Watching a film at Fame Thakur Movies the other day when the slide asking one to guess Sanjeev Kumar’s real name was displayed on screen. Overheard two youngsters behind me in response,
Youngster 1: Yeh, Sanjeev Kumar kaun hai? (Who is this Sanjeev Kumar)
Youngster 2: Yaar, shayad us film mein Thakur tha…(Maybe he played the Thakur in that film…)
Youngster 1: Haan, mujhe lagta hai maybe wohi hai…Kya naam tha us film ka? (Yeah, I think that was him. What was the name of that film?)
It made me realize that Sholay (1975) is now over 34 years old!
Was given an explanation of the psyche of the Telugu commercial film the other day from a fellow FTIIan from Andhra Pradesh after I told him I quite enjoyed Magadheera (2009). Simple, straightforward and to the point.
Take a local hero, preferably keep him with his moustache.
First choice, get a gori-chitti heroine from North. She should be treated as a sex object, who is ultimately tamed by the hero, falls in love with him and toes the line according to his wishes.
The villain has to be North Indian who gets beaten up by local hero.
I thought about it. Who are amongst the top heroines there in Tollywood? Bhumika Chawla, Genelia D’Souza, Ileana D’Cruz, Kajal Aggarwal…
And villains? Sayaji Shinde, Pradeep Rawat, Ashish Vidyarthy, Mukesh Rishi, Rahul Dev…
Quite a take on the North-South divide, this.
Does super success make an actor insecure to experiment anymore and instead stick to tried and tested waters? SRK, for one, is very comfortable today within his Yashraj Films, Dharma Productions, Farah Khan clique… Long gone are the days where he’d do a Kabhi Haa Kabhi Naa with a Kundan Shah or an Idiot with a Mani Kaul.
And as I’ve discovered Tamil cinema of the last 8-9 years and been very impressed by the work in Chennai (Hindi cinema could well take a much needed lesson from here), have also discovered what a fine actor-star Tamil filmdom has in Suriya. As the strong, silent cop in Kaakha Kaakha (2003), the polio affected, buck-toothed hunchback in Perazhagan (2004) or the father (from his college days in the 1960s till he is 64) and son (from 17 to his 30s) in Vaaranam Aayiram (2008), he is simply outstanding. What’s more, these films, though made within the mainstream format, had a certain logic and sensibility behind them.
With the super success of Ayan (2009), he is undoubtedly No 1 in Tamil cinema today (Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth are a different entity altogether). And today when he is in a state where he can pick and choose and do what he wants to, he chooses safe directors – ‘Minimum Guarantee’ KS Ravikumar (Aadhavan (2009)) and Hari (Singam (2010)) of the blockbuster variety as now the stakes are clearly too high and every film must be that big blockbuster. Death of the actor at the cost of the star?
Last but not the least, another sign of our times. A fellow filmmaker was trying to explain to one of his young assistant directors who Raj Kapoor was. He was getting nowhere explaining to her about the golden age of Indian cinema, the 1950s or asking her if she had seen Raj Kapoor’s masterpieces such as Awaara (1951) or Shree 420 (1955), which of course she hadn’t. He finally got through to her when he explained to her that Raj Kapoor was Kareena Kapoor’s grandfather. Her eyes lit up in recognition!