected earlier comeback offers and was waiting for a good role. Hope her role as Nancy in Kangaroo will shower luck on her.
Sari, who secured a place in the hearts of cinegoers by playing village belle roles, has returned to the Malayalam film industry after eight years. She is from Andhra Pradesh and was born and brought up in Chennai.
Sari made her debut in veteran late director Padmarajan's Desadanakkili Karayarilla. Mohanlal played the male lead in the film. Sari accepted the offer of Desadanakkili Karayarilla with a little hesitation, because of her lack of knowledge about Malayalam films and Padmarajan.
After the film she didn't get many offers from the industry. Padmarajan again casted her as the heroine in Namukku Parkkan Munthirithoppukal. The success of the film earned her many other heroine roles.
After her marriage to Prem, she settled in Bangalore. Sari plays an important role in her second arrival in the recently released superhit Chocolate directed by Shafi. Incidentally, her debut film was picturised in Ernamkulam and Chocolate is also filmed there.
Kiran Tandon
Punjabi girl Kiran has acted in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu films. Kiran was the love interest of superstar Mohanlal in Malayalam film Thaandavam directed by Shaji Kailas.
She made her debut in Yaadein in 2001 and continued in the industry for years. She took a year-long break and returned last year with Saawan, The Love Season and Souten The Other Woman. Kiran plays the female lead of Vikram in Tamil superhit Gemini. She is also noted for her cameo appearance in New with SJ Surya and Simran.
Kiran did not want to return to South Indian films, but after hearing the story of Vasool, she accepted the heroine role. Newcomer Hemanth Kumar is making his debut in the male lead and director Raj plays the villain.
Mohini made her film entry one-and-a-half decades ago in Tamil films. She was not successful and later changed her base to Malayalam. She gained fame by playing heroine roles in superhits Ghazal, Punjabi House, Ee Puzhayum Kadannu, Kudumba Kodathi etc. She has played the heroine of Malayalam superstars Mammootty in Sainyam and Mohanlal in Nadodi.
In her return film, Mohini plays one of the heroines in the Suresh Gopi-starrer Collector. Her character name is Sethulakshmi and she is a Corporation Mayor. Yamini Sharma and Megha are roped in from Bollywood for the other heroines roles.
Mohini made an attempt for a comeback earlier but failed due to her excess weight. This time, she appears with an all new look — slimmer and streaked hair.
Sarika was forced to stay away from the industry by falling down from a building. She made a comeback by doing a glamorous role in a Tamil film.
After divorcing her husband actor-director Kamal Hassan, Sarika returned to the film industry to prove the strength of "woman power." She succeeded by winning the best actress National Award in Parsaania. The film, based on the Godhra incident, was one of her career's best. Her male lead was Naseerudin Shah.
Sarika entered the film industry as a child artiste years ago and played boy's roles in 80s Hindi films. She gained the attention of the industry with Geeta Gata Chal. Her parents compelled her to act in films and she didn't complete her basic school education.
After her marriage to Kamal Hassan, she became a costume designer. She fetched the best costume designer award in Kamal Hassan's Hey Ram.
Silk Smitha
Soft porn actress Silk Smitha was an ultimate sex-siren of the South Indian film industry. She died on Sept.23, 1996.
Smitha's Thankathamara, filmed in 1995, had not seen the light of the day because of financial problems. Now, more than a decade after her death, it is being released in theatres.
Smitha was born in a poor family as Vijayalakshmi in Eluru in Andhra Pradesh. She has appeared in character, song-and-dance and cabaret numbers in around 200 films in different languages like Hindi, Tamil and Malayalam. She was popular becasue of her sultry and glamorous appearance.
Smitha was introduced to the film world by Thiruppathi Rajan, and as fate would have it, her last film Thankathamara was also directed by him.
Her first major role was in Vandi Chakram. She assumed the name 'Silk' after her character as a bar girl in the film.
Her dance numbers and bold performances in films like Moondru Mugam made her the ultimate symbol of sensuality.
Smitha's Malayalam film Layanam, directed by Thulasidas, earned her cult status in the adult film industry. It was remade in Hindi as Reshma Ki Jawani. She played the heroine in Sphadikam and Adharvam opposite Mohanlal and Mammootty respectively. Her most memorable film is Moondram Pirai.
Smitha's one-and-a-half decades long career brought her both fortune and misfortune. Her failed attempts to produce films cost her lots of money. She allegedly committed suicide.
Thankathamara's success or failure will not affect Silk Smitha. But for the others, success is important. After doing a few films, the roles may not be so important — being in the film industry is what matters.