Lend me a silicon mask, please!

When Mammootty and Kamal Hassan, two actors from the South have got 3 national awards each, how could Hindi cinema, the so-called Bollywood, afford not to be on par with them? Especially when they are marketing themselves as Indian cinema? (I mentioned the “southern” factor specifically because the media always highlights it to distinguish them from the rest of India, like this IBNLive article says “southern music mastero Ilaiyaraja“. A R Rahman is lucky to have been adopted by Bollywood, so he doesn’t have to bear that “Southern” label when he is mentioned in the reports).

So this time when the National Film Awards were announced, we learned that the Best Actor award went to Amitabh Bachan for “Paa” and the close competitor for the title was Mammootty for his performances in Kutty Srank, Palerimanikyam and Pazhassi Raja. And many people believe that this time, again, the award jury made an unjust decision. They say that the award should have gone to Mammootty and not to Amitabh Bachan.

If I was in the jury, I would rule out Mammootty’s role in Pazhassi Raja, because the actor did not have much to do in that film as an actor. It was the film as a whole that stole the show entirely. The film was a blend of so many amazing talents on many fronts and Mammootty was just one of them. I believe he did not have much to do in that film as an actor. I haven’t seen Kutty Sraank, so I would not comment on that. But various reviews have praised Mammootty’s acting in that film to the core. I have seen Paleri Manikyam and the way Mammootty mastered the role of Kunjahammed Haji was just amazing.

I have seen Paa too. Comparing to himself, Amitabh Bachan was awesome. Auro was perhaps the best character he has ever got in his acting career. So I would rate him coming to a close second in the competition but not above Mammootty’s Haji in the race for the best actor.

For one thing, like most of the sentimental, teary-eyed Indian movies, Paa lacked the cinematic maturity of treating a subject like this. It purely banked upon the melodramatic overtones and it’s father-son “star” cast. Bachan’s make-up did not even let you see his face, leave alone the facial expression. Many people argue that his body language was perfect for the character, and I would agree with that, but the body mannerisms alone should not have brought him that award. Mammooty had different mannerisms in Paleri Manikyam too. He had to put on different facial expressions, body mannerisms and even different dialects to work with in that film and he had succeeded in all that. I hear that in Kutty Sraank also he had the same or bigger challenges.

This is not the first time that the national award jury snubbed the Malayali actors for Amitabh Bachan. When Bachan got an award for playing typical Bachan in Agneepath, the person who left out was one of the best actors ever happened to Malayalam cinema – Thilakan – for an unforgettable role he portrayed in the script of MT – Perumthachan. And now, Mammootty.

I don’t understand the criteria put forward by the jury. Is this a sign that such award juries have not come of age? If an actor does a sympathetic character with lots of scope for raining tear drops and an imported make-up man, would that be enough to actually get him an award?

Thilakan and “The Gangs of New Kerala”

What goes on in the Malayalam movie industry these days make the movie lovers quite sad. The current state of the Malayalam movies is quite pathetic. We have only a couple of hits each year and rest of them bombs in the box office. The state of the cinema theaters is also pathetic that one wouldn’t take the pain of going to a theater to watch a movie and would rather watch it at his own home. With the arrival of big LCD screens, Dolby home theater sound systems and DVD/Blue-Ray discs, watching a movie at home is much much more comfortable than watching it in a theater. As a result, many theaters are closing down rapidly.

But who cares? There is absolutely no effective discussions going on about a rescue plan. The people in the industry are busy making crappy movies and the competition is so high in this field that we get crappy, crappier and crappiest movies – one after one. Then there are these organizations (AMMA, MACTA, FEFKA and all those funny names) which functions like gangs and we see their gang wars quite often. And it is cinema that dies in this war.

The whole incident of Thilakan being an outcast from Malayalam cinema has proved that there is no hope for any improvement in the near future. Thilakan had accused AMMA (Association of Malayalam Movie Artists) of not allowing him to work in the movies and he pointed fingers at the superstars (Mammootty and Mohan Lal) in particular. What followed was a series of cheap stunts.

Director B Unnikrishnan, general secretary of Film Employees Federation of Kerala (FEFKA), said that the actor in Thilakan has died. But Thilakan has some great performing moments of Malayalam cinema (or rather Indian or world cinema) to his credit and we all know what kind of movies B Unnikrishnan has directed. Unnikrishnan also said that he would resign from his general secretary position if Thilakan could prove that FEFKA banned Thilakan from acting in films. Incidentally, the same FEFKA has threatened to pull out all technicians from the movie “Dam 999” if Thilakan was cast and the producers threw Thilakan out of the project. And as far as we know B Unnikrishnan still holds on to his position.

The above incident proves that there is some truth in what Thilakan says. He also lashed out at the Super Star fans and I whole heartedly agree with him on the fan-hood. The fan associations work like thugs, threatening people if they boo in cinema halls (and they themselves send booing teams when their enemy star’s cinema is released) and they also threaten people who leave after intervals when they are fed up of watching crap movies, and now the fans of Mohan Lal and Mammootty have united against Thilakan. Kerala now see that the rivals joining hands to fight a lone, old man.

Thilakan undeniably is a great actor. The truth is that if there is Thilakan acting in a super-star movie, he outshines the super stars with his acting prowess; however small his role is in the movie. So there are good reasons to believe what Thilakan says about the popularity-hungry, fan-fed Superstars working on denying him chances. Take a couple of superstar movies for example. “Kireedam“, an award winning movie where Mohan Lal and Thilakan played father and son, had both Mohan Lal and Thilakan in an equal performance and for the movie lovers, it was a treat (remember the scene where Thilakan says “kathi thaazheyideraa…“?). Or take Mohan Lal’s commercial hit “Sphadikam“. Thilakan’s Chacko maash was the most powerful character in that movie than Mohan Lal’s Aadu Thoma. Or take Mammootty’s “Kauravar“. It was an outright Thilakan movie, though Mammootty was in the lead role. Or take movies like “Perumthachan“, “Moonnaam Pakkam” etc. I can draw a lot more examples.

But he had very little support from industry, probably because nobody wants to question the “kings” and destroy their own career. Sukumar Azheekode came in support of Thilakan but he only added more garbage to the already stinking mess. Thilakan had claimed that he is a staunch Communist, but the party kept mum on the whole matter. It is understandable particularly when Mammootty is the chairman of party-owned Kairali TV. So the party did not back the ‘lesser Communist’ when they have ‘elite Communists’ in their fold. But renowned director Shaji N Karun came in support of Thilakan. He said, “The organizations have nothing to lose if they ban Thilakan. But the it is the cinema viewers who are going to lose.” He is so right. It is not AMMA, FEFKA or any other organization who is going to lose, but us, the Malayalam movie viewers. And the members of these organizations are busy looting our money and give us crappy movies.

Yamuna Veruthe from Ore Kadal

It has been a very long time (almost 2 months) since I have sung or recorded anything. The change in the climate did not go well with me and the sinusitis took this chance to attack me all over. I had no choice but to keep quiet. This week seemed to be better and I couldn’t wait any longer. 🙂 Today after coming back from work, I recorded one of my favorite songs from the recent times – Yamuna Veruthe – again. Everything about this song is so beautiful – the lyrics, the music and the wonderful renditions by music director Ouseppachan himself and the Shreya Goshal of Malayalam, Swetha Mohan. 🙂

I had posted an unplugged version of this song earlier. You can check it out at my music blog. Also thanks a lot to Rosh for sharing the karaoke track. This song is also my first music post in the new year. Hoping to get back to my song posts here onwards. 🙂

Movie: Ore Kadal
Lyrics: Gireesh Puthenchery
Music: Ouseppachan
Original singer: Ouseppachan
Sung by: Joseph Thomas (Jo)
Requested by / Dedicated to: Rosh

Download the MP3 of this song

Yamuna Veruthe (with karaoke track) | Music Codes

Looking Back to 2008: Mammootty & Mohan Lal

[Today’s is a guest post by K K Moidu].
A look at the career graph of Mammootty and Mohanlal and their dominance at the box office. At the end of 2008, front line Malayalam superstars Mammootty and Mohanlal had reason to be happy — they remained in the top slot. Their box office successes with super hit films and success guaranteed projects in their hands show their strong presence in the industry.


He started 2008 with the hit film Roudram by playing a cop for the 25th time in his career. His double role in Anwar Rasheed’s superhit Annan Thampi was one of the biggest superhits of the year. Other films of Mammootty like Parunthu and Maya Bazaar didn’t do well at the box office. But the actor, who started the year by playing a cop ended it by shining in a lawyer’s role in the magnum opus Twenty 20.

Compared to the seven releases in 2007, Mammootty had only five films last year including Twenty 20. In 2007 the actor had two offbeat films like Ore Kadal and Kaiyoppu, which has screened in various film festivals and won few awards. But this year the actor didn’t have an art film.

The biggest achievement of the actor last year is not the released films, but his completed projects like Pazhassi Raja and Kuttishranku. The epic movie Pazhassi Raja, made on a big budget, reunites the literary genius MT Vasudevan Nair and Mammootty. The film, directed by Hariharan, also stars senior Tamil hero Sarath Kumar and veteran Ilayaraja scores music. Like Pazhassi Raja, Mammootty is playing a rare role in Kuttishranku directed by National Award winning director Shaji N Karun. Both the movies have a chance of benefiting him by winning accolades at the national and international levels.

Mammootty has already completed the shooting of few commercial entertainers and the first release of 2009 will be Love in Bangkok directed by Rafi-Mecartin. Telugu heroine Navneet Kaur is making her Malayalam debut as his love interest. His bilingual film Vandemataram titled in Tamil as Aruvadai has only few scenes left for completion. Tamil action hero Arjun plays an important role in the film. Mammootty romances Sneha and their pairing in Thuruppugulan was a hit at the box office.

According to reports, three times national award winners Mammootty and Kamal Hassan are expected to team up in a forthcoming film in different South Indian languages. The film will be a remake of Bollywood offbeat hit A Wednesday. If Kamal succeeds in buying the rights of the Hindi movie, he himself will act in the role of Naseerudheen Shah and Mammootty will once again fit the cops cap as a police officer, which was enacted by Anupam Kher in the original.

Mammootty will play the lead in director Jayaraj’s forthcoming film scripted by Renjith. The ace director’s earlier movie Johny Walker with Mammootty in the lead, released one-and-a-half decades earlier, was also scripted by Renjith. In the forthcoming film Thaappana, which means an elephant used to train wild elephants, Mammootty plays the proud owner of a famous elephant. The film will be the next directorial venture of Akku Akbar, after his runaway hit Veruthe Oru Bharya. It will also feature the elephant owned by actor Jayaram featured earlier in Rappakal.

Continue reading Looking Back to 2008: Mammootty & Mohan Lal

Mammootty, the blogger

The latest to join the celebrity bloggers from India is Malayalam actor and 3 time national award winner Mammootty. He has started blogging from today onwards and he blogs in Malayalam. His first post is titled “Sampad Vyavasthayude Raashtreeyam” which could be roughly translated to “The politics of economics”. With the rumors of Mammootty going to contest in the next general elections with support of the Communist party, his blog would make an interesting read.