RNI NO.: APENG/2009/29389 REGISTERED NO.: L II/RNP/HD/1118/2010-12 JULY ‘10
INDIA> RS. 50 UAE> AED. 10
ARCHANA KAVI: Poetry in emotion NADIYA replaces KHUSHBOO
Home bound Mamta Mohandas
BHARATH in pursuit of perfection VIVEK’S funny moments PRABHU & NAYAN living it up!
SATHYAN ANTHIKKAD magic on screen
ADVT - VOLKS WAGON
CENTRE STAGE/PAGE Go bring your fork and knife, folks. We are giving you Vikram on a platter!
24 On the cover: Vikram Photographer: G Venket Ram Stylist & Costumes: Vivek Karunakaran
28 20 26
CONTENTS/07/10 EXCLUSIVES 16 Mamta Mohandas’s Malayalam
20 Step aside for the hip and happening
22 Vijay is calling the shots 24 Nadiya on replacing Khushboo and
making a comeback to cinema
26 Vivek tickles our funny bone 28 Refresh the mood with Archana Kavi
30 What Sathyan Anthikad does before
32 What are Nayanthara and
Prabhu Deva doing behind closed doors?
44 Ravi Chandran’s film stock!
FEATURES 18 Reviewing women in Malayalam cinema 42 Poster mania never dies in Tamil cinema
2008 9001 - IED TIF
Emerge as a Professional JN TU Lead the World HE AM CE T
St. MARTIN'S ENGINEERING COLLEGE Affiliated to JNTUH, Approved by AICTE NBA Accredited, ISO 9001:2008 - JKC A non minority institute
/ IC ET COD E: M R
Doolapally, Near Kompally Secunderabad - 500 014. A.P. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.smec.ac.in
TM OU MBA IC ET CODE : MR
Ph: 040- 65344227, 8008128129
About the Institution: St. Martin’s Engineering College (SMEC) is sponsored by St. Martin’s Children’s Educational Society (SMCES), which was established in 1982. The society aspires to provide the best of opportunities and facilities to its students. The vision has taken the shape of SMEC. The college is established in a campus of 14 acres of land in 5 spacious buildings of over 2.5 lakh sft. built-up area, as per AICTE norms. Sri M. Laxman Reddy Chairman
Location: The College is located at Doolapally, Qutubullapur, Ranga Reddy District (15 Kms from Secunderabad Railway Station and 1 Km from Kompally) and strategically located in the proximity of satyam Technology park, Apparel Park and allied Industries.
Sri G. Durgaiah Yadav Vice - Chairman
Academic Experts: Academic leadership for over 150 Experienced, Dynamic, young and academically sound faculty is provided by veteran professors experience and research guidance at IISc, IITs, ANNAMALAI, OU, JNTU, NAL, ISRO, ADA, BHEL etc., and also veteran technologists who have served as Principals and Directors of Research in reputed centers likes VSSC. Library: Central Library with Digital library and over 52 International, 102 National Journals and about 50,000 volume of books besides 2000 E-journals available in the college. Library having membership with British Library & DELNET. Sri G. Narasimha Yadav Sri Ch. Malla Reddy Treasurer Secretary & Correspondent Transport Facility: A Fleet of about 20 buses is provided to students to commute from home comfortably from various corners of the city. Sports & Games: Students provided with both Indoor and Outdoor games. Since our Chairman himself is a veteran athlete and achieved lot of medals in sports he encourages students a lot towards sports. Recently college got gold medal in Throw ball and Basket Ball. Laboratories: There are fully equipped latest technology laboratories available in our college. Branch wise no. of laboratories are as mentioned below: CSE - 10, ECE- 10, EEE- 06, S & H- 10, Bio-Tech - 08, Civil-03, Mech- 02 Placements: In spite of Recession in India and abroad, our college has done remarkably well in placing students in various prominent companies like Infosys, TCS, Infotech, Accenture, Zen Technologies, HCL Technologies, Wipro, IBM, Cognizant, Oasis Software Solutions, Dell, L& T Info Tech etc.
COURSES OFFERED Bio-Tech - 60 Civil - 60 CSE - 120 ECE - 120 EEE - 60 IT - 60 Mech. - 60 MBA - 60 MCA - 60 MBA (Osmania) - 60
PROPOSED COURSES - M.Tech: Department
C.S.E E.C.E E.E.E
: : :
C.S.E, Soft. Engg. D.E.C.S, Emb.Sys. Power Electronics Electrical Power Engg. Bio-Technology
Admissions through EAMCET, ECET, ICET and Management Quota.
CONTENTS/07/10 FUNDA 9
Trivia on cinema
10 Gold Class
Jolly Kolly / Simbly Malayalee
14 Loading...Please Wait Films in the making
What happened when and where
56 Mumbai Matinee Bollywood brouhaha
58 Wild West
60 Flash Back
Rewind to Mouna Raagam
61 Sing along Karaoke
62 Screen test
Launch pad for aspiring actors
28 MUMBAI EXPRESS 46 Ravi Kishan comes down south
63 Leaves out of my book
Suhasini Maniratnam’s take
48 Sarah Thompson’s India experience 50 Prakash Jha gets politically incorrect 52 Mistress of crises
It was a time when Sivaji Ganesan was working in Arignar Anna’s printing press for a livelihood. Known simply as V C Ganesan then, he also moonlighted as a struggling actor. Starting out in veteran actor M R Radha’s drama company, he had already shuttled from one place to another in search of a permanent position. Thus far, he was unable to crack a deal. It was around this time that Arignar Anna - politician and playwright - was scouting for a young man to play the part of Chatrapathi Sivaji in his landmark play, Sivaji Kanda Indu Samrajyam. The play was full of rousing speeches and fiery dialogues. While talent scouts yielded little results, the production was in a quandary. Right then, Anna noticed Ganesan, going about his work in the press. Ganesan was quite skinny back then, so his frail build raised a few doubts. Nevertheless, Anna instructed him to memorise a few pages of the script and left for the day. When he returned that night and asked Ganesan for a reading, the young men dazzled his audience with a complete rendition of the play, memorised within the short space of a few hours! He landed the part instantly with his heartfelt performance as Chatrapathi Sivaji. The play became a huge success, and Ganesan henceforth came to be known as Sivaji Ganesan.
Legendary comedian Manorama is well known for her spitfire performances. She was famous for being able to turn the dullest of situations around into rip-roaring comedy. One such situation was the pseudo-serious confrontation between her character, Kannamma and Kishmu’s character, Albert Fernandez. The sequence was being shot for Visu’s eternal classic, Samsaram Adhu Minsaram. The scene involved Kannamma, Albert and the character of Albert’s daughter-in-law, who was estranged from her husband. They conspire to get the warring couple back on track through a mock-serious argument. Manorama delivered a marvellous performance and soon, the scene attained legendary status among fans. Much later, a public-service commercial was filmed, which commemorated the scene. Manorama’s dialogue was delivered to the actor herself by a physically challenged girl, to much acclaim.
MAL Noted Malayali novelist Malayattoor Ramakrishnan (Malayattoor) and Vayalar Rama Varma (Vayalar), renowned poet and lyricist were contemporaries. Whenever Malayattoor spoke about Vayalar, he would recall countless memories on his association with the famed lyricist. The two would keep chatting well into the wee hours of the night. Inevitably enough, by the time it was morning, Vayalar would have kept the lyrics of a new song on the table. Vayalar wrote the smashing hit song, Aayiram padasarangal kilungi Aluva puzha pinneyumozhuki in the presence of Malayattoor. When Vayalar finished the song, Periyare Periyare parvathanirayude panineere, Malayattoor insisted that Vayalar should include the word ‘Malayattoor’ in the song. And it’s how the mention of Malayattoor church came to feature in the song.
The film Swami Ayyappan, which proved to be a big hit, was also instrumental in paving the way for the Swami Ayyappan Road in Sabarimala. As the story goes, music director S Kumar was once climbing the steep hill to oversee works at the Sannidhanam. He could not climb all the way to the top due to the scorching heat. He wondered how pilgrims, especially the elderly could climb the hill. It was then that the crew decided to have a road constructed, flanked by avenue trees. While the Devaswam Board was not very keen on the project, the road finally got approval thanks to the efforts of P Subramanian.
JULY’10 SOUTHSCOPE 9
TRISHA ON SONG Ever the busybody, Trisha was spotted in Europe shooting with Kamal Haasan and Madhavan for her new film. Shot in a number of exotic locales, the soundtrack for the film is said to feature Trish singing along with a bunch of kids and Kamal Haasan. The recording, which took place in Chennai was arranged by Devi Sri Prasad. Buzz goes that Trisha herself is likely to dub for the film. What next, we wonder.
HOW MADHAVAN CELEBRATED HIS 40TH BIRTHDAY Guess what, Madhavan turned a full forty recently. The buzz goes that he skipped shooting for two days and took his family to a resort near Pune. There they had a blast, family style as they played golf and chilled out through the day. Madhavan played the perfect host to a close bunch of buddies from school and college in the evening. Talk about ringing in midlife in style!
NAYAN’S FOOD FIX We think Nayanthara has truly started to believe or has perhaps experienced first hand that the way to a man’s heart is indeed through his stomach. Ok, sometimes! Ever since her schedule got delayed, Nayan’s been shopping for cookery books, even as she was chilling at home. Apparently, she is trying out several new recipes so that she can treat Prabhu Deva to a self made romantic dinner once he is back from Paris. That gives us some food for thought, hmm.
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Suriya and Dhanush have turned dads! Both the stars were over the moon as their respective wives Jyothika and Aishwarya gave birth to baby boys on June 7 and 21 respectively. Suriya’s elder daughter Diya and Dhanush’s son Yatra are three years old, and this was indeed the right time to bring in another bundle of joy, for both. Here’s a huge congratulations to both couples!
PRAYERS FOR SHRIYA
FATHER’S DAY INDEED!
Shriya Saran has an old habit of praying at the Tirupati temple every month. Recently, she flew down from Mumbai to Chennai with her mom and drove down to Tirupati for an early morning Suprabhatam darshan. For the actor, this was a thanksgiving of sorts as her first Malayalam film with Mammootty and Prithviraj, Pokkiri Raja turned out to be a blockbuster. She says her praying ritual gives her inner peace and loads of confidence.
NAMITHA’S LIVING IT UP When it comes to living it up and spending big bucks, not too many can compete with Namitha. She spends pursefuls on designer shoes, bags, clothes and jewellery, the works. Namitha also gifted herself a 54 carat emerald ring as a birthday present. The antique piece is said to be worth a bomb. What’s more, it’s also giving her ideas. She is considering jewellery designing and even wants to open a store in a new property that she brought in the suburbs of Mumbai. We are waiting for more confessions of the shopoholic!
BODYLICIOUS TAMANNAAH! Tamannaah, just back from a long vacation in the US, is looking super fit. She has taken up gymming like crazy. In fact, she is so addicted to her regime that even after shooting for 12 hours, she is still raring to hit the gym for a workout every day. Now that has done some real ooh-ah things to her figure! JULY’10 SOUTHSCOPE 11
SURESH GOPI’S HISTORY OF VIOLENCE Suresh Gopi has ignited vandalism in Kerala! And no, it’s not his fault, really. At a theatre in Kottayam, an excited bunch of young men disrupted the screening of his recent release, Ring Tone. They ripped the seats and threw beer bottles on a display window of an adjoining theatre in the same compound. Four youngsters who were arrested for damaging in the premises were found in an inebriated condition. They told the police that they apparently could not bear to sit through the film. The theatre owners have sued the men on charges of destruction of property. Gopi’s performance has a devastating effect on his audience!
RANJITH’S ON A ROLL Fresh after wrapping up Kerala Café, writer-director Ranjith is now trying his hands at different kinds of filmmaking. While Kerala Café was an amalgamation of ten stories by ten directors, the new project will chart the lives of four women played by Revathy, Shwetha Menon, Vishnupriya and KPAC Lalitha. Penn Pattanam will follow their story as they work in a sewage disposal unit. The film is set to feature all the bells and whistles of commercial cinema, with humour, sentiments and some action along the way.
A QUIET BIRTHDAY FOR MOHANLAL Mohanlal brought in his fiftieth birthday quietly with only family and a few close friends for company. He preferred to keep his birthday a private affair. Even though scores of fans in Kerala and other parts of the world wanted him to have a blast on his half century, the actor did not relent, preferring to keep it a closed affair. Needless to say, fans were left a touch disappointed!
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MAMMOOTTY’S GRAND RECEPTION Megastar Mammootty was in for a surprise when he landed up in Bengaluru recently where he has been shooting for his Kannada debut. He was greeted with a sandalwood garland and the traditional Mysore crown by unit members. Mammootty has been roped in to play the lead role in Shikari, directed by young director Abhayasimha. Quite a grand welcome, huh?
SANDHYA GIVES THE SLIP After a slow run, Sandhya has joined the lot of Tamil actors seeking work in Malayalam films. She is currently shooting for College Days with Indrajeet. Sandhya has also signed up for another film with Suresh Gopi, who plays an investigative police officer. While Tamil actors are known to move to Kerala only when their careers take a nosedive, Sandhya remains optimistic. She was recently heard saying that she takes up projects only when the script is engaging. Maybe that’s the truth. Maybe?
LAL JOSE’S NEW FACE Director Lal Jose is known for bringing in a bunch of big names in the film business. Over the years, he’s introduced the likes of Kavya Madhavan, Jyothirmayi, Samvrutha Sunil, Tessa, Muktha, Meera Nandan and Archana Kavi to cinema. By the looks of it, Jose might bring in another new face. Ann, who is character actor Augustine’s daughter, will be seen playing the part of a boy in Jose’s new film, Elsamma Enna Aankutty. What do we say? Oh boy? JULY’10 SOUTHSCOPE 13
TAMIL LOADING...PLEASE WAIT
SEEDAN CAST> Dhanush, Krishna, Ananya, K Bhagyaraj, Suhasini DIRECTOR> Subramaniyam Siva MUSIC> Dhina PRODUCER> R Mohan Banner
Dhanush is all set to turn into Lord Muruga in Seedan! This family entertainer is a remake of the award winning Malayalam super hit Nandanam. In the Tamil version, a new entrant is roped to do the lead role along with Ananya of Nadodigal fame. Dhanush will play a devotee of Lord Muruga and this forms the twist in the tale. Writer Viji has re-written the script making it more suitable for the Tamil Nadu audience.
ANANTHAPURATHU VEEDU CAST> Nandaa, Chaya Singh and Master Aryan DIRECTOR> Shankar MUSIC> Ramesh Krishna BANNER>S Pictures
The banner, S Pictures is back with a supernatural film Ananthapurathu Veedu. It is set in Nagercoil and revolves around an ancestral property, where a child encounters ghosts. Though it is a supernatural story, director Naga says the film doesnâ€™t fall in the horror genre. Instead, it is more about relationships and family bonding. Director Naga is said to have conducted an acting workshop for all the artistes before he commenced the shoot.
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ELECTRA CAST> Nayanthara, Prakash Raj, Manisha Koirala, Skanda, Biju Menon DIRECTOR> Shyamaprasad MUSIC> Alphonse PRODUCER> Vindhyan BANNER> Rasika Entertainment
Noted art house director Shyamaprasadâ€™s Electra is a contemporary adaptation of a classic Greek play, which focuses on the unusual complexities of a father-daughter relationship. Nayanthara is playing the title role of Electra Alexander along with Prakash Raj and Manisha Koirala playing Issac Alexander and Diane, her parents. The film is set in the high ranges and it narrates the story of a planter and his bored wife who has an affair with a much younger man. Their children Electra and Edwin complete the dysfunctional family, replete with inner politics and tensions.
CHEKAVAR CAST> Indrajeet, Kalabhavan Mani, Samvrutha Sunil, Sarayu, Jagathy Sreekumar, Janardhanan, Suraj Venjarammood DIRECTOR> Sajeevan MUSIC> Rahul Raj BANNER>Pentagon Creations
Chekavar revolves around the lives of a cop and a reformed don. Indrajeet plays Kasinathan, an honest sub inspector for whom things change drastically when criminals wreck havoc in his life. Kalabhavan Mani plays Garudan Raghavan, a wealthy don who is reformed. Both end up risking their lives for their families and that is the significance of the title. As we have read in many stories, Chekavars are brave hearts, ready to die for others.
JULYâ€™10 SOUTHSCOPE 15
MALAYALAM // EXCLUSIVE
Photographer: G Venket Ram
HOME IS WHERE A GOOD FILM IS! Back in Malayalam after a longish time, it’s turning out to be a case of when in Rome… for Mamta Mohandas, finds Vijay G. After she was missing in action for some time in Malayalam films, Mamta’s back with a bunch of promising films including Kadha Thudarunnu, Anwar and Nirakkazhcha.
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You seem to have shifted your attention back to Malayalam of late… Yeah. From the point that Passenger happened, I had this gut feeling that the right movies were coming my way. I think it’s all about sifting through a bunch of offers and choosing the right ones, regardless of the language. What was it like being offered the role in Satyan Anthikkad’s Kadha Thudarunnu? It’s a heroine oriented Satyan Anthikkad film and I am sure any actor would not think twice before taking it up. I wanted to work with a director like him, so I jumped at the offer. Is it true you play the mother of a three year old in the film? Kadha Thudarunnu is the story of Vidya Lakshmi, who comes across every possible obstacle in her life. But she battles on with optimism, though things seem pretty bleak for her. She is a single mother who is a patient and caring woman. The film shows a rather long span in her life and playing the role was an enriching experience. Some heroines might have issues with playing a mother on screen, but not me. Tell us about Anwar in which you are going to be paired with Prithviraj. I can’t let out much right now. I know that we are trying to highlight both sides of an issue. Anwar is a movie with a positive message, anchored on a strongly crafted love story. What is Nirakkazhcha all about? The story is about an Italian painter who arrives in Kerala to learn about Raja Ravi Varma’s paintings. He then decides to recreate one of the master’s originals. He meets a village girl who will be his model and is eventually attracted to her. But she is committed to another man. Eventually, their lives and love intertwine and echo the life of the great master, and the story moves forward from there. While Passenger received considerable acclaim, how come you did not consider devoting more time in Malayalam after that? Passenger, followed by Daddy Mummy… was quite a sensation. I had signed up for Aagathan, but couldn’t do it because of my health problems. There were also certain other projects which have been offered to me like Angel John, Khilafat, Raghupathi Raghava Rajaram and Thanthonni for instance, which I couldn’t accept due to various reasons. Which language films do you like working in the best? I am looking forward to doing good quality work. As an artiste I wish Malayalam films had the reach of a Tamil or Telugu film, to give me a national or even international audience. I think films like Anwar will be watched by people from the other industries as well. That is how I hope to reach out to audiences beyond home.
How do you plan to balance your career as an actor and singer? I am serious about both careers. I want to continue being an actor and a singer. Of course, luck plays a big factor here. I won’t say Daddy Mummy… is my best song, but the response to the song, especially in Kerala has been fabulous. You may say that now I am being taken seriously as a singer as well! I had offers to sing for Puthiya Mugham and Aagathan, but I wanted to begin singing for a film in which I was acting too. Now I have recorded a song for Anwar. Tell us more about your biking and racing obsession. (Smiles) Yeah, I like racing and in my childhood, I always wanted to be a pilot. But my parents were never keen on that. My friends had bikes in college and I soon learnt to ride geared bikes. I had a bike while I was in college, but I gave it up later on. Now it is cars for me. But I have plans to buy a racing bike at some point. I have this fantasy to ride a powerful bike on screen and I hope such I will be given such roles. I do follow Formula 1 and watched the Bahrain Grand Prix last year. I’ve also met racers like Jarno Trulli and Juan Pablo Montoya. Do you feel that since you focused on three different languages, it affected your career? In fact, I feel that I should have waited for a better movie after my Malayalam debut, Mayookham. Though I did six films soon after, only Madhuchandralekha and Big B helped, but I have no regrets about the way my career has shaped up. Do you regret doing Lanka? Perhaps at that point of my career it came in as a wrong decision. But I don’t regret doing Lanka. Now if I look at it, the strong character in Yamadonga came to me only because the director Rajamouli happened to watch the dubbed version of Lanka in Tamil. He felt that I would be able to do that complex role. I wouldn’t say that doing Lanka was a mistake. Do you think that the glamorous tag after Lanka turned out to be a deterrent factor for you in Malayalam? The role in Lanka demanded its due share of glam, but by then the damage was done for me in the Malayalam industry. That’s probably the reason why a director like Satyan Anthikkad did not approach me at that point. But then there are actors who have done glamorous roles outside while playing homey characters in Malayalam films. Nobody has questioned it, either because it’s a question of popularity or perhaps due to a sense of acceptance, which they have developed. You’ve had your own share of gossips and controversies, right from the early days of your career. How much did it affect you on a personal level? Initially, I was not prepared for all that and I couldn’t take it for what is was - a part of
JULY’10 SOUTHSCOPE 17
the game. The way Lanka was publicised and the rumours that were spreading were quite disturbing. It even reached a point where I had contemplated giving up on films. It did affect me in a huge way. But by then I had already committed to a couple of projects. That kept me going. Soon I realised that moviemaking has its own ups and downs and that you have to keep moving on. Now things are different and they don’t talk, because I don’t care. Has there been any recent film that made you sit up and think you wanted to be in it? There are two roles that come to my mind and incidentally both were done by Priyanka Chopra. The first one is her role in Madhur Bhandrakar’s Fashion and the other is in Vishal Bharadwaj’s Kaminey. Were there talks about you getting offers from Bollywood? There have been some offers and some discussions, but nothing has materialised as of yet. There was this offer to be part of Farah khan’s Happy New Year, but then it’s a multi-starrer and I may get lost among the known faces and the new ones. Finally, what do you think comes to the mind of Malayalis when they hear your name? Oh, I know that. The song Daddy mummy… and then, Lanka (laughs). I am not too comfortable with either and hope that after Kadha Thudarunnu hits the screens, things will be different and I will be known for my role in this film!
BOOK NOTE //
WOMEN IN MALAYALAM CINEMA Naturalising Gender Hierarchies (2010) (Hardcover) / Publisher: Orient BlackSwan / Pages: 252 / Price: Rs 595
and enthusiasts alike. The book is edited by Meena T Pillai, who is a Reader at the Institute of English, Kerala. The book brings together a selection of essays and writings by a number of scholars and professionals in the field and is touted to be the first of its kind on the subject of films coming out of Kerala. In the introductory chapter, Pllai gently lays out her argument that despite considerable social upheaval in the state, the progressive representation of women still takes a backseat in films and other popular media. The other pieces in the book tackle myriad issues that span from the gender equation in films in Kerala, the issue of feminine roles, marriage and family in films all the way to issues like rape and the pornographic upheaval in Malayalam cinema in the early part of the decade.
t a glance, this serious sounding book may put you off with the heavy set title. Women in Malayalam Cinema: Naturalising Gender Hierarchies is a serious name indeed. Aimed primarily at scholars, the collection of essays on the subject of representing women in Malayalam films can nevertheless be picked up and read by cinephiles
Pillai stated in an interview that the book according to her covers the issue of women in Malayalam films from the evolution of her role in a film, women’s bonding and the phenomenon of replacing multiple heroes for the erstwhile macho superstar, as seen in films like In Harihar Nagar. Pillai insists that the screen identity of the Malayali woman is subtly distinct from the pan-Indian screen woman a la Mother India, and explains how social and cultural forces contribute to the distinct identity. Between two covers, the book deals with films ranging from Vigathakumaran (1928), Sthree (1950) to Achanarangathaveedu (2005). In the process, it examines the portrayal of women as token characters in essentially a male dominated social milieu. While the book is daunting for the casual reader, Women in Malayalam Cinema is a valuable resource for scholars, film history enthusiasts and hardcore film fans who want to take an intelligent look behind the idea of women in the screens and sets across God’s own country. - Rahul Ganguly
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TAMIL // EXCLUSIVE
Photographer: K L Raja Ponsing Make-up: Velmurugan Hair: Shibu Thomas Styling: Vira Shah, Costumes Courtesy: Gabbana Life, Fashion Folks, Espirit, Grapevine Co-ordinated by: Sridevi Sreedhar
HEY MUSCULAR, HEY POPULAR. SPECTACULAR, HE’S A BACHELOR! AND BHARATH CAN ALSO DANCE SAALA! FOR NOW THOUGH, HE CHARMS KARUNA AMARNATH JUST LIKE HIS TAMIL ONSCREEN PERSONA…
FITNESS MANTRA I work out six days a week and it’s not just for films or photo shoots. I am not interested in sporting a six-pack either. I am just a health, or shall we say, gym freak and want to stay fit and trim so that I can fit into an‘s’ size! My breakfast comprises four eggs and a bowl of oats. For lunch, I have some chapathi and tandoori chicken. Dinner is boiled veggies, chicken and chapathi again. If I feel like it, I eat some rice as well. Across the rest of the day, I have loads of fluid like juices, coconut water, etc. But, mind you, I am a big foodie. So, when I am travelling, I eat everything and just ensure I work out more.”
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But, why wouldn’t he be popular? After an excellent start to his acting career in Tamil films, courtesy Boys, he followed it up with another hit, 4 The People in Malayalam. Before he knew it, stardom was at his doorstep! But, Bharath isn’t content just yet. “I need to get more female fan following,” he grins. “I don’t think I have been as appealing to women as I can be. The ‘rural boy’ image that I’ve got in films like in Kadhal, Pattiyal and Veyil might not exactly be your fantasy man.” While all three films gave him critical acclaim and brought him immense recognition as an actor with talent, luckily they were followed up with Nepali and Kandein Kadhalai, a remake of the Hindi film, Jab We Met, both of which were more upbeat and youthful. It not only appealed to the young movie goers, but also broke the strong image he was being bracketed into. “I need to do more films like that. You know, women like to see actors in good looking songs, smart clothes,” he smiles, and quickly adds, “and of course, a good script is the most important. Something like a trend that Suriya sir has created.” Yuvan Yuvathil, his next film, could do just that. Giving us a sneak peek into it, Bharath tells us that this musical love story will not only see him sporting a cool ‘urban’ look, but also show off his dancing skills. And that’s one of the actor’s dreams. “Like Kamal Haasan sir did in Salangai Oli, I want to create a dance trend that’ll be memorable. Boys helped me get there to some extent, but a film with dance as the central theme will be great.” And no, he doesn’t feel threatened that he’ll be known as a dancer who can act! “I don’t want to give up dancing because it’s something I really love. People have always seen me as a dancer first. I’m okay with that because they have also come to know me as a director’s actor in the past couple of years. I am not insecure,” he gushes. Besides rushing off to crash courses in his favourite hip-hop style of dance, this romantic at heart is living it up in style – single and ready to mingle… or is he? “As clichéd as it may sound, my current love interest is cinema!” But having acted with some of the youngest and prettiest actresses in the industry, hasn’t there been any sparks flying on the sets? “I think it’s always nice to be paired with actresses your age since that prompts an instant connect and your wavelengths immediately match. But, besides that, there has been nothing more! I’ve remained friends with all of my costars,” he smiles, almost flirtatiously. But what’s most endearing about him is his easy attitude and how he doesn’t let his star status get to his head. “I like to be myself – jovial, easy-going. I don’t take stardom very seriously, so it’s easy for me. The only thing is; I am a chronic thinker. I am always worrying about my future because in this industry, nothing is constant and no one safe. It’s the survival of the fittest,” he says matter-of-factly. Bharath’s acting career has been on a slow, but thankfully, uphill rise - seven years and counting. “In that sense, I have great respect for Ajit sir because he had made it on his own.” Without any godfathers, like Bharath. “It makes me believe it is possible! I am very pleased with my career graph so far. Nothing has happened overnight or has come to me on a platter. So I am happy with both my success and failures. Everything has motivated me to keep going. And now, I am here to stay!” he smiles.
First Crush: Oh! I had many crushes when I was in the 10th and 11th Standard (laughs)! Some were one-day some ten, but I loved that special feeling of secretly liking someone. First Love: Love is such a dynamic word. My first girlfriend was an NRI from Australia, who was in the same dance class as me. We dated for some seven months. She went back to Australia later. What can I say? It’s really difficult to manage a personal life when you’re an actor! First Taste of Success: I would say it was when Kadhal released. It really showed the industry what Bharath can do. My most special moment was when I got a call from director Shankar’s office. I was simply overjoyed! First Link-up: (Laughs). I have been quite boring when it comes to this; I haven’t been in too many gossip columns. After 4 The People, I was linked with Gopika and then while shooting for Kadhal, there was news about my alleged relationship with Sandhya. But, all of it fizzled out very quickly!
A 25-year-old with a sizzling physique. A dancer, who moves like a dream and can sweep women off their feet, quite literally! Put the two together and shake it up with oodles of attitude, a dash of style, plenty of spunk, and you’ve got Bharath! “I never understood all the attention I’ve got (from women). Especially in school and college because I wasn’t even as tall as I am now!” he jokes casually on the subject of his popularity among women.
JULY’10 SOUTHSCOPE 21
TAMIL // EXCLUSIVE
DRAMATIC OVERTURES AND SOME SERIOUS SEPIA TONING… Not much has been written or said about Tamil director A L Vijay of the recent Madrasapattinam fame, mostly because he likes it that way. Karuna Amarnath insists on an interview!
With a producer for a father and a brother who is an established actor, cinema being Vijay’s first love is quite understandable. In fact, we’d have been surprised had it been any other way. “Cinema was a dream world for me when I was growing up,” beams the director. He took to film direction as early as when he was in class nine.
took me to Ajit, who was very excited to work with me, and Kireedam happened. I can tell you, I couldn’t have asked for a better start to my career as a director. I got all the recognition, praise and encouragement a debutant could only dream of,” he smiles.
Just as Vijay was wrapping up work on Kireedam, he got a call from Priyadarshan, who wanted to remake Khosla Ka Ghosla in Tamil. “I could not ever turn down an offer from Priyadarshan. He asked me sign a few papers; I did it blindly, and that’s how Poi Solla Porom (PSP) happened,” he tells us. From a family entertainer to satire and comedy, the director didn’t for a moment feel like a fish out of water. Instead, Vijay decided to Vijay wasn’t allowed to bring up his passion for films at home, but he experiment with completely different genres each time he made a film. had his sights rather firmly fixed. Soon, he enrolled for a BA degree in The success of Kireedam was closely matched by PSP’s. Then, it was time Secretaryship. “The only reason I did the course was to get into the for the next change. Taramani film institute, which required an undergraduate degree. As it This time he took us 60 years back in time! Talk about Madrasapattinam turned out, I did not get a seat!” Vijay shares with a wry smile. and he breaks into a smile, “Madrasapattinam is the first film I can call my With little clue about where his life was headed and no real ambition, own. It so happened that everything worked out for me.” With a sketchy Vijay was faced with indecisions. It was the college chairman, Dr Ishari four-line script that was first attempted in college, Vijay met cameraman K Ganesh, who helped Vijay out of this state. “He knew about my Nirav Shah, who immediately took it to actor Arya. Obviously excited by passion for films and my disappointment at the rejection from the film the story, producer Kalpathi S Agoram invested not just his money, but institute. He introduced me to an acquaintance, who then put me on also his faith and confidence in the film. “Throughout the shoot, he kept to R Parthiban sir. For the first time, I saw the institute of filmmaking saying, ‘please do not compromise’! More than for ourselves, we wanted to give our best for Agoram sir,” he reveals. through the eyes of an assistant director,” he recounts. “The teacher went around class asking people what they’d like to do in the future and I stood up and said I’d like to be a film director, quite spontaneously. I don’t know what urged me to say that, but in retrospect, I had no other experience but that of being on film sets,” he recalls.
If working with Parthiban was an eye-opener, then meeting director Priyadarshan was like nirvana for the young Vijay. “Priyan sir is ten times bigger than any film institute. I owe my entire career, all my success to him because everything I have learnt about filmmaking and cinema is thanks to him. He has been like a father-figure in my life, like a guru teaching a child to swim, walk, run…” gushes the director. Under his tutelage, Vijay was part of many films as an assistant director. What was the experience like? “Amazing!” he recounts. “My first film was shot in Andhra, which was extremely tough. Not just the climatic conditions, but also the language and the fact that it was my first film. The greatest thing about assisting Priyan sir is that you get a panoramic view of cinema. There are no barriers. He shares everything he knows about filmmaking with you. For instance, when he was shooting Lesa Lesa, I was the only assistant on the set, so I learnt a lot.” With much enthusiasm and the fire to learn more, Vijay moved on and in 2004, started Venus Ad Films, where he directed close to 100 ad films for national and international brands. Mainstream films, however, was still his only interest. Then the unexpected happened. He was called in to meet actor Ajit. The year was 2007. “The producer Suresh Balaje 22 SOUTHSCOPE JULY’10
Madrasapattinam is a love story, set in the Madras of the preIndependence era. So, in all the drama surrounding the independence struggle and the love story, there are also glimpses of the Madras of those times. “I chose to work with Arya because he’s fresh from Bala sir’s school. And as expected, he was extremely hardworking and passionate about the role. Sometimes, even if I was convinced with a shot, but he’d ask me to re-shoot it.” Delving into the ups and downs he faced during the shoot, Vijay says, “I know it’s a very different and difficult film to make. There is a lot of pressure on me. Mainly because before me, Mani sir made Iruvar and Priyan sir made Kanchivaram. I have great respect for both of them and wouldn’t want them to be disappointed when they see this film. I’ve tried to be as honest as I could with this film. There are no gimmicks, nothing controversial. In fact I’ve tried to keep it as real as I possibly could,” Vijay concedes. “At the end of the day, I feel we’ve made a great film with a lot of conviction. I’d want people to come up to us and say, ‘you’ve done a great job.’” On the verge of a hat-trick, we’re not surprised at Vijay’s confidence.
Photographer: V Rajesh
VERY VIJAY My favourite films: In the last year, I can say my favourite was undoubtedly 3 Idiots; it was an amazing package because it had a message and was entertaining. I am a big fan of Aamir Khan because he understands Indian cinema very well and the film showed that. The other film I loved is Angaadi Theru. I believe films should give you an insight into the culture of the people – the way the live, eat, sleep. This film captures it beautifully. Will never attempt: A fantasy film. In fact, I can say I don’t like the fantasy genre. I like realism and that’s why Iranian and Korean films appeal to me. Stars vs newcomers: I’m not fussy about working with just stars or pushing non-stars for the sake of it. It all depends on what is needed in the film. Can you imagine a Vijay playing the lead in Poi Solla Porom? (laughs) My Funda: Filmmaking is an experience and I want to enjoy every bit of it. Whatever genre I choose, I want to explore it to the maximum and hopefully be able to fully showcase the effort put into the whole process. Coming Up: I am currently looking at directing a Hindi film in association with Venus Records. It will have a youthful feel so we are waiting to hear from Ranvir (Shorey) or Imran (Khan) about their availability. I’ve already started writing another Tamil script, which should go to floor in September or October. JULY’10 SOUTHSCOPE 23
TAMIL // EXCLUSIVE
Khushboo wished me the best They couldn’t have found someone more apt to replace Khushboo in the very popular TV game show Jackpot. And no better time for Nadiya Moidu’s second innings in showbiz after being a full time wife and mom for years, finds Kavita Shanmugam
She reinvented the image of the south Indian screen mom and in her book; moms should be chic and cool to hang out with. You can even take them go–karting as her screen son Jeyam Ravi does in M Kumaram, son of Mahalakshmi. But, Nadiya Moidu, who was a sensation in the Tamil cinema of the 80s with her sweet-as-sunshine looks, left her mark in the public eye even back then. If she did not get women to hanker after her Nadiya kondai (hair bun in her signature style), she had every man mesmerized by her screen presence. She effortlessly played roles like the one in Rajathi Raja in which she teaches Rajinikanth’s character a thing or two about martial arts. She danced around bushes too with the same élan. In her short span as a leading heroine, she also clung to her touch-me-not image and disappeared from the screen without a trace. This is a far cry from the aura of actor and TV anchor, Khushboo who Nadiya has now replaced in Jaya TV’s successful game show Jackpot. In her short stint, she starred with the leading heroes of south like Rajnikanth, Mammootty, Sathiaraj, Prabhu, Mohanlal 24 SOUTHSCOPE JULY’10
and others. She recalls, “My father used to manage my career during my first innings in films and he was always particular I did just clean roles or else we were not interested. I guess that made me very clean and boring.” After an ‘unexpected’ comeback with M Kumaran, Nadiya who prefers being a parttime working mother, agreed to enter the small screen for the first time after much persuasion. It was K P Sunil, vice-president, Jaya TV, who flew down to Mumbai and convinced her that they urgently needed a replacement for Jackpot after Khushboo was unceremoniously shown the door on joining the DMK party. “He told me that I fitted the bill perfectly and I have to set aside just 20 days in a year for working on the game show. Since it’s not a big commitment, and it was a very popular family show, I agreed,” she shares. What was Khushboo’s reaction to her replacement, we wonder. Nadiya replies with her trademark poise, “Khush and I are good acquaintances and we respect each other. She’s always been nice to me, so I called her personally to tell her I’m going to host
Jackpot. It was sweet of her to immediately message me wishing me the best. I preferred to clear the air or else the media might make up stories.” Despite all that sugar-will-not-melt-in-hermouth looks, Nadiya, who has in her time slapped people for ‘messing’ with her, does have a wild streak, she admits. “I do have a wild side but it’s containable,” she says. “I’ve done daring stunts in my earlier films like dodge a running train at the last minute or take off alone on a steam boat without knowing to swim. I love the adrenaline in such roles,” she says. This side to her, prompted actor Sundar C to comment in an interview that he would love to see Nadiya in a cop role. “Yes, I love to do something people don’t expect a woman in her forties to pull off. I would love to play a cop. I want to jump, do challenging and exciting stunts,” she confesses. Unfortunately, after her acting career was stalled post marriage with Maharashtrian boyfriend from Mumbai, she is just not getting enough “exciting” roles.
“There are no exciting roles written for women my age. I feel this is my time to take on challenges and prove myself. Earlier, when I was younger, the most important thing was to go off and get married to my husband,” she points out. But, now having done that, she is all set to play meaty substantial roles. “There’s no concept of a woman in her 40s romancing anyone, for example. Married women are just not desirable,” she responds to whether she will do romantic roles like the ones in Life in a Metro or Meryl Streep’s role as a divorcee who finds new love in It’s Complicated. “On the other hand, I have friends in Mumbai who are single parents and their kids have told them to get into relationships. But Tamil cinema is just not ready for such change. It is still evolving, conservative and not as open to new ideas. Independent Tamil cinema is confined to rural themes and not urban issues,” she says. “I think films on the lines of Paa, and other out of the box stuff should also be made here,” she adds. Nadiya, who turned down an offer in her heydays to act in Maine Pyar Kiya with Salman Khan is open to doing small, independent roles in Hindi cinema since she’s comfortable with the language. Interestingly, acting was not her first career choice as a student in the J J School of Arts, Mumbai, in the 80s. “I was planning to get into advertising and design. But movies happened by accident and since I was not interested in being a full-time career woman, whatever happened to me on the film front, I took it as a bonus. Actually, I prefer the flexibility of doing films once in a while because somewhere inside me, I am a lazy person. I also value my family a lot and like to spend as much time with them as possible,” she says. Moreover, she never expected to return to cinema. It was Raja, the director of M Kumaran, who had called her out of the blue and set her on the road to filmdom once again, she says. “I guess I belong to the old school. If I was a woman of today, I would be a go-getter, doing more work,” says Nadiya, whose recent Tamil film, Pattalam, in which she played a professor, was an average grosser at the box office. “I really loved the character. I’m not dependent on a husband or anybody in that role and the movie did come out well,” she points out. Nadiya however is not the kind to sit around and regret her moves. “I hate to be in that position. I make my decisions based on my gut and I don’t look back. I also don’t have to blame anyone,” she says. Not once has she regretted turning her back on her acting career to marry her husband and move to the US. Her husband and she were in fact courting all the while she was acting in Tamil films. Was that a strain on their relationship? She says, “My husband knew my father was accompanying me on all my shoots. He was not worried about my fidelity, he was more anxious whether I will adapt to a common man’s lifestyle after being a film heroine,” she relates.
they relax,” she says. The steely side is for people who rub her the wrong way, obviously. It was her husband who encouraged her to get back to acting. “He always felt that he had pulled me out too early. So he urges me on this time saying if people still want to see me on big screen, I must go ahead. I have a supportive family and lots of love around me which sees me through as well,” she points out. On acting with superstars like Rajnikanth early on in her career she says, “It was amazing working with Rajnikanth. Being noncontroversial, I kept to myself on the sets and he wouldn’t chat up either. But since I was a newcomer, he would be very sweet and understanding. After Rajathi Raja, which I did with him (which was also my last film) he organised a farewell party for me at a hotel and invited the film unit and my friends.” On her forthcoming projects, all Nadiya is willing to reveal is that she will be seen in a Fazil film once again. “It has been 25 years since we did Nokkethadoorathu Kannumnattu together and so Fazil is working on a family story for me. Revathy has also contacted me and I hope something will work out,” she shares talking of her second innings in filmdom. On the heroines of today: They might be dedicated, independent and care about how they look, but they are also in a race unlike in our time. It becomes difficult for them to keep up. We got a longer spell as heroines. Also, the heroines of today do not stand out since they all look the same - the way they dress, their hairstyles, their image. Favourite actor: Balraj Sahni. I loved his style of acting. It was most natural, it did not seem like he was delivering dialogues. On director Fazil: He’s a director with great vision. When he narrated the story of my first film, Nokketha Doorathu Kannum Naatu, (which was later made as Poove Poochudeva) I felt like I was reading a book. What a story-teller! He also has a great sense of music. He could have made a few changes in his filming style with time but his focus remains on how a story moves rather than on special effects and other aspects which are given so much importance today. How she keeps fit: Regular exercise and a balanced diet. I’m very regular with my workouts in the gym. I live by the waters in Mumbai and I go walking everyday A role close to her heart: I have a soft spot for my role in Poove Poochudeva. It was the one which gave me recognition and a place in people’s hearts. It is because of this role I am still accepted by audiences even after so many years.
However, after being feted and loved by masses in the south, Nadiya went on to live a life as a homemaker without any regrets. Nobody recognises her in Mumbai where she lives now but she doesn’t seem to mind. “I live a very different life in Mumbai. I get my space and freedom. I even stand in a queue to get tickets for a new film in Mumbai,” she says. There’s nothing strange in being treated like a star in one state and nobody in another. Nadiya lives by the principle: don’t complicate your life more than necessary. “I just keep it simple and don’t read too much into what people say. But I am also not a person to take things lying down,” she asserts. “I’m quite a toughie and a volatile person,” she warns. “People do find me intimidating at first, but once they see for themselves just how chilled out I am, JULY’10 SOUTHSCOPE 25
Photographer: V Rajesh
TAMIL // EXCLUSIVE
His style isn’t slapstick; he doesn’t fall all over himself to raise a few laughs. His forte is to make people think. And Vivek’s been doing it effortlessly in Tamil films for years. Pavithra Srinivasan gets humoured, the cerebral way. 26 SOUTHSCOPE JULY’10
Every time he appears on the screen – big or small – people congregate around it. Every word he utters brings a burst of laughter, a slew of assent and at the very least, a glimmer of a smile. He’s not some random guy bent on squeezing a few laughs out of a mandatory audience. Vivek instead is the comedian with a conscience, who believes in offering meaningful humour rather than making people laugh mindlessly. With his freshly groomed hair, gleaming skin and yellow designer shirt (sporting embroidery, no less), he looks like he could give any lead actor a run for his money. Considering which – he probably had acting in sight for quite a while, despite his impressive qualifications, right? Not at all. “I worked as the Assistant Section Officer in the Secretariat,” he informs us with a twinkle in his eyes, sure of our reaction. “I liked my job. I would be the first in line to collect payments for employees. When it came to collecting money from the RBI, I always got token number 1,” he reminisces. “I didn’t dislike it. But I was clear on going somewhere with my life.” That ambition would later pay rich dividends. Viveks’s love for humour often had him performing at the Chennai chapter of the International Humour Club, which is where he first ran into ace director K Balachander. “I wanted to be an assistant director, maybe,” he confides a trifle bashfully. “But he said he saw a potential for comedy in me, and gave me a break in Manadhil Urudhi Vendum, as actor Suhasini’s younger brother. And that’s how it all started.” It might sound simple, the way he says it, but in reality it was an uphill task, as all true success stories are. Ever since Tamil cinema graduated from just another entertaining medium to a roaring cyclone, comedy and comedians have always been an indispensible part of it. Sounds an easy thing to do – laugh. But as comedians over the years will attest vehemently, it’s a Herculean task. Vivek himself took years to perfect his technique and find his own unique space, an impressive accomplishment considering his predecessors and their reputation. Goundamani and Senthil were reigning emperors of comedy, while other A-list comedians like Surulirajan, Venniradai Murthy and others were all going strong. “It was a long journey,” Vivek admits, still with a hint of a smile. “And I did quite a lot of films trying to find a place to belong. On the side, I even wrote a whole lot of haikus under the name Huvek, in Ananda Vikatan. The director used them when he wrote my character in the movie Oru Veedu Iru Vaasal. Finally, it was the movie Thirunelveli that gave me recognition.” It was in this movie that Vivek would find his ground, so to speak. Instead of engaging in exaggerated body language, he took up serious issues like superstitions, caste prejudices and tackled them headlong – with a healthy dose of humour. “This was also the first movie I had writing credits for,” he lets us know. “Thirunelveli gave me my big break.” After this, there could be no looking back. Vivek did work with other comedians, but movies like Run, Saamy and Perazhagan soon pushed him up to big league. Suddenly, he was a star. “Those movies really did change my life. I could approach subjects my way, and use comedy to address serious issues.” Wasn’t there a controversy with his comedy track in Perazhagan, though? The central character, played by Surya is a hunchback, and Vivek’s comedy track took a good few pot shots at him. Surely such insensitivity could have been avoided. “It a little deeper than that,” Vivek answers seriously. “Surya’s character, Prem Kumar is afflicted with a superiority complex. He has a serious physical deformity, but actually ridicules other people who are afflicted! That’s why my character takes a few digs at him,” he grins. “But he’s a nice guy, basically. He’s the reason for Prem Kumar’s marriage and some happiness in his life.”
Talking of acting cruel to rake up people’s conscience, aren’t his performances slightly exaggerated? Surely he with his experience and knack for comic timing, could come up with subtler performances. “See, the thing is, subtlety doesn’t work much here,” Vivek admits eventually. “I’m a big fan of British and American comedies, and the way they handle their comedy tracks is amazing. I am not sure if that can work here. In the A centres, in the big cities, where people have more exposure, such things are appreciated. But we have to remind ourselves that a majority of our audiences are from other centres – the kind that will come to theatres again and again to enjoy the comedy. And subtlety won’t make much sense to them. Remember movies like Abhiyum Naanum, with subtle comedy? Wonderful characterisations and situations, but it didn’t make much of an impact down south. Sometimes, we have to use drastic measures to make things work,” he grins. Still, he prides himself on having broken several stereotypes. “I was the first to break the idea that a comedian has to look funny,” he quips with justifiable pride. “There’s this notion that a comedian has to somehow be a little lesser than the lead, a bit stupid in every way. The moment you look at him, you should break out into laughter. That’s a big misconception.” There are other preconceived notions he’s broken, as well. “I read a lot,” he says. “Sidney Sheldon, Wilbur Smith, Alistair Maclean and Frederick Forsyth are some of my favourite authors. And in Tamil, it would have to be Thamizharuvi Manian and Sujatha.” Ah yes, Sujatha. One of Tamil’s most popular screen-writers, and who provided Vivek’s best lines in Shankar’s blockbuster, Anniyan. Which of his rip-roaring punches were courtesy the writer, and which were his? “If you know his style, then you’ll be able to guess which were mine and which were his,” he laughs. These days, his tracks are his own, aided and abetted ably by his team-mates who also double up as his assistants. Cell Murugan, Kadugu Ramamurthy, Muthu Karuppan et al have been his indispensable seconds when it comes to punch-lines and gags. Aside from these, Vivek prides himself on parody as well. His most recent effort was playing the portly Parasuram Naidu, a spoofy take on Kamal Haasan’s brilliant Balram Naidu, in Thambikku Indha Ooru, along with Bharath. “I was a bit worried about how people might take it,” he confesses. “After all, Kamal is a great actor who’s obviously evolved his skills from observing real life. What right did I have to play upon something like that? But my act was more a homage than a spoof. I’m glad people welcomed it,” he sighs with relief. His hands are full right now with half a dozen projects. He’s just finished director Hari’s Singam, which was a blockbuster. Then there’s Magane En Marugane, where he plays a prominent role, is also up for release. Hasn’t he considered moving beyond comedy? And what about spreading his wings in other industries? “I’m perfectly ok with doing different roles,” he shares, matter-of-factly. “In fact, director Gautham Menon promised me a villain role in his next. But nothing came of it. As for other languages,” he continues. “I didn’t cross over, because comedy isn’t something to take lightly. You need to know the land, the culture and the pulse of the people for it to win. In Run, for example, my track with the Cooum river was very widely appreciated. But in Hindi it fell flat, because the situation is different there,” he explains. Future plans? “I’m definitely interested in entering politics,” he says seriously. “In cinema, you can tell things; in politics you can do them. If movies are a dream, then politics would be a dream come true. One thing is very sure, though. I can’t have a foot in both fields. That would be doing a disservice to both. If I enter politics, I am giving up cinema,” he signs off with a flourish.
JULY’10 SOUTHSCOPE 27
MALAYALAM // EXCLUSIVE
Photographer: Jamesh Kottakal Hair & Make-up: Jayesh Sulthan, Outfits & Styling: Rajani Vivek Location courtesy: Ramada Resorts, Cochin Co-ordinated by: Sridevi Sreedhar
She has just done the unthinkable! In an industry where every film revolves around the hero, Archana Kavi has done Neelathamara and Mummy & Me, both of which were focused mainly on her characters. The petite bombshell looks cool though and remains the bubbly chatterbox that she is, oozing that innate charm as she narrates her success story.
IN AN INDUSTRY WHERE EVERY FILM REVOLVES AROUND THE HERO, ARCHANA KAVI IS CONSPICUOUS BY HER PRESENCE WITH ONLY TWO FILMS, BOTH OF WHICH HAD HER PLAY STRONG CHARACTERS. VIJAY G STARTS A CONVERSATION WITH HER.
Archana, who originally hails from Kannur, was born and brought up in Delhi. It was during her stint as an anchor in a channel that noted director Lal Jose selected her for the role of Kunjimalu, a maid in an old tharavadu, in Neelathamara. It was the remake of a yesteryear film, scripted by eminent writer M T Vasudevan Nair, and Kunjimalu’s role then had been instrumental in making the debut of popular yesteryear heroine Ambika. The more recent Mummy & Me has Archana playing Jewel, a teenager who is quite a brat and has a problem adjusting to her mom’s strict ways. The film has been directed by Jeethu Joseph and has the inimitable Urvashi playing her Mummy. “The best thing about the two roles was that they were totally different in every ways. But after the two films, I am always asked if I am going to do only female oriented roles from now on. My answer is no, I am game for good characters,” says Archana.
Well then she is quite sure about what she does and has an opinion about them all, unlike perhaps most of her peers. On her own admission, she never wanted to be an actor, though she always wanted to be a media person. Archana is candid when she admits that “I can’t multi-task and have some kind of a mental block when I have more than one thing to do.” Want more? Listen to this, “looking good has never affected me.” Or this, “while watching movies in the past, I never used to be too much bothered about the right expression or dialogues.” Or even this, “I am not feeling comfortable to talk over the phone all the time, especially when I am with my family, but then it is part of my job now.” It is a delight to listen to her as she narrates about her makeover from a lively teenager to a star that she is now. “Even when I was asked by director Lal Jose to discuss about the role, I was almost sure that it was never going to happen as the character that I had to portray was that of a maid who lived in the late 1970s. I never preferred traditional outfits in real life and it was difficult for me to get into the psyche of a girl who lived in a remote village in Kerala during that time. There were quite a few people at the studio and he wanted me to smile at one of them, without the others knowing about it. Now, that was something I had never imagined. I was also asked to tie my hair after acting like I was cleaning the courtyard with a broom. Still, I got through that one.” She was asked to meet the scenarist M T Vasudevan Nair and “I became aware about the greatness of the man, only when my dad told me about him. I was totally blank when we met and it was Lal Sir who saved me by answering to what he asked. But he was so nice to me. I had gone there in a traditional wear and I didn’t know about being selected for the role until Lal Jose rang me up for the film’s pooja.” “The pooja of Neelthamara was a function where the cast of the original version was in attendance. Lal Jose introduced me to some of the well known names in the industry, but I had no idea about their achievements and status. I was coming into terms with the glitz and glamour of the showbiz, which I had no idea about until then. The shooting started a month later and I had asked Lal Jose about what preparations I should take before facing the camera. He just wanted me to learn swimming and also to use the broom,” she says. The shooting of the film started in places close to Palakkad. “I had gone to the set on the first day of the shooting wearing a jeans and top. Lal Jose was furious on seeing me in that outfit and then he wanted to know if I had learnt swimming. ‘Are you here for a picnic?’ was his reaction when I said I hadn’t. By then I was sure that I am going to have my toughest days in my life from then on, as the unit members had told me that he was really short-tempered,” laughs she. The first shot was for her to bring a calf from where it was standing in the premises of a house and smile at the hero, who was whistling at her. “Things were okay during the rehearsals, but when we went for the final take, the calf was not ready to move. When I pushed it hard, the calf started running violently. I somehow managed to do what all were required and knew that it was an okay shot, when the whole unit started clapping in approval.” And then she quips, before bursting into laughter, “I think Lal Sir was so annoyed with me in the beginning that he had given me the tough scene to throw me out if I did it wrong.” But then, things happened smoothly thereafter and after the
film’s release, she became a sensation overnight. The song Anuraga vilochananayi… was well appreciated and her looks and mannerisms was perhaps the highlight of it. Now with some more experience as an actor, does she think that the role could have been better, if it was done now? “The credit for moulding me into the character goes to Lal Jose only. If he is directing the film even now, I think I would have been the same. I feel so comfortable working with him and Neelathamara was a fabulous experience for me. I think the only difference could be that, after more experience as an actor, I am better aware about the camera angles and some of those technical aspects now,” says Archana. When Mummy & Me was offered to her, director Jeethu Joseph wanted her to read the script first and he mailed it to her straightaway. “This was one story that was so contemporary and it could be related to by all. Like what my mother said, if she is a mom like Clara (the role played by Urvashi) now who is so concerned about her daughter, she was Jewel sometime back. No wonder, the film has been accepted so well by the audience,” she smiles. Archana feels that she too had a phase in her life, during her early teens, when she was quite irritated by the privileged status given to her brother. “I never understood why there are so many don’ts for the girls. Like, even in the hostels, boys are allowed mobile phones while girls are not and we have a separate space to park our bicycles or bikes. And still we talk about gender equality,” she fumes. “In fact I should consider myself as incredibly lucky since my parents were so understanding and considerate. I am my dad’s favourite and he is my pillar of support. He has even made me familiar with the Internet, bought me a mobile phone before all others thought of buying it and more importantly, he makes me aware about the pluses and minuses of almost everything, which prompts me to do the right thing. Whenever I ask him for something new, he wants me to mention three reasons on why I want that. So, I am ready with the reasons and know myself for sure if I want it or not, by the time I approach my dad. He told me that he trusts me and I never really felt like breaking his trust on me,” she becomes the darling daughter, all on a sudden. Archana is currently doing M A Nishad’s Best of Luck, with Kailash, Asif Ali and Rima Kallingal. Tamil actor Prabhu and Urvashi are also doing important roles in the film. “My character is called Neethu and she is having this blind love for the boy called Surya. There are some twists happening to the story in between,” says she. Offers from Tamil and Telugu have come, but she is waiting for the right one, which is really special. Archana still doesn’t consider herself as a celebrity and hopes success will never get into her head. “The main difference now after my brief stint in the industry is that I am more aware about the need to look good on screen. At the end of the day, I will be made responsible for the way I look and so I have become more conscious.” A star is born, did you say?
THE FAMILY MAN
gets closer to life. Just look at some of the finest films in Malayalam like Neelakkuyil, Chemmeen, Panchagni and my own films like Manassinakkare and Achuvinte Amma. They all have been very well received. You think such perceptions and prejudices prevalent in the industry are going to change? May be because
Sathyan Anthikkad is almost like some of those characters in his films - simple, sincere and down to earth. His films are essentially aimed at the family audiences and his profile includes some of the best in Malayalam ever, including T P Balagopalan MA, Sanmanassullavarkku Samadhanam, Nadodikkaattu, Mazhavilkkavadi, Thalayanamanthram, Veendum Chila Veettukaryangal, Sandesham, Manassinakkare and Achuvinte Amma are just some of them. In fact, his 50th film as a director, Kadha Thudarunnu, is running successfully now. With so many untold stories which can make his viewers flock to the theatres, it is perhaps naïve to ask him if he intends to change his style. For the record, he is not just ready for that yet. Sathyan prefers to watch the early films by Mani Ratnam and the gems from Padmarajan, repeatedly, to refresh his mind. He avoids gossips or controversies and imparts the earthy charm in himself to the stories that he narrate.
Sathyan Anthikkad talks to Vijay G in an exclusive interview, where he talks about his films and more. The popular assumption is that it is not easy to market female oriented stories. Still, why did you go for such a theme, in your recently released Kadha Thudarunnu? It is true that this perception is prevailing in the industry. That may be the reason why the projects are happening based on the heroes only, with the stories revolving solely around them. More than being the part of the industry, I would like to see things from the perspective of a viewer. I feel that in reality there are no such categorisations for the viewer and what they want are good films. Also, one thing I have noted is that when we narrate subjects mainly focusing on the lives of women; it 30 SOUTHSCOPE JULY’10
I am an established director, I didn’t have much of a problem in marketing the film as well. But things could have been more difficult for a newcomer. Our problem is that certain perceptions are believed as trends. The viewers are always believed to be prejudiced but in real, they are not. The 80’s generation of filmmakers had the courage to tread beyond formulaic patterns. In fact, if we understand cinema in a deeper way, we will have that courage especially in Malayalam as the viewers here are looking forward to watch good cinema. But such films may take a week or more to find its acceptance and that time should be given. I even think the concept of stardom is coming to an end in Malayalam and people will go for good stories only. You have been part of some controversies following the release
of Kadha Thudarunnu. One was regarding plagiarism and the other, on the film having a communal agenda? I think certain people like to create controversies involving famous names, just to hog the headlines. I don’t think there is more than that about the issue about the inspiration for the story. Regarding the communal charge, well, I feel some of these critics are trying to instill venom in the minds of the viewers with the pen. I sincerely believe that people should not see cinema with such venomous eyes. Anyway I have decided not to comment on all that add fuel to those issues. You have completed 50 films as a director. How do you feel when you look back on the journey? In fact I realised Kadha Thudarunnu was my 50th film, only when a friend told me about it. Frankly, I don’t think it’s a milestone that the viewer cares about when they go to the theatres. They don’t care if it’s the 49th, 50th or 51st and they are buying the tickets just to watch a good movie. Still on a personal level, it is perhaps an achievement and my feelings are mixed at this point of time. The heartening thing is that even after so many years, I am
liked by the viewers and the producers. The sad part is when we think about certain friends and colleagues, some of whom have gone elsewhere, some have parted ways with me and a few are no more. How did your approach towards cinema change over the years, from your first film Kurukkante Kalyanam to the latest, Kadha Thudarunnu? I don’t think my approach has changed over the years as I am still having the same fear and tension when I start a new project. Of course, the same spirit of excitement is there as well. Perhaps now I am more concerned about the making aspects, especially since today’s viewers are more aware about it all, after watching good films from various languages. Like, if it was during earlier times, I wouldn’t have perhaps thought about a song like Aaro padunnu doore… in Kadha Thudarunnu. Now things are different and the song has been made to suit the trend. On marketing terms, it has the effect of a trailer.
What is the highlight of your films, on your own assessment? I feel that there is some kind of a confidence in the minds of the viewers that my films may be fine, could not fall beyond a certain level and every film will have something genuine to give them. The audience has so far approved my sincerity and honesty towards the films that I make. Cinema is not a celebration for me, it is a passion. Still, you seem to prefer making films with established names in the lead and not fresh talents? I have introduced a few actors in the lead roles in the past, but yes, I don’t do that quite often. Even for Kadha Thudarunnu, I was looking for a new girl, but it was a role that was too heavy to be handled by a rank newcomer. But then I do make it a point to work with comparatively lesser experienced actors of the times like Narain in Achuvinte Amma and Asif Ali in Kadha Thudarunnu. What I have always been careful about was in promoting the supporting actors. From Oduvil Unnikrishnan, Shankaradi, Philomina in the past to Chembil Asokan and Lakshmipriya, I am looking forward to actors who look close to the characters.
Quite a lot of your yesteryear films have received the cult status. But when you look at them, do you think those films could have been made in a different way? No, I do enjoy those films still and it suited the psyche of the society then. Such films would not have been perfect if they had come now. Like some have told me that my film Appunni would have been more accepted if it was released now. But I disagree. Appunni’s village and the whole environment have changed now. But then, Sandesham is still highly relevant and looks brand new even now as politics has been almost the same still. The infightings and all those things associated with politicians hasn’t changed at all (laughs).
more importantly, without resorting to mimicry, especially in quite a lot of films where you and Sreenivasan came together? (Smiles) The films made by myself and scenarist Sreenivasan had shades of our own self and behavior. Of course, we love humour and often we just looked around us to make such situations. Perhaps that was the reason why it looked so natural and strong. All of us go through so many situations in life which can make us laugh. We made it sure that the humour was not brought in just to evoke laughs. You started your career penning lyrics for some beautiful songs. But why didn’t you continue doing that? My aim was to become a director and I was focused on that. When I became one, I wanted to use the talents of others, of course for my own selfish interest, to add to the effect of my film. Like, I think lines like Enthu paranjaalum nee entethalle vave… wouldn’t have come from me. Still, when I listen to some of my songs and when my friends remind me of my lyrics, I do feel I should have attempted to pen some line, at least once in a while. That is true for writing screenplays and I am the last choice as a scenarist for my own films. Even now, if Sreenivasan is ready I am ready to team up with him for my next film. What according to you is the reason for the wonderful chemistry that you share with Sreenivasan? I have associated with many writers, but Sreenivasan is the closest to my heart. I consider T P Balagopalan MA as a film that started the second chapter of my life. Sreeni and I have grown up almost in the same background and we think almost on the same lines. There have been rumours doing the rounds that you and Sreenivasan are coming together soon? We are seriously thinking about such a project and I am sure it will happen very soon.
Though mimicry is used to generate laughs, your films had genuine humour. How did you manage to tickle the funny bones of millions with so much ease and JULY’10 SOUTHSCOPE 31
TAMIL // EXCLUSIVE
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NAYAN WEDS PRABHU? The million buck question that has been plaguing south movie buffs and Prabhu - Nayan’s fans for quite some time now is – will they, won’t they? Tie the knot, that is. Sridevi Sreedhar can’t resist letting the cat out. Impressions are meant to be broken. Initially, it seemed like Diana Kurien alias Nayanthara’s choice of acting career was her short cut to big money. But the gorgeous girl from small town Tiruvalla in Kerala silenced her detractors and surprised her co-stars with her professional adeptness. Big banners and superstars of Tamil and Telugu made a beeline for her. She had the looks, talent and that special knack of making news at regular intervals and hence was always the tabloid queen of south Indian cinema. Every time you think she’s done it all, she springs another surprise. There’s no one quite like her. Her elusive nature, her on-off relationship with Silambarasan, her cat fight with Trisha, her visits to temples, just being a few examples. There is no denying that life has changed for Nayanthara in the last one year and she has been embroiled in too many controversies in too short a time, the most sensational among them being her roaring affair with noted choreographeractor-director Prabhu Deva. Today, Nayanthara is chilling out at her home in Tiruvalla after completing her first off beat, realistic film Electra directed by award winning director Shyamaprasad. It looks like the curtains are down for Nayanthara, the reigning glam queen of southern cinema. Yes, Nayan is most likely to call it a day as she plans to get married to Prabhu Deva at the peak of her career. She has not signed any new films and it looks like Boss Engira Bhaskaran in Tamil, Electra in Malayalam and Symbol in Kannada will be her last hurrah. Nayan looks happy and chilled out. It looks like she has decided to give up acting and may just marry Prabhu by early next year. She has gone into a shell and is just not interested in signing new films. Just imagine, she has actually turned down good friend director Siddique’s offer to be Salman Khan’s heroine in the Hindi remake of her Malayalam Bodyguard! Movies just don’t excite her any longer. What has captured her fancy these days is cooking! She’s busy honing her culinary skills as she believes that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. It’s quite obvious that behind the smart professional façade hides the girl-next-door at heart and a woman in love who finds her pleasures in simple things. Nayanthara fell in love with Prabhu Deva during the making of Villu. The media thought it was just another fling, but she surprised everybody when she tattooed his name, P in English and the rest in Tamil, a little above her left wrist. She made no attempt to hide it from the media glare. In fact, she basked in its reflected glory.
She was made out to be the other woman and put under the Tamil media scanner constantly. As expected, the public sympathy was with Prabhu Deva’s wife Ramlath. During the media trial, Ramlath in an interview burst out and threatened to physically bash Nayan up in public! Some women’s organizations in Tamil Nadu took up the cudgels for the wife and wanted Tamil producers to ban Nayanthara. Around this time, Nayan dealt an ace, when she agreed to come on stage and perform a dance number with Prabhu Deva at a thanks giving function for the Chief Minister M Karunanidhi organized by the powerful Nadigar Sangam and Tamil Film Producers Council. It was a masterstroke by Nayan as the stage performance silenced her detractors and some sort of official recognition was given to her relationship with a married man. The Tamil film industry took a U- turn and asked – “What’s wrong in a married star falling in love with an actress and wanting to marry her? There have been many precedents in the past.” The Prabhu Deva and Nayanthara affair was finally accepted by the industry, provided Ramlath agreed for an amicable divorce. After performing on stage together, Prabhu and Nayan started making public appearances together. They were the cynosure of all eyes when they made joint appearances at various events like the Southscope Style Awards 2009 in Hyderabad, director Siddique’s daughter’s wedding in Kochi, in Chennai multiplexes watching movies together and holidaying in exotic places. Now, Prabhu’s family – including his kids - has accepted Nayan and she is said to be the darling of the household. Recently, there was news in the local dailies about a big pooja and homam done by Sundaram Master, Prabhu’s dad in which the couple exchanged garlands. Now the buzz is that Nayan is helping Prabhu in the production work of his new film Itch starring Jayam Ravi and Hansika, which is being shot in Paris. In spite of all this, the gorgeous actress has never ever denied her relationship in media. She prefers to maintain silence, keeps a low profile and not react. To quote Nayan: “I am a normal girl and I’ve tried to stay away from controversies but somehow controversies seem to follow me. I’m from a humble background, a completely non-filmi framework and hope people understand that they need to respect my privacy in personal life.” We understand Nayan but we just couldn’t help our readers into your secret. JULY’10 SOUTHSCOPE 33
VIKRAM // CENTRE STAGE
Photographer: G Venket Ram Styling & Costumes: Vivek Karunakaran
POWER PACKED ROLES, SUCCESSFUL FILMS, SUPERSTAR STATUS, COUNTRY’S MOST COVETED DIRECTOR’S CHOICE AND NOW ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMEN IN THE WORLD FOR A COSTAR…WHAT MORE CAN A PERFORMER ASK FOR? STAR, SEX SYMBOL, CONSUMMATE ACTOR VIKRAM A.K.A CHIYAAN GETS COMFORTABLE WITH SRIDEVI SREEDHAR AS HE TALKS ABOUT HIS DREAM-COME-TRUE OF WORKING WITH MANI RATNAM AND THE JOURNEY CALLED RAAVAN
VIKRAM // CENTRE STAGE
RAAVAN SEEMS TO BE YOUR BIG TICKET TO BOLLYWOOD. ARE WE GOING TO SEE MORE OF YOU IN HINDI CINEMA? EVERYBODY IS ASKING ME THIS QUESTION. I AM HOPING TO REACH OUT TO WIDER AUDIENCES THROUGH BOLLYWOOD. I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN INTERESTED IN DOING CROSSOVER FILMS AND I’M SURE THAT RAAVAN IS GOING TO TAKE ME GLOBAL. I’M JUST TESTING THE WATERS IN HINDI CINEMA. ANNIYAN DUBBED INTO HINDI AS APARACHIT EARLIER GAVE ME RECOGNITION IN BOLLYWOOD. I DID GET MANY OFFERS IN MUMBAI, BUT MY PRIORITY WILL ALWAYS BE TAMIL CINEMA. EVERYTHING DEPENDS ON THE SCRIPT, THOUGH. WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT STATE OF MIND? I AM FLYING, THRILLED AND INTOXICATED. TELL US ABOUT WORKING WITH MANIRATHNAM. I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN A DIRECTOR’S ACTOR. FOR ME, ACTING WITH MANI HAS ALWAYS BEEN A DREAM. THERE WAS A STAGE WHEN I USED TO THINK I SHOULD DO ONE FILM WITH MANIRATHNAM AND QUIT ACTING. NOW AFTER TWO FILMS, ALL I CAN SAY IS THAT WORKING WITH HIM IS MAGICAL. HIS PASSION IS CONTAGIOUS, HIS APPROACH TO HIS CHARACTERS AMAZINGLY UNIQUE AND HE ALLOWS HIS ARTISTES TO IMPROVISE. HE IS A MASTER CRAFTSMAN; YOU GET DRAWN INTO HIS FILMMAKING AND IMBIBE A LOT FROM HIM. I WOULD RATE HIM AS ONE OF THE BEST DIRECTORS IN THE COUNTRY TODAY. I HAVE LEARNT A GREAT DEAL FROM HIM. LIKE? I’VE LEARNT THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON THAT YOUR FILM SHOULD DO THE TALKING AND NOT YOU. I HAVE STARTED TO LOVE AND ENJOY MY PROFESSION MORE. WHAT IF HE WERE TO CALL YOU FOR HIS NEXT FILM? I WOULD FIRST ASK HIM IF WE WERE SHOOTING IN FORESTS (LAUGHS). JUST KIDDING, BUT FRANKLY I CAN’T WAIT TO DO AN ENCORE WITH HIM. HAVE YOU COME TO TERMS WITH THE ADULATION AND ATTENTION THAT YOU ARE RECEIVING AS A PAN INDIAN ACTOR WITH RAAVAN? I CAN’T DREAM OF A BETTER LAUNCH VEHICLE AND PLATFORM THAN THIS. THE RESPECT AND ADMIRATION THAT I’M RECEIVING IS TRULY EXHILARATING. HOW DO YOU REACT TO BEING COMPARED TO ABHISHEK? COMPARISONS ARE UNFAIR WE ARE TWO DIFFERENT ACTORS WITH DIFFERENT BODY LANGUAGE AND ACTING STYLE. TO BE HONEST, RIGHT FROM THE BEGINNING WE DID NOT WATCH EACH OTHER’S PERFORMANCE. I HAVEN’T WATCHED HIM PLAY BEERA AT ALL AND NOR DID HE WATCH ME AS VEERA. IT WAS A CONSCIOUS DECISION TO MAKE SURE WE DON’T GET INFLUENCED BY EACH OTHER’S PERFORMANCE. NEITHER DID MANI SIR INSIST WE DO. THE ONLY TIME I DID SEE HIM PLAY BEERA WAS WHEN WE HAD SCENES TOGETHER. I FEEL HE HAS DONE A FABULOUS JOB.
YOU HAVE DONE TWO DIFFERENT ROLES IN BOTH THE VERSIONS; SOMETHING THAT NO OTHER ACTOR IN WORLD CINEMA HAS DONE? IT WAS A HUGE CHALLENGE. MANI’S CONFIDENCE IN ME TO DELIVER TWO CONTRASTING ROLES SPURRED ME. AND WHEN HE TOLD THE AUDIENCES AT THE CANNES FILM FESTIVAL THAT I PLAY VEERA IN THE TAMIL VERSION AND DEV IN THE HINDI VERSION, THEY WERE SURPRISED. I AM THRILLED TO KNOW THAT NO ACTOR HAS EVER TRIED SUCH A THING. VEERA OR DEV. WHICH IS YOUR PICK? VEERA IS MULTIFACETED, MENACING AND STRONG. IN TERMS OF ACTING AND LANGUAGE, IT WAS MORE CHALLENGING. YET, THERE WAS MORE SCOPE TO ADD THE FINER NUANCES. DEV IS A STYLISH COP. MY BIGGEST CHALLENGE WAS HINDI AND WHEN THE DIALOGUE WRITER CALLED ME UP AND SAID THAT MY DUBBING IS PERFECT, I WAS THRILLED. DEV, OF COURSE, WILL GET ME NEW AUDIENCES. THAT IS QUITE EXCITING. HOW WAS IT WORKING WITH ABHI AND ASH? THEY ARE TWO BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE WHO ARE EXTREMELY PROFESSIONAL. I AM COMPLETELY IN AWE OF THEM. AS COSTARS, ASH AND I SHARED AMAZING VIBES. YOU CAN TELL THAT FROM OUR ONSCREEN CHEMISTRY. SHE BRAVED WOUNDS, PAIN, FEVER AND INSECT BITES HEROICALLY IN THE FORESTS. SHE DID ALL THE DANGEROUS SCENES WITHOUT USING A DOUBLE. ABHI HAS BECOME A GREAT FRIEND AND MY BEST COSTAR SO FAR. I TOTALLY ENJOYED WORKING WITH HIM. ANOTHER NATIONAL AWARD FOR YOUR ACTING? WHY CAN’T I DREAM OF GETTING ANOTHER AWARD? BUT THE FACT IS I’VE NEVER DONE ANY FILM WITH AWARDS IN MIND. BUT SINCERELY, I AM CONFIDENT THAT MANI WILL WIN MANY AWARDS FOR RAAVAN.
VIKRAM // CENTRE STAGE
VIKRAM // CENTRE STAGE
I HAVEN’T WATCHED ABHI PLAY BEERA AT ALL AND NOR DID HE WATCH ME AS VEERA. IT WAS A CONSCIOUS DECISION TO MAKE SURE WE DON’T GET INFLUENCED BY EACH OTHER’S PERFORMANCE.
A POSTER SINGS A THOUSAND PRAISES! There’s a good reason why fans regard our stars as gods. Stars, after all wield quite unimaginable power here. They are the harbingers of justice, the sons and daughters born to destroy the world’s evil. Stars shine as the sign of good times to come – they help you hope that even if today is bad, tomorrow will be another day. And these larger than life superstars have been immortalised on posters for as long as cinema has existed. Many decades later, the mania’s still intact. Fans put up posters of the stars on every occasion, momentous or not. Posters flourished as delighted fans worshiped their idols in those initial years of cinema when TV and radio didn’t exist or weren’t as big. The trend though was confined to promoting cinema itself, and any special talents of the stars. In the heyday of MGR, Sivaji Ganesan and their contemporaries, poster mania scaled new heights. This was when stars ceased to be just stars; actors who simply did their job like everyone else. They actually took on all the superheroism they showed on screen. With actor extraordinaire MGR attaining cult status in the political arena, the poster era spread in earnest. Along with titles, fans prepared posters for every occasion: speeches, political events, movie poojas and birthdays. Occasion or not, there would be a poster ready to be put up. The trend became a movement when Rajinikanth became a
42 SOUTHSCOPE JULY’10
In the world of Tamil cinema, poster mania still rocks, finds Pavithra Srinivasan
superstar. As fan clubs mushroomed across the state, putting up posters were no longer a matter of affection and adulation – it was a status symbol. Every movie release saw enormous cut-outs rise into the sky, rivalling skyscrapers, shuddering under the load of garlands and milk abhishekams. Depending on the fans’ zeal and budget, the posters ranged from flimsy paper to glossy boards. Star titles were liberally in use, and posters were plastered all over empty compound walls in pink, yellow, moss green, take your pick. In the late eighties and early nineties, posters increased in size, colour and effusion. However, they were still the mainstay of serious fans, who often spent from their own pockets for all the adulation. With the possible advent of Rajinikanth into politics, the scenario changed. Suddenly, the man was no longer just an actor – he seemed poised to follow his illustrious predecessor’s footsteps. The situation was full of possibilities. Zealous fans put up posters all over the state on behalf of every fan club, exhorting, cajoling and exulting by turns as their star pondered his decision. Meantime, other stars appeared on the horizon: Vijay and Ajith Kumar mainly. Both acted in a series of romantic entertainers, before slowly building up a considerable mass audience.
In the meantime, fans of Vijay and Ajith graduated to the next step that technology offered. The change took effect once cut-outs were banned. From flex banners, the iconic fascination spread out to mile-wide digital posters. The colourscheme underwent a transformation as well. Posters were now designed with not just the star’s image, but the fans’ too. Thousands of nameless, previously faceless fans now identified themselves by their designations. They were presidents, secretaries or treasurers of one fan association or another. It was as much a celebration of the fans’ love for their idols, as the idols themselves.
Of late, banners and posters have been popping up for others who aren’t yet stars quite yet. They may not be capable of commanding thousands, but they are getting there. For some, who aren’t stars at all, but have the capacity to buy dedication, it’s a similar story. They too seem to bask in flowery praises, elaborate posters and good wishes galore.
Newer icons have entered the fray now, while the poster mania of the older stars has acquired newer definitions. Fans put up posters when blood donation camps take place. Birthdays are always special occasions, but Rajini’s fans always put forth a plea for him to enter politics. Kamal Haasan’s fans are especially proud of their idol’s love for social service. Ajith’s fans have always been extremely possessive about him and inordinately proud of his achievements. Everything he does, from an interview in a TV channel, to the lack of his releases during
Vijay’s fans are an enthusiastic lot too. From designing their own model ‘newspaper,’ to wishing Rajinikanth a happy birthday on behalf of their Thalapathi, they’re a fierce, dedicated congregation.
But when the day is done, the real stars still shimmer in celluloid skies. Their fans’ posters are but a reflection of that starry light.
IF IT’S SOUTH CINEMA, IT’S GOT TO BE
Deepavali, merits a poster. During a recent controversy, they actually poured down on the streets around town on his behalf.
INDIA’S LEADING SOUTH FILM MAGAZINE
www.southscope.in The ardour for Rajinikanth never diminished though. Fans, by and large were large-hearted, and their loyalty continued to express itself in every form. Rajinikanth’s posters changed in tone from cinematic to political. He was now addressed as Thalaiavar, asked to take the reigns of the government and usher in a new age in Tamil Nadu.
RAVI K CHANDRAN // EXCLUSIVE
23 years in films, 50 films and over 1000 commercials. Do the math and you’ll know why Ravi K Chandran, better known as RKC, is one of the leading cinematographers in India today. Sridevi Sreedhar gets a wide angle shot of the man behind the lens.
He’s much in demand, has a stellar list of names he’s worked with. And if it interests you, has a fan in Shah Rukh Khan! Hailing from Kerala, Ravi drew inspiration from close quarters. His brother, Ramachandra Babu was considered as a doyen among Malayalam cameramen and was a favourite of the late Bharathan and I V Sasi in the 70s and 80s. Ravi is proud of having grown up on good cinema and had an early exposure to the works of Truffaut and Godard and works of others in international cinema. Now, his residence at K K Nagar in Chennai is filled with photographs, sketches, and tonnes of books and magazines on cinema. He got a break as an independent cameraman in Kilukkampetti followed by the super hit Ekalavyan. Ravi later moved to Chennai and played assistant to Rajiv Menon in Minsarakanavu and then as an independent cameraman in Kandukondein Kandukondein. From then on, his growth was phenomenal. Later, Priyadarshan gave him the big ticket to Bollywood with Virasat. This in turn got him Farhan Akhtar’s Dil Chahta Hai. He went on to shoot Black and Paheli, which also made him a strong contender for the 2008 National Award, but hasn’t won any despite being deserving. RKC doesn’t take that lightly: “I think you need a bit of luck and heavy lobbying to get a National Award. A lot of my friends expected my work in Black to be noticed. Films like that don’t come that easily, but nevertheless, it gave me immense satisfaction as a cinematographer and
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it will remain one of my best works.” RKC’s filmography is awe-inspiring and today, he is one of India’s highest paid cameramen. Quiz him on this and he quips: “I take my salary in white money and pay my taxes regularly. I have no vices, no flashy cars or lifestyle excesses. I come from a middle-class background and even today, my wife is uncomfortable dining in five star hotels. We live in our 22 year old, two-bedroom house in K K Nagar and my kids go to school by auto or cycle.” A thoughtful pause later, he concedes, “I do charge a hefty amount for a commercial film and at the same time work free for a film like Nandita Das’ Firaaq, which gives me creative satisfaction.” The conversation steers to the best cameramen in the business today. “P C Sreeram and Balu Mahendra brought in revolutionary changes to photography. Their work and contribution to Indian cinema has been incredible. And they were willing to experiment.” Ask him about Mani Ratnam and he smiles. “Mani sir is a true genius. He shoots fast and uses a lot of natural light. He is one director who allows you to improvise, pushes you to the brim, and knows all about camera and lighting.” After Paheli, Rab Ne Banadi Jodi and My Name is Khan, Ravi and SRK have been on a mutual admiration trip. “Shahrukh is sharp, super intelligent and knows everything about cinema. He motivates the unit and believes that it is teamwork that leads to a successful film. He does not have the ego of a superstar.” Wonder why he walked out on Khan’s new film, RA 1 then. “As a policy I work on only one film at a time. RA 1 is a science fiction film, which has to be shot mostly on green screen. That’s not challenging for me but we sat and talked about it, and he understood.” Talk about the other Khan and RKC recollects, “Aamir is a genius and his house is like a library where you will find books from science fiction to cartoons and practically everything in between. Recently I met up with Ang Lee and Anurag Kashyap for dinner at Aamir’s place and I felt so out of place when they started talking about a book written by a German author. Considering that he is a school drop-out, Aamir is an encyclopaedia when it comes to anything under the sun, so well-read, open to criticism and ideas and such a mystery to everyone around him.” Quiz him on his favourite among the flock of women in the acting business and he is quick to respond: “All the girls - Rani, Preity Kajol and Aishwarya - with whom I have worked are dedicated actors. But Priyanka is my current favourite. She is hard working, hassle free, does her homework and is extremely professional. She adds a special something to her character, is a team player and knows everyone on the sets by name.” And what about Ranbir? “He is a sweetheart, the next superstar. Is a combination of Naseerudin Shah and SRK! I would call him the Mohanlal of Hindi films.” RKC incidentally has just completed Anjaana Anjaani with Ranbir and Priyanka in New York On why he took a six year break from Tamil cinema, Ravi says: “My dates for next year are blocked and I do only one film at a time. Murugadoss knew my schedules and smartly blocked my dates a year ago. And I missed doing Imtiaz Ali’s Rock Star and Farhan Aktar’s Don 2 to accommodate this film. But I am happy, as
it is mostly being shot in Chennai and I can be near my family”. The film titled 7 am Arivu (seventh sense) has Suriya and Shruti Haasan in the lead. Ravi is all praises for the script, sharing that he has started work on the storyboard, something that he picked up from the late director Bharathan. He has illustrated the scenes and has made montages of it. He is working with the director, editor and cast to get the look of the film. “It is a romantic action thriller with a subtle message”, he says: “It’s a delight to work with Suriya who has matured as an actor.” Ever the perfectionist, Ravi has no plans to direct a film but looks forward to doing a film as Director of Photography, in Malayalam. There’s a rider though: the script has to be exciting, and he’ll only sign it for directors like Jayaraj or Shyamaprasad. Needless to say, Ravi is excited. So are we! 10 Best Films (Ravi’s pick) Black Paheli Yuva Kannathil Mutthamittal Dil Chahta Hai Kannezhuthi Pottum Thottu Firaaq Virasat Saawariya Kandukondein Kandukondein JULY’10 SOUTHSCOPE 45
RAVI KISHAN // EXCLUSIVE
CHORA GANGA KINARE WALA The biggest superstar of Bhojpuri cinema is now descending down south and going international too! Mona Ramavat gets Ravi Kishan out of the Raavan hangover to talk of other things.
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He does such things as teaching Bhojpuri to Priyanaka Chopra and helping Rakhi Sawant sort through her grooms. But he’s far from the woman’s man that he’s made out to be, in real life. Although Ravi Kishan is seeing the heights of stardom in the niche Bhojpuri film industry, he is pushing his boundaries, quite literally and experimenting with various roles and filmmakers. The point is: Ravi doesn’t fail to surprise us.
For those who don’t know, he has hosted a TV show titled, Raaz Pichle Janam Ka in which common people and celebrities were invited for a past life regression session by a qualified therapist. When Ravi went through the session himself, he discovered that he was a naaga sadhu who went through quite a lot of hardship then. The year was 1819. So was it surprising for him to know that?
If Luck had him play the psychopathic killer with such animal intensity, it was a subtler role of Mangal (Beera’s brother) that he played in Raavan. The film was a “king sized disappointment” in the words of film critic, Taran Adarsh. But Ravi has no regrets whatsoever. “The experience of working with such artistes as Mani Ratnam and Vikram was most enriching for me as an actor. It’s an honour to be chosen by Mani Sir to play a part in his film. Besides that, I bonded big time with Vikram, who interestingly gave me plenty of ideas for Bhojpuri films. Working with Abhi and Ash was unsurprisingly a wonderful experience,” Ravi contends. “I put my soul in that role, however minor and I thoroughly enjoyed playing it,” says the SRK of Bhojpuri cinema who is used to mass hero worship, but has also been doing side character roles in Hindi films. So doesn’t that create cognitive dissonance of some sort in his mind? “Not at all. Whistling crowds give me a high and so does critical acclaim. I definitely would like to reach out to wider audiences, which is one reason I prefer doing Hindi films too. Plus I am constantly striving to explore my potential as a performer. Working with Shyam Benegal in Welcome to Sajjanpur was also enriching in itself. Shyam babu made me see a different Ravi.”
“Well not really. When I imagined myself, I always thought that I would be a jogi (ascetic) or bhogi (lustful person). Thankfully I was a jogi!” he jests.
We will also soon see a different Ravi in his first Telugu film! He has been roped in for a yet untitled film starring Ram Charan Tej, the shooting for which will begin sometime soon. Besides this, he’s really excited about Man From Benaras, an international production that will be made in Hindi and English. Ravi is playing an Aghori sadhu in this film for which, he will be posing nude for the camera too. That bit of news related to this film is creating quite a buzz already. “Yeah, it’s not everyday that an Indian actor strips for the camera,” Ravi smiles, letting us know that he’s putting in a lot of preparation into this role. Besides rigorous gyming, he has also been spending some time psyching himself for it. “But of course, it will be shot in the night in a cemetery with aesthetic lighting and subtle camerawork. The challenge will be to keep fans wanting to see the shooting, at bay.” The film has an unconventional story with a white woman falling completely in lust with the Indian ascetic played by Ravi. Apart from being his first international project, this role is special for him for another reason too. “The character of the naaga sadhu was quite relatable since I was one in one of my previous lifetimes.” Before you begin to wonder what kind of babble this is turning into, let us tell you about Ravi’s past life regression experience.
So are the two diametrically opposite? “To tell you the truth, I’m both in the same lifetime. Jeans pehen kar bhi main jogi hoon aur apni kala me main bhogi hoon (Even in jeans I feel like an ascetic and I am lustful through my creativity.) So what else did he discover in these sessions? “The purpose of this lifetime.” And that is? “To give.” As in? To give as much of myself to others. Be it relationships, the society, my community, the nation,” he lets us know. Is that why he has done all that he did for the Bhojpuri film industry? “Well, yes. You could say that. Recently, a Bhojpuri film – Jala Deb Duniya Tohar Pyaar Ma – was screened at the Cannes film festival. This is the first time that a Bhojpuri film got this kind of international exposure. After the southern industry, I think the Bhojpuri film industry is turning out to be the most active regional film industry in India, with a hundred films produced every year,” he lets us know. So what’s next on the cards? “We are working towards having a studio built for Bhojpuri films. And I am doing two films in Bhojpuri – the remakes of Devdas (paired with Bhyagyashree!) and Don. Whoa! “I’m very kicked about these films.” What about the comparisons with the Hindi versions and Shah Rukh Khan? “And Bachchan sahab in the case of Don plus Dilip Kumar who did Devdas earlier too. Yes, it will be a huge challenge to hold my own. Let me tell you, people who watch Bhojpuri films watch Hindi films too. So there are bound to be comparisons. Bas dar hai ki mooh ke bal na giroon (I’m just apprehensive that I don’t fall flat on my face.) But I’m confident that people will come to watch Ravi Kishan on screen. I am not imitating anybody here.” Where does so much passion come from for the camera? “From my late childhood and growing up years. I used to steal my mother’s sari and go play Seeta in our local Ramleela. I grew up hero worshipping Amitabh Bachchan, Balraj Sahni, Mithun Chakravarthy, Chiranjeevi, Rajinikanth. The quest for the camera grew and grew. I struggled quite a bit to make it. Fifteen years or something like that. There were times when I wouldn’t have a project I would cry with the makeup kit in my hands.” Quite a journey from there to here. “Yes, it has been. And the best is yet to come.”
WHAT MAKES YOU THE ANGRIEST? DISHONESTY WHAT WILL YOU NEVER EVER DO: HAVE AN EXTRA MARITAL AFFAIR WHAT DO YOU FEAR MOST: NOTHING WHO IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMAN YOU’VE EVER SEEN? AISHWARYA RAI BACHCHAN WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST DREAM? TO SEE MYSELF WALK THE RED CARPET AND RECEIVE AN OSCAR FOR A BHOJPURI FILM
JULY’10 SOUTHSCOPE 47
MUMBAI EXPRESS // EXCLUSIVE
PRAKASH JHA MADE ME LEARN SWEAR WORDS IN HINDI MEET SARAH THOMPSON, THE FIRANG GIRL FROM RAJNEETI WHO HAS TAKEN A LIKING TO ALL THINGS INDIAN – CRICKET, AAMIR KHAN AND BOLLYWOOD NAACH GANA. ANIL MERANI GETS USED TO THE AMERICAN ACCENT.
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It seems to be raining foreign beauties in Bollywood. After the exotic Mexican Barbara Mori made our hearts lurch some, there came American TV and film actor, Sara Thompson who has made an impressive Bollywood with Rajneeti. Among Sarah’s better work home have been TV shows Seventh Heaven and Angel. She has also acted in a film with Hollywood super hero Richard Gere. For starters, Sara seems to be well versed in saying all the correct things about India. ”I just love Indian culture. In fact my parents, who are travelers, have been to India before and have carried loving memories back home. Indian culture has permeated American society big time. Yoga centers have opened everywhere. Indian tea is the new in thing,” she lets us know. But how did Rajneeti happen? “My agent back in Los Angeles informed me that an Indian director was scouting for an American actor. So I met up for a three hour long breakfast with Prakash Ji. We immediately struck a note and discussed many things including politics in both the countries. Our last former president (George W Bush) did many bad things. I am a strong supporter of Barack Obama, but he needs time to show his mettle.” She refused to say much on the desi political scene expect that it is “quite complex with a large number of political parties and ideologies dotting the landscape.” But back to her casting in Rajneeti, she says “After a couple of more meetings, Prakash ji said I was on and she backed the role of Sarah, Samar Pratap’s (Ranbir Kapoor) Irish girlfriend. “This is so much different than compared to back home where we require multiple level clearances (casting director, director, studio and networks), but it’s good for me as I was chosen promptly.” She was further thankful to the producers for letting her have her own assistant, driver and makeup artist during the shooting schedule in Bhopal. “Normally such status is only granted to big stars like Tom Cruise back home”, she shares. Before Rajneeti happened, Sara like most Americans had only seen Slumdog Millionaire and Monsoon Wedding in the name of Indian films. “My first real Indian movie was Wake up Sid, and I felt that Ranbir is a very good actor. In fact, he went out of the way to make sure I was comfortable during the bold scene.” She also admitted that he is a great looker. So did he ask her out? ”No. We are just good friends,” she grins. Now are the Americans catching on to that line too? She also had a few scenes with Katrina Kaif. “I knew that she is a big Bollywood actor. We would often discuss Bollywood and American cinema. It was good fun. One major difference between the two industries I think is that Indians seem to be really star struck. People love Hollywood bigges back home too but here the intensity is much more. I was amused to see the crowds go crazy after Ranbir. A big bunch of girls wanted to kiss him! Another thing is the length of films. If American films exceed the normal running length, people groan. Personally, I have no issues, if the story is engaging enough. And I understood the concept of intermission only after watching Indian films back in the States. “ After the success of Rajneeti, Sarah sure wants to stick around. “I would so love to do one more Hindi film. I like to do all kind of films.” But obviously she will only have to play firang characters. “I can play British, French, American or any white girl’s character. I have started to learn Hindi (reading and writing) during the making of Rajneeti. Prakash Ji would make me learn Hindi swear words and have me repeat them in front of the whole unit, who would crack up. It was thoroughly embarrassing but it was all in good humour.” Another reason she’s looking for work outside the American industry is the recession. “Things were quite bad some time back, but better now. Hollywood has also been hit badly. The number of films being made has reduced, “she points out. Sarah’s trained in ballet and jazz and she loves the Bollywood song and dance routine. “I have started learning this dance form. “ Apart from films, she would love to do Indian TV too. Reality shows are interesting, but not the ones where 20 girls chase a guy!” Sarah who had been to India thrice already says, “unlike most internationals tourists, I have not yet visited the Taj Mahal or Goa. But I really enjoyed shooting in Bhopal.” She also enjoyed a home cooked meal by the mother of a non industry friend of her. “I love saag paneer and chicken tikka masala. Prakash, when he heard this, only shook his head in despair writing me off as the typical American who knows of only a couple of items on the Indian menu, besides samosa,” she laughs.
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MUMBAI EXPRESS // EXCLUSIVE
POLITICALLY INCORRECT Hard hitting and piercingly sharp, Prakash Jha is a lot like the films he makes. As he winds up the Ranjeeti business, Anil Merani gets him to spill the beans on touchy political issues…
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What do you think has worked with Rajneeti? I think it’s the story. A proper narrative well told is critical. I am thankful to all my actors and unit members for their contribution. It would be wrong to say that the film worked on just one person’s effort. It was a team game. You’ve got a huge success after a long time… Well, I am happy to have got a chance to tell a story that has been appreciated by the masses and critics alike. What’s your take on Katrina Kaif’s acting and her issues with speaking Hindi? She has always needed a performanceoriented role to establish herself as a serious player in the industry. We all know that Hindi is her weak point. Despite that, she has really worked hard on her character and even dubbed in her own voice. Will the film win the National Awards, as speculated by the media? That depends strictly on the jury. I have just worked on delivering a good film. The rest is not in my hands. Some say that the industry needed a hit badly… Yes, everybody right from the distributors to the exhibitors is happy. It is heartening to see so many people wanting to see the film a second time. The industry of late was concentrating less on scripts and more on other things. Let’s hope everybody will now get back on track! Even the work of the smaller characters like Shruti Seth and Vinay Apte has been appreciated. What’s your take? We write every character in complete detail, no matter how big or small their roles. Take Gangajal for instance; this has happened in my other films as well. Is there a message that Rajneeti is giving out? Even now I stick by my assertions I made before the release of the film. I have made a commercially entertaining film. I am not here to preach. The film tells the story of the power struggle within a political family where everybody is a terrorist in their own way. If people want to draw their own interpretations, who is stopping them? Is politics a dirty game? No, I view politics in a positive manner. The game of aya Ram gaya Ram is not for me.
I entered politics with a view to serve the people. Frankly, my funda is to mix politics with wealth generation. But can an honest and sincere person survive in politics? Agreed it will be tough for an ‘honest’ man to survive in politics, but if he has the courage of his convictions and the ability to struggle, he will surely make his mark one day. What is your definition of honesty, really? Why do you make films mostly with Bihar as a backdrop? It represents a social landscape that I fully understand. I was born there and was a part of the social churning process there, so I am better equipped to tell a tale of that state. But like in Rajneeti, I can make an effective backdrop elsewhere as well. Has Bihar got better of late? Indeed! The new regime of Nitesh Kumar is making progress on all fronts. Change is not limited to my home state; the whole country is changing as well. The last election results indicated that people now want leaders who can perform. The country is also in good stead with people like Dr Manmohan Singh at the helm of affairs. Why did you announce your retirement from electoral politics? Did losing in both your previous attempts have something to do with this? You see, I am already 56 and will be close to 60 by the time the next Lok Sabha elections come around. So I thought it would be prudent to pass on the baton to the next generation. Moreover, besides politics, I have other important things worth paying attention to. Any calls from a particular political family, regarding alleged similarities to Katrina’s character? After seeing the film, I am sure everybody will now know that there are no comparisons to Sonia Gandhi. We will need a separate film to document her struggle. I really could not understand the hoopla surrounding Katrina’s comparison with Sonia Gandhi during the prerelease. It seems people are obsessed with the Gandhi family! There were rumours that Ajay Devgan was unhappy with his role in Rajneeti… The public has appreciated his work as well, so that should answer your question. Ajay and I go back a long way. There’s still a long road ahead of us.
What about your forthcoming films? I am working on a film on woman’s reservation called Arakshan. The notion that women need empowerment is a no brainer. Many people question the efficacy of such affirmative action, but if the means employed till now were wrong (referring to the SC, ST and OBC quota system), that does not mean the ends are wrong. The film will feature a large cast, including the likes of Amitabh Bachchan and Ajay Devgan, among others. Would you ever consider doing a remake of an international film? (Smiles) No. I am happy with Indian stories just the way they are! What can ensure a successful crossover? Rajneeti has been well received all over, but in order to target a non-traditional, international audience, we need to offer an Indian story that can be appreciated by all. Why do you focus only on making films with serious subjects? Is that so? I’d like to think that all my films have lighter sides as well. I always like to comment on the contemporary social situations, like in Mrityudand. I’ll tell you this though - I will never make a slapstick film. You are also known to make hard hitting documentaries (Under the Blue, Face after Storm, Sonal, Loknayak). What’s next? I love to have a realistic take on things, but currently I am busy with my next film. It is quite sad that there is no proper market to distribute documentary films. We need dedicated channels that can air such content. And now you’ve turned producer with Turning 30, a youth film? Yes. This is chick-flick starring Gul Panag and Purab Kohli. It deals with the trials and tribulations of single women on the verge of 30. It is expected to release around August / September. But is the film within your comfort zone? I always like to make films which have a good story. The backdrop and setting can be anything. The multiplex audiences are also looking at niche films. What has been your biggest learning curve over the last few years? I don’t have the time or the inclination to look back. I’d rather look ahead.
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AISHWARYA RAI // EXCLUSIVE
MISTRESS OF CRISES
Getting to interact with one of the most beautiful and charming ladies of Bollywood was never meant to be easy. It took us at least three hours to even know that she’d do the interview. When Aishwarya Rai Bachchan finally made an appearance at Janak (one of the three Bachchan residences in Mumbai) a star struck Anil Merani loses clear thinking but manages to get us glimpses from her Raavan experience.
What was working in Raavan like? It was like shooting two films (Hindi and Tamil) together. Mani would first shoot in Hindi with me and Abhishek and then after getting the shot he wanted, would immediately ask Vikram to come in for they wanted to shoot in the same light. Sometimes when Santosh Sivan would shoot the Tamil version and they found something magical, they would ask the Hindi actors to return. I wouldn’t get time to even mentally prepare myself. It was quite challenging for me to shift to a language, which I don’t speak. I had a tough time memorising the Tamil lines, as I don’t like prompting and placards, which don’t work as well. It’s cheating! Ragini was one of the most challenging roles of my career. It was a very physical film, given the tough locales where we shot. And since I was there in both the versions, I had no rest. Many times Abhi and Vikram would jam together for a while and I would be left shooting at the water fall. Having long hair meant that they would not dry fast and I had to keep shooting even with fever occasionally. Mani really pushed me to challenge the actor within me. He would change the dialogues of the Tamil version at the last minute. Then I would scream at him the exact dialogue, which I had to throw at Beera, saying he was tormenting me. He would say, see you got it! Is it true that you and Abhi would count the number of pats you got from Mani? If Mani liked a particular scene, he would just say cut and move on to the next. As an actor, you always want to be told if your performance has been good. Having said that, Mani was very sweet and often congratulated us at the end of the day’s shoot. How was it working with Vikram? I have known Kenny for a long time (Abhi calls him Kenny sir). After my Tamil debut Iruvar (1997), I had been offered south films with him, but I could not say yes due to time
constraints. He is quite a senior compared to both Abhi and me. We both made a genuine effort on the sets not to make Vikram feel out of place due to our personal equations. I think I travelled the extra mile in the Tamil version since I didn’t want anyone to accuse me of performing better with Abhi. Which of the two versions do you like better? It would be unfair for me to comment. I have to admit though that audiences may find the Hindi version more acceptable for the simple reasons of more familiarity. Was it tough to be angry as Ragini with Abhishek as Beera? An actor should do what it takes to deliver the best performance possible. Abhi and I have worked in quite a few films even before we were married and things are not any different now, as professionals. Guru was the most interesting project as we grew older together in the film and Mani joked that he was preparing us for life. Sarkar Raj was again weird and strong given its story line. Our common journey began with Dhaai Akshar Prem Ke, where we both hammed. We had lots of fun during the making of this film and become good friends. Our equation grew stronger with Kuch Na Kaho, which took three years to make and we kept reconnecting every six months. Since you are Miss World (1994) winner, do you think that beauty pageants are a stepping stone to filmdom? I had been offered many films (Raja Hindustani, Bombay) and Subhash Ghai and Yash Raj wanted to launch me even when I was a model. I had then rejected those offers, for I wanted to become an architect. But then as luck was to have it I finally took up Iruvar, as my architecture course was some 6 months post Miss World. I have no regrets for I am very much at home in acting. I also want to clarify that the reason why I took up this Mani film as a debut was that I wanted to break conventional norms and not because that I was not getting other Hindi roles at that time. It was not your normal launch film although I got to play two characters, but the film was not all about me. Despite being a great looker, you deliberately avoid doing only glamorous roles and pick unconventional characters like Ragini… I did Dhoom 10 years after I was crowned Miss World. I have already gone through the pretty girl phase and always wanted to experiment with other facets of acting. Here I have to add that I have been lucky to have worked with directors like Mani Ratnam, Ausuthosh Gowrikar and Sanjay Leela Bhansali etc. You are among the very few Indians to have actually worked in Hollywood films. What do you say to that? Much is made about my moving to Hollywood, (The Last Legion and Pink Panther 2) but I have always maintained that I have never moved. It’s just that, if I get opportunities and my schedules allow it, I will do it. I have been quite a popular face in Cannes (Last nine years) and Berlin film festivals. I am very blessed to have such an international audience, which every actor craves for. I no longer only want to do safe films. If I do four films in a year, I want to do four very different characters.
Pic: V Rajesh
Pic: V Rajesh
TAMIL / MALAYALAM
The audio of producer P L Thenappan’s Ayyanar was released by Bharathiraja and others at Sathyam Cinemas.
Nadiya Moidu, former actress of the 1980s, whose girl-next door image worked big time with family audiences replaced Kushboo in the most popular programme Jackpot on Jaya TV.
Pic: V Rajesh
Pic: V Rajesh Pic: V Rajesh
Trisha’s love for animals is quite well-known and she showed it signing for the goodwill ambassador of PETA for the adoption of Indian dogs. She unveiled the new campaign- Love Indian dogs in Chennai
Pic: V Rajesh
Isaignani Ilayaraja, the living legend of Tamil film music celebrated his birthday with his fans and son Karthik Raja in Chennai. Bhavatharini, his daughter conducted Nothing but Wind, a grand concert coinciding with the celebrations with all leading singers taking part in it.
Kamal Haasan is doing a full length romantic role laced with comedy in his new film Manmadhan Ambu, produced by Udayanidhi Stalin which, was officially launched at AVM studios. The film also stars Madhavan, Trisha and Sangeetha in the lead.
Noted actor and danseuse Shobhana has adopted a baby girl. The naming ceremony of Ananthanarayani, the six-month-old baby girl was held at the famous Sri Krishna Temple in Guruvayoor. JULY’10 SOUTHSCOPE 53
Good It is technically the finest movie made in recent times with superb camerawork and never seen before stunning locales of India.
The running time of 2 hours and 10 minutes is a major plus for the film and editing by Sreekar Prasad is crisp.
Vikram, Aishwarya Rai, Prithviraj, Prabhu and Karthik have done their best and are the silver lining of the film.
: Vikram, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Prthviraj
Director : Mani Ratnam Music
: A R Rahman
Could have been better... Raavanan does not satisfy an average film-goer, taking into consideration the enormous hype it generated as a Mani Ratnam film.
Mani’s choice of lush green locales that fit in with the realistic sets and props erected by art director Samir Chanda, is mind blowing.
The fight between Vikram and Prithviraj on the bridge is extraordinary, with picture perfect top angle shots.
Armed with the film’s best-written role, Aishwarya Rai has made a sensational comeback as Ragini and Rohini’s dubbing for her character is good. Mani has succeeded in making us look beyond her beauty and see the actor in her.
Prithviraj looks wooden at times but is the ideal foil for Vikram. His subtle showdown with Aishwarya in the train is remarkable.
The film lacks Tamil nativity or flavour and is nowhere in the league of Mani Ratnam’s classics of the 80s and 90s. In the process of making the same film in two languages, with a different cast, the end product falls between two stools. Mani Ratnam is better off doing straight Tamil ventures than making such hybrid variety of films. Suhasini’s dialogues are oddly theatrical. A conventional screenplay makes the film painfully dull and fails to engage at any level.
There are no twists and turns as this revenge story is devoid of meat. The narration is slow and predictable.
The background score is about average and A R Rahman delivers his most uninspired score in years.
- Vinayak S 54 SOUTHSCOPE JULY’10
: Abhishek Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Vikram, Priyamani, Govinda, Ravi Kishan
Director : Mani Ratnam Music
Good Santhosh Sivan’s cinematography. The visuals are stunning. What else do we say about Santhosh Sivan?
Abhishek Bachchan’s makeup. It’s the only thing that makes Beera look at least a tad psychotic. Forget menacing, though.
Aishwarya’s anarkalis. But whatever happened to Sabyasachi Mukherjee when he styled her in the saris. The blouses were awfully cut!
The music of course. Rahman not at his very best, but Rahman is always enjoyable.
The performances of Priyamani and Ravi Kishan.
: A R Rahman
Could have been better... A whole lot of things. The screenplay to begin with? Somewhere in the presentation, the content or story was sort of lost.
More powerful performances by Abhi and Ash.
Why was Vikram (who is otherwise so hot) made to look so not happening? He actually looks like he can do with some serious dieting and a run at the gym in the film. The round looking face and that moustache and the jiggly jaw were so not Vikram.
What was Govinda doing there that perhaps Rajpal Yadav couldn’t? His character wasn’t even given any kind of clear closure.
Why was Ash looking so comfortable and at home in the forest and around Abhi especially, when she was supposed to be in a life threatening situation? She was kidnapped, for heaven’s sake!
- Mona Ramavat JULY’10 SOUTHSCOPE 55
NEIL DOWN! Showbiz is so iffy folks. One day you’re up and the very next god-knows-where. Look at Neil Nitin Mukesh! The grandson of the legendary singer Mukesh was on a high with Johnny Gaddar and New York and then Jail put him behind the docks. We were just beginning to wonder where he has disappeared when a little birdie whispered that he has been busy speculating in the stock market along with his father Nitin Mukesh. On the film front, Neil is now banking solely on Saat Khoon Maaf. How it will restore his filmi career is anybody’s guess considering the fact that he plays Priyanka Chopra’s youngest husband in the film. Let’s hope you hit the bull’s eye at least in the stock market Neil! Whatever happens, just hang in there. Your number will come too.
WHAT’S HAPPENING TO SAMEERA REDDY? Sameera Reddy seems to be out of sync with reality for she still is justifying violence in the name of naxalism. In the film Red Alert, she is playing a raped girl who becomes a naxalite. According to her, poor oppressed people have no alternative but to take to arms. This is not done for you cannot condone talking innocent lives just to justify your character who she believes is white. She also went on to say that even Osama Bin Laden has his reasons however wrong he may be. Her last project, the 15 min short film on AIDS called Migration garnered poor response. Let’s hope this serious film does something to her career.
MAD ABOUT YOU… Madhavan seems to be an honest guy for he has gone on record to admit that he finds shooting song sequences wearing garish colored clothes quite funny. This Tamil actor, who tasted big success in Mumbai with 3 Idiots, is now returning to his first love, TV. He will anchor a game show called Big Money on Imagine TV. He apparently finds TV hosting more comfortable, than running around trees “especially in foreign lands where the natives look at you, as if you have lost it!” Madhavan had earlier done famous TV soaps Banegi Apni Baat and Ghar Jamai before moving on to Tamil films. But we hope his second TV innings gives him a better deal than his earlier game show Deal Ya No Deal. Go for it Maddy. We are with you.
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ROYALLY JACKED! Some time back Minissha Lamba cried hoarse that journalist turned actor, Anant Naryan, was using her for getting publicity. But now it’s blue blooded Anant’s (Prince of Barah) turn to lash back. The actor who is doing a Bengali film, Anirban was heard bragging about his lineage, saying that she was nothing compared to him. His father Aditya Narayan is reportedly a corporate honcho. Obviously, he is miffed with Minisha for not even bothering to clear the air with him. Instead, she went to town lambasting Anant in print which, he feels, was in bad taste. According to sources, he hated the fact that he was made out to be some kind of a wannabe desperate to get linked to starlets. Anant is now ready to start a home production for which he has set his sights on Sonam Kapoor, no less. A source close to him also squealed that he may just work in a film with the senior Bachchan. We have no clue if all this is true but if it is, poor Minisha may just have to eat her own words. Tch Tch…
WHAT’S GOIN’ ON SAMEER? If Sameer Dattani thought I Hate Luv Storys will make his six year Bollywood journey worth it, he seems to be sadly mistaken. Though he claims to be a part of the love triangle with Imran Khan and Sonam Kapoor, he doesn’t feature anywhere in the early promos. This south Mumbai dude who debuted with Uff Kya Jaadoo Mohabbat Hai in 2004 earned some sort of recognition with Mukhbir in which he played the lead role of a police informer. To his bad luck though, the film did not do well mostly due to poor marketing. His last film, Well Done Abba too remained restricted to the film festival circuit. Next Sameer has an untitled horror flick coming up. Oh no!
MANOJ IS FINALLY REDEEMED Manoj Bajpai who has finally tasted success after a long time with Rajneeti has a major axe to grind with distribution and marketing strategists. He blames them for the debacle of his other film, Acid Factory. According to him, his role was as magnetic and charismatic as his duryodhan avatar in Rajneeti but because it was badly promoted, nobody saw it. “Those who don’t believe me must catch it on the DVD.” Ask him about the debacle of Jail and the hurt is evident. “Had this Madhur Bhandarkar film and Acid factory become hits, Rajneeti would not have been labeled as my come back. I had a real tough role in Jail as it was not supported by dialogues.” JULY’10 SOUTHSCOPE 57
PITT’S POT-SHOT FOR PRESIDENT Looks like Brad Pitt wants to make a bid for the White House. Of course, Angelina Jolie will be by his side. But don’t hold your breath yet. The grapevine suggests that the do-gooder – actor wants to change the world by entering politics. At the moment, Brad is gearing up for a run for Senate. If all goes well, he’ll mount a bid to become President in 2016. But what’s his agenda exactly? Turns out it’s legalising marijuana, of all things! Brad apparently believes that the move will bring in lots of moolah for the government, as revenue. If Brad’s master plan actually falls into place, it would be ‘high’ times in Washington DC!
KATHERINE IS AN IMMORTAL Katherine Heigl is ready to live forever, in a filmy sense, that is. Her next film is all about preserving her beauty forever, on screen. The former Grey’s Anatomy star recently inked a deal to play the lead in The Age of Adaline, in which she’ll play a woman who never ages, due to an accident. The romantic story would chart how she has to give up her immortality for love. While cameras will start rolling in October, producers are still scouting for a director and a male lead. Sounds like a case of ever after, this film.
MARIAH ALL SET TO BE A MOM! Mariah Carey badly wants to be a mother. So badly, that she’s busy popping hormone pills and going through fertility treatment at Los Angeles. Her rapper-hubbie Nick Cannon is totally on board with her. The grapevine has it that both performers are willing to put their careers on hold for the sake of children. Mariah was also reportedly heard saying that for once, she would love to have a nice, normal life – the diaper changing variety.
OPRAH’S LAST WORDS… You heard that right, folks. The queen of talk show television is set to shut shop, for good. In an announcement by Oprah herself, she said that her last episode will air in September 2011. While there have been a flock of newer faces in the circuit, none could really match up to the one who started it all in the early 80s. Guess celebrity A listers will have less heart to heart moments on live TV, now that the talk show baroness has decided to start winding up. We’ll certainly miss Oprah. 58 SOUTHSCOPE JULY’10
EMMA WATSON: NOT NAKED Looks like Emma Watson’s in a heap of legal formalities. It all started when pictures of her stark naked surfaced online. But of course, you would not want to mess with this wizard! Now, armed to the hilt with a team of lawyers, Emma is set to go after the perverts who posted the fake photos on the internet. Her representatives were quick to clarify that the scandalous image is a fraud. With her earnings touching the 20 million Pounds mark, Watson has enough monies to legally crush the rogue photoshopper in question.
MEGAN’S MARRIAGE MURMURS Although Megan Fox has now been dumped by the Transformers franchise, she’s hit it off really well with on-and-off boyfriend Brian Austin Green. This time it looks like the couple are very much in love and could be tying the knot very soon. Apparently the two celebrated Megan’s 24th birthday together and have been getting very cuddly in public. We even hear they have moved in together at Megan’s new house for some time now. Let’s see what else we hear.
BRITNEY SPEARS IS NUMBER ONE On Twitter, that is! The troubled pop icon still has a huge fan base. Her latest accomplishment sees her stealing the spotlight from actor Ashton Kutcher, who has been hogging the number one position for most popular person on Twitter. Britney can now boast of nearly five million online followers. Ashton apparently did not really mind getting dethroned for the sometime queen of pop. Or maybe he’s just a wee bit jealous.
TARANTINO IS NOT INVOLVED! We all know Quentin Tarantino and his crazy filmmaking ways. But the buzz doing the rounds is that the ace director will not be work on the prequel to his classic film, Jackie Brown, which finds the younger version of Samuel L Jackson’s character, Ordell Robbie and Robert De Niro’s Louis Gara becoming friends in prison. While Tarantino has given the project his blessing, no studio has yet been approached to make the film. Guess uncertainty is a part of everything Tarantino gets involved in, and even some he does not! JULY’10 SOUTHSCOPE 59
LOOKING BACK // TAMIL Cast: Cast: Mohan, Karthik, NTR,Revathy, SV Ranga Rao, CSR, Relangi, V K Ramasamy Padmanabham and Malathi
Director Mani Ratnam
Film: Mouna Raagam
Producer: G Venkateswaran
Year of release: 1951
Pavithra Srinivasan digs through the Tamil classics of the 70s to rediscover the touching romance of Mouna Raagam For decades, Tamil cinema subsisted on melodrama and superbly crafted sentimental fare. Witness the many stirring dramas and emotional scenes that have made up so many of our greatest stories. And yet, such genres thrived because they had great talent to justify; others that tried to follow with lesser panache, fall flat. Something of the kind happened, after the glorious 50s and 60s, in the industry. Yes, there were many New Age films that broke the rule in the 70s, but these were tapering off, swiftly being replaced by cornball romances and cheesy dialogues with clichéd storylines. Until Mouna Raagam (meaning silent symphony) happened, that is. Mani Ratnam like the others, chose the same plots: romance, or the tales of an ordinary man, or even two brothers. Yet, he managed to make these everyday plots stand out and how! Add to that his choice of music, camerawork, editing etc. Mouna Raagam was based on a theme that was old as the hills: marriage. But nothing about this film was clichéd. Divya (Revathy) is your typical girl-next-door, albeit brighter and more cheerful than average. She runs in the rain, skips about with an umbrella and is generally the ‘bad girl’ of the house. She gets up late and plays pranks on her siblings. One day, though, a shock awaits her when she gets back home: people have arrived for a bride-seeing ceremony. The wealthy groom, Chandrakumar (Mohan), falls for Divya the moment he sees her. The girl doesn’t respond to this magnificent honey-fall the way her family expects her to, standing sari clad, morosely mutinous. At the first chance she gets, Divya asks Chandrakumar to reject her. She doesn’t want to get married. In typical 80s style of male chivalry (or chauvinism), Chandrakumar smiles indulgently and tells his people that Divya is the girl of his choice. She rebels. Her father gets a heart attack and thanks to some emotional blackmail, she is married off hotfoot. Divya’s frustrated by what she perceives as Chandrakumar’s betrayal. “I told you to reject me – why did you marry me?” she asks, tearful and furious, on the first night. Chandrakumar explains that he fell for her expressive face and that her rejection didn’t matter to him. Then begins a cold war which ends up chilling them both. Chandrakumar tries everything he can to win her over with his 60 SOUTHSCOPE JULY’10
charm, sweetness and gifts. But all Divya wants is a divorce. No one but she knows the real reason for her behaviour. An innocent love affair in college with the happy-go-lucky Manohar (Karthik) still reigns in her heart, along with heart-wrenching anguish. Viewers were pleasantly intrigued by Revathy who, with her wide eyes, soft features and playful expressions portrayed a mischievous girl and mutinous wife so well that she left a lasting impression. Mohan’s portrayal of a mild-mannered young man who desperately wants his wife to love him was light years beyond his usual mass appeal. As for the peppy Karthik – who could forget his ebullience and enthusiastic ‘Mr Chandrmouli!’ during his days as Revathy’s lover? The flashback sequences that unravel the tale of his love and its tragic end formed a story that’s a part of film lore; eternal love stories that are so touching that they’re legend. And then, there was the climax. Spun with tendrils of maestro Ilaiyaraja’s delicate music – his Manram Vandha Thednral, Nilave Vaa, Oho Megham Vandadho became classics – and P C Sriram’s ethereal camera-work made Mouna Raagam a true Indian classic. The movie smashed many records. It rewrote the careers of Revathy, Karthik and Mohan and showed how well they could perform in such diverse roles. Ilaiyaraja’s wonderful, sensitive music showcased an urban side of him that his rural outings hadn’t yet brought out. The technical crew that presented a polished, realistic film years ahead of its time. But most importantly, a director who could visualise romance that wasn’t overly sweet, write dialogues that weren’t clichéd but made your heart ache and produce characters that came alive, and made you interested in their eventual fates.
karaoke // tamil
BALE PANDIYA Music: Devan Ekambaram Singers: Haricharan, Devan Ekambaram, Naresh Iyer, Naveen Madhav, Paravai Muniyamma, Malayasia Vasudevan, Ranjith, Aalaap Raju, Raqueeb Alam, Anuradha Sriram, Srinivas, Velumurugan, Manikka Vinayagam, Mukesh, Malgudi Shuba, Divya Vijay, Anitha, Suchitra Karthik, Vijay Yesudas and Rahul Nambiar Kannodu illaye kanneril thivalaigal Happy indru mudhal happy Nenjodu illaye naan konda kavalaigal Endrumey happy Unakku Edhu sari adhai anusari Dhinasari happy Oho alaiparavai pole naan Happy so happy Vaan veliyin melay naan Happy ayyo happy Hey, hey, hey chudidhar nilavu Suguna-va pidichutta Happy ayya romba happy Pidichutten paathiyaa Tasmac kadayile timing-a korachachu Happy! yov veetukku vaayya En voodu happy Irukkindra varai ilamayin mazhai Dhinam dhinam happy Super star padathu first show Tickettu happy kanna happy Ram Rahim naanga thaan Endrume ondru thaan Happy naanga happy Aduthathu maamaa thaan Oozhalla mattinduttaar Happy nekku romba happy - yenna Ponga maami En IT company problethula sikkala Happy sathyama happy Hey erinaalum enna Eranginaalum enna Enakku enna happy Azukkile kulikkiren En pulla padikka thaan Happy naina happy Hollywood-a kollywood-a Naan thodatha nadigaya Happy machi happy Hey tensiongal edharkku Pensionkal koduthidu Happy aaha happy Dress code illiye Ishtam potta-aadalam
Happy Chance-ay illadi Super-o happy En boyfriend credit card Koduthirukkan shopping polaam Kanda kanda padi Thallu thallu padi Kanna pinna happy Ooru sanam vambula thaan Naan pudichen pozhappu thaan Happy simbly happy Buziness adi poli Petrol venaam Diesel venaam En vandiye ozhaple thaan Happy what a happy Enakku Enna bayama Edhir neechal adippavan Happy jeyuchu vida happy Ennoda kanakkai Nnaan thaaney mudippavan Happy rombave happy Ninaikindra thadam Nadakkattum manam Piragena happy Happy, happy, happy Budhi Ellam kaiyile thaan Santhosham payyile thaan Happy lets be happy Inbangalo thunbangalo Ellamey Onnu thaan Happy come on happy Vaanam Happy Boomi Happy Pookkal Happy Eekkal Happy Nadhigal Happy Neengal Happy Marangal Happy Palagai Happy Kudisai Happy Kovil Happy Amma Happy Kuzhandai Happy Neeyum Happy Naanum Happy I Am So Happy JULY’10 SOUTHSCOPE 61
After completing BDS and working part-time as a dentist, Peeyush Ranjan got excited about modelling when his friends sort of pushed him into it. And ever since there has been no looking back. He did a few print ads some TV commercials too after a modeling and grooming course with M S Sridhar at Bengaluru. He enjoys jiving and salsa besides playing chess and biking.
Southscope invites aspiring actors to send in their portfolio pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org
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LEAVES OUT OF MY BOOK >> Suhasini Maniratnam
Actor extraordinaire Suhasini Maniratnam turns columnist to share her personal diary exclusively with Southscope readers.
EAT, DRINK, BREATHE FILMS Films were always a fascinating phenomenon in my life not because there are at least five people who are working closely within the film industry from our family, but because we love watching films. When other grandfathers used to sit on an easy chair and watch grandchildren do their home work, my grandfather used to make sure we were ready at six pm in the evening to watch a film at our village cinema every single day. Ravi, Shanthi and Jaihind were the three cinemas in our town. Every movie played only for three days in the cinema and by the time we finished seeing all the three films, the new ones would already have come in the three cinemas. I loved movies but I hated the climax of every film. Not because climaxes are dramatic but they meant that the film was coming to an end. I did not want films to end at all. Even today, I want them to go on and on and on. Films are almost like sleep. There are days when you do not want the day to begin and the sleep to end. People like me dream of days when films continue and reality does not exist.
Today, I have decided to write about films. We Indians have survived several famines, floods and droughts, but cannot imagine life without cinema. When one is driving through a new town in south India, it is quite amazing to watch people either waiting to buy tickets for a film or when they are coming out after seeing a film. While they wait, they are enthusiastic, eager about the film. Watch them as they come out of the cinema. They are discussing the movie. Else, they are quietly nourishing the lingering effect of the movie. There are no bad movies and good movies. There are only movies that you either like very much or movies that you like very little. Here’s a list of must watch films of all times: 1. Bicycle Thieves, an Italian film by Vittoria de Sica 2. Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali 3. Three colour Blue by Krzysztof Kieslowski 4. Punnagai by K Balachander 5. Nayakan by Manirathnam We shall discuss what makes these films special soon. Till then happy breathing, eating, sleeping, living films…
We had a tradition of discussing films in our family. My uncle Chandrahaasan would have seen a new film in Madurai and all of us would gather around him to listen to the story with the dialogues as it would take another month for the new movie to reach our village. Later on, when we moved to Chennai, again our uncle Kamal would narrate new film stories to us with the harmonica. He would render the dialogues and the silent portions used be filled by the scary music from the harmonica. Some times, he would also play the chenda to add to the drama. The first film that was narrated to us was a Tamil film called Uyir, a suspense thriller. It was the scariest movie I have ever been narrated. But years later I learnt that Kamal did not see that movie at all. He just made it up to keep us engrossed! The story, dialogues, the music –all imagined by him. That was the first time I realised that one can make up movies, not necessarily with the camera and in the studios but an entire movie can be created in your mind. I remember my younger sister’s parting lines when she was catching a train for north India as a bride. She took me aside and said, “Do not eat-breathe-talk-sleep films. Just enjoy films.” I did say yes to her but I am sure I continue to eat, breathe and sleep films.
JULY’10 SOUTHSCOPE 63
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
Happy rains are here again! Everybody is reeling under the monsoon magic in most parts of the country. After getting baked in sweltering heat, it’s time to soak in the beauty of rain drops. Ah, life is splendid in all its seasons. Obviously, we had to do something with our July issue to reflect the mood. So we thought and thought and finally decided to do an encore. Especially for all our female readers who’ve been bugging us for a visual feast. After offering two most delectable men on south cinema screen Venky and Suriya, we are following up with yet another double delight. Puneet Rajkumar, the power star of Kannada cinema and the power house performer Vikram on the covers. So ladies and girls, go ahead, have your fill. And croon ‘it’s raining men’, if you so wish. But don’t you dare complain of an overdose. We really had to move earth and heaven to make it happen for you. But then whatever we do is always for you. You know what the best part of our journey so far has been. Your uninhibited expression of wholehearted acceptance, respect and pats on our back that reach us through various forms of communication. I had almost forgotten how it feels to receive good old post cards, inland letters and hand written letters sealed in postal covers. Until some of you decided it was time for us to revisit nostalgia. Words are neither sufficient nor efficient to express how touched and moved all of us at Southscope are. We were shooting in the dark. Thank you for letting us know we’ve hit the target. Thank you for being the light that guides us, encourages us and eggs us on to push our boundaries. It’s almost unreal how our readers are making huge efforts to show us their love. Emails are still okay but they’re actually using their precious time to design scrap books like good old school days splashing their favourite covers, articles and trivia about almost every single issue of Southscope, sealing them in and posting them to us. We’re overwhelmed. At the same time, it’s put additional pressure on us to up our ante. We’re trying and hope we can retain your love for Southscope. Because that’s what keeps us alive and buzzing. In this issue, we’ve got a few more special attractions lined up for you. Actors Aishwarya Rai, Shriya Saran, Jagapathi Babu, Hari Priya, music director Arjun to name just a few. I won’t go on and on about the various personalities and films we’ve featured like I usually do in this space. All I wish to say is that we’ve worked on a good mix of south movie masala with the right spices and seasoning. You will find it sweet, tangy, rejuvenating and hot depending on the dish you taste. That’s what we call south on a platter. Enjoy! Keep coming back to us for more. Don’t get satiated. No, not yet. Not ever. Adios Amigos. Until next month…
Vanaja Banagiri Editor-in-Chief
She’s affable and full of energy, which makes Radhika Apte instantly likeable. For those of us who missed her acting debut, Wah Life Ho To Aisi, there will be plenty to make up for in Ram Gopal Verma’s forthcoming Rakta Charitra in which Radhika is playing the female lead. With a strong background in theatre, acting now comes easily to Radhika who was born in Belur and raised in Pune and went to Mumbai with no godfathers in the industry. For her latest project, all she needed was a call from Ramu’s assistant director who happened to see her pictures by chance. The rest, she tells Vrinda Prasad.
RADHIKA APTE WITH
When did you discover your interest for acting? I got into theatre when I was in college and then I looked for opportunities to develop my acting skills. I joined a theatre group called Aasakta Group in Pune and have ever since taken up acting more seriously. Was it tough working with RGV? He is a person with immense clarity and is the most straightforward man I’ve met. His work matters the most to him. Guess you need a lot of focus to be able to work with him. I don’t know if I’ll ever fall into the league of his heroines, but I’ll work with him only if I like the script and if I can relate to the character. Won’t do anything for the heck of it! Where do you see yourself five years from now? Don’t see myself five days down; five years seems too long. Let’s see how it goes. What about the stories of your link-up with Vivek Oberoi? They are just rumours, no point wasting time on it. Vivek is extremely friendly and sweet. We would discuss scenes and also learn Telugu/Tamil together! (smiles) Are you familiar with southern cinema and the south film industry? I have watched only two southern movies - Pokiri and Ek Niranjan in Telugu. And, now catching up on some Tamil and Malayalam films.
LOOKING BACK // TELUGU Cast: NTR, S V Ranga Rao, CSR, Relangi, Padmanabham and Malathi
Director: K V Reddy
Year of release: 1951
Film: Pathala Bhairavi
Producer: Nagireddi, Chakrapani
Special effects in the early 50s were not only futuristic but somewhat unimaginable. But Pathala Bhairavi went surging ahead of its times and became an unmatchable cinematic milestone. Hemanth Kumar takes us down memory lane…
Every now and then, there comes a film which takes an entire generation by storm. Such films have stood the test of time and are still revered as awe inspiring. One of the first few films in Telugu cinema’s history to have attained this cult status was K V Reddy’s Pathala Bhairavi. The year was 1951. The film brought together some of the finest actors and technicians who went on to become icons. NTR, SV Ranga Rao, CSR, Relangi, Padmanabham and Malathi had begun their careers a few years ago. And then Pathala Bhairavi happened, which was the turning point for them. K V Reddy had already made his presence felt as a director with films like Bhakta Potana, Yogi Vemana and Gunasundari Katha. One of the biggest production houses back then, Vijaya Pictures produced the film with Nagireddi, Chakrapani at the helm of affairs. Marcus Bartley, a well-known cinematographer of those times, took up the project and Pingali Nagendra Rao wrote the story, dialogues and lyrics. The film’s production took almost a year and it was released on 15 March, 1951. It was an instant hit with the audience that was bowled over by the stellar performances and technical brilliance of this folklore. Some say the film was inspired from Kasi Majili Kathalu and others believe that it was an adaptation from the tale of Aladdin in Arabian Nights. Pathala Bhairavi is the story of Thota Ramudu, a gardener at the royal palace in the kingdom of Ujjain. He falls in love with princess Indumathi and when the king finds out, he challenges Thota Ramudu to seek riches and only then he could marry the princess. He meets Nepala Mantrikudu who promises Thota Ramudu all the riches he seeks, but with conditions. Eventually, Nepala Mantrikudu’s plan to seek the divine blessings of goddess Pathala Bhairavi fails, but he doesn’t give up. How Thota Ramudu keeps up at it despite all evils to win Indumathi’s heart is the rest of the story of this technical marvel.
into a frenzy across cinema halls. S V Ranga Rao’s performance as Nepala Mantrikudu, especially his signature lines like Saahasam Cheyyara Dimbhaka was unmatchable. Pathala Bhairavi is one of those rare films which seemed to have got everything in its favour right from its inception. The film ran for 100 days in 28 centres which was never heard of in the Telugu film industry. It was also the only south Indian film to have been officially selected for the International Film Festival in 1952. Later on, it strengthened and gave a new lease of life to folklore and mythological films to be spawned in Telugu cinema. Mayabazar was one such film which brought together all the stalwarts who worked in Pathala Bhairavi along with ANR and Savitri. Almost 43 years later, Chandamama Vijaya Combines made a film Bhairava Dweepam in 1994. The film starring Balakrishna was directed by Singeetham Srinivasa Rao and it was inspired from Pathala Bhairavi. Till this day, the critics and audience alike are mesmerised by the special effects in Pathala Bhairavi, which was much ahead of its time. It comes as no surprise that quite a few filmmakers have aspired to remake this classic and add more splendour for the contemporary audience.
Ghantasala’s music along with Pingali Nagendra Rao’s lyrics was quite a sensation. The songs Kalavaramaye madhilo, Enta ghaatu premayo and Prema Kosamai Valalo Padine Pasivadu…rendered by Ghantasala, P Leela and VJ Varma are popular even after six decades. Dialogues by Pingalo Nagendra Rao sent the audience