March 31, 2001


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Anil KumbleAnil Kumble

Considering how popular the sport is, one would think movie makers would have seized on its mass appeal before. Then again, the 'better late than never' theory applies here, as in other walks of life.

The news is that cricket-related films are in the air -- or more appropriately, on the floors.

Rajiv Menon For one, Rajiv Kandukondain Kandukondain Menon is busy with preproduction work on a film that tells the tale of the relationship between a cricketer and a handicapped child.lynn,

And though the film, at this point, is still in the scripting stage -- Menon was observed, during the recent cricket camp in Chennai prior to the India-Australia series, spending quality time at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, making notes -- the buzz is that good friend Anil Kumble will play a key role in the film.

Cricket's in the air!

Meanwhile, Raju Sundaram is slated to don white flannels, and play the part of a cricketer in I love You Da (I love you Ra is the title of the Telugu version).

One way of introducing Raju Sundaram is he is Prabhu Deva's brother. A more appropriate one is as a dance choreographer of considerable repute. It will also be recalled that Sundaram played Aishwarya Rai's brother in Shankar's Jeans.

In the film, Sundaram's onscreen girlfriend will be Simran -- who is his lady love in real life as well.

The film has Sundaram playing a national cricketer. His girlfriend doesn't much care for the game, but later takes to it simply because she is in love with the cricketer.

The film will be directed by debutant C Rajadurai, and will also star Prakash Rai (Raj, to Tamil audiences) and Raghuvaran.

Simran Rajadurai, incidentally, is the erstwhile assistant of Manoj Kumar, who made the moderately successful Vanavil, starring Arjun, Prakash Rai and Abhirami.

Another of Manoj Kumar's films is Bava Bavamaridi (Telugu).

The film will be shot in and around cricket grounds in India's various metros and, as usual, will shift to exotic locations when the hero and heroine feel the urge to break into song.

A little hook for the audiences is that a couple of national cricket stars are also likely to star in the film, with one of them even singing a song in his own voice. No names for now, though -- the filmmakers are awaiting the Board of Control for Cricket in India's permission.

Kamal's spinning a dream...

Meanwhile, for trivia buffs, this: Quite a while ago, a television programme featured an episode wherein Sunil Gavaskar, then at the height of his cricketing pomp, was introduced by Kamal Haasan, then the reigning superstar in Tamil films.

In course of that conversation, Kamal mentioned that it was his long-standing dream to make a cricket-related film. Wonder what ever happened to that one!

A touch of blue

There was a time when Malayalam -- more accurately, Malayalam movies -- was synonymous with sleaze.

Not, mind you, that films in that language during the period in question -- late Seventies and early Eighties -- were blue around the edges.

What happened was that during that period, Malayalam moviemakers showed a willingness to explore adult themes. Like for instance the life and times of a prostitute in Avalude Rathrigal; a father-in-law's forbidden feelings towards his daughter-in-law in Mazhu, etc.

There were also films like Rathi Nirvedam, wherein skin show was used to spice up adult themes.

These films found a market in the neighbouring states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu and, in course of time, exhibitors hit upon the trick of inserting true blue pornographic clips at appropriate places, to add some sizzle to the steak.

And this, in turn, gave Malayalam movies an image that stuck with it for a while.

Till the likes of Priyadarshan, Joshi, Satyan Anthikad, Padmarajan, Bharatan et al came along and turned the spotlight back on classy storytelling and good acting. Shakeela The wheel is apparently turning full circle again, with the advent of Shakeela, a bombshell of Andhraite origin now ruling the Malayalam industry.

Shakeela hit the headlines with Kameshwari, and followed up with a series of films that, in their dubbed versions, are busting the box office down South.

Rathi Devi is one such recent film of hers. In it, she falls in love with a painter and marries him. He goes off to Delhi for an art exhibition. And in his absence, the wife has an affair with the servant boy, leading to various complications.

Vijay Menon plays the husband to Shakeela's wife. The story is penned by Sai Ramesh, and is directed by R J Prasad (whose credits also include Kameshwari), and will also be dubbed in Tamil.

Another Shakeela outing has her playing the owner of a driving school, who occasionally doubles up as instructor. Besides a driving school, she also has a lover -- and complications ensue.

This one is called Premeshwari. Its Tamil version will be called Driving School.

Again, the story and script is credited to Sai Ramesh, while Mohan plays the male lead in this one.

Then there is Mami -- written by who else but Sai Ramesh, and starring Shakeela alongside Satish Kumar and Sowmya.

The story is believed to be inspired by Raasa Leela, a Kamal Haasan film with a soft-porn undercurrent made during that earlier period when Malayalam films had acquired a tinge of blue.

Add to the list Viagra (Pranaya Marmam, in the original Malayalam). It stars Bindu, Raghaav, Kamini and others, and is directed by Sasi Mullachery.

The storyline revolves around an old man, who asks his son in the United States to send him some desperately needed and locally unobtainable medicines. By accident, what the son sends is a pack of Viagra.

Do you need to be told the rest?

The decent dubbing game

Azaad All that of course is not to say that only sleazy films are being dubbed. An example of the other kind is Azaad (Telugu), directed by Tirupathisswamy and starring Nagarjun, Soundarya and Shilpa Shetty.

The film was moderately successful in the original version, and is now being readied for a Tamil avatar under the name Kurukshetram.

The story comes from Maharajan who, you will recall, had a superhit with the Tamil Vallarasu, starring Vijaykant.

Music is credited to Mani Sharma, AP's latest rage. Also starring, Prakash Raj (or Rai, as you like), Raghuvaran and Sujita.

Not quite a cover-up!

Still on dubbing, there is Cover Story, the Malayalam thriller now being dubbed in Tamil under the same name.

Cover Story With the success of Deena, Suresh Gopi seems to have gained acceptance by the Tamil audience. While Tabu, who costarred with Gopi in Cover Story, is, in any case, a familiar and accepted face on the Tamil marquee.

The original was released in November 2000 in Kerala, and did just slightly more than average business. Directed by G S Vijay, Cover Story also stars Biju Menon and Nedumudi Venu.

In the film, Tabu plays a computer programmer with a vision impairment -- she is almost blind without her lenses. It happens that she is lenseless at just the moment when a murder takes place.

She is in fact the only eyewitness. Problem being, what her eyes witnessed is just an indistinct blur. Suresh Gopi plays a hard-hitting television station owner and reporter. And there is a terrific twist to the tale thrown in.

Luck comes in twos!

From dubbed films to double roles -- and Badri sees Vijay in a double role for the first time.

Vijay's rivals at the top of the Tamil Nadu totem pole -- Ajith and Prashanth -- have already done doubles, in Vaalee and Jeans respectively, with Ajith preparing to go even better when he plays nine roles in the underproduction Citizen.

Vijay, whose recent hits include Khushee and Priyamanavale, finally joins the gang in a film that sees him play a timid character in one avatar and the smouldering hunk of machismo in the other. Badri

Martial arts expert Shihani Hussaini -- who, among other things, also runs an outfit providing security to top line filmmakers such as Kamal Haasan and Shankar -- recently supervised action scenes for this film which had Vijay parading his karate skills, letting cars run over his fingers and suchlike acts of derring do.

Vijay -- who, in the sobriquet-crazy southern city, is called Iyala Dalapathi -- even has a song picturised on him, the lyrics of which run I am the king of Chennai. This ditty, and others in the film, have been written by upcoming lyricist Pazhanibharathi, and the song was picturised recently on an enormously expense set.

The film also marks the Tamil debut of Bhumika, who has a couple of Telugu hits to her name.

Badri, in fact, is reported to be a remake of Thamudu, the Telugu film starring Pavan Kalyan and Preeti Jhangiani which itself was 'inspired' by Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander.

Then again, neither the Telugu film nor its Hindi inspiration features a double role. So what gives, Vijay?

Meanwhile, the fact that this is a remake is, on form, an almost certain guarantee of a hit for Vijay, given the star's track record.

Priyamanavale and Friends, his two recent hits, have both been remakes.

-- Rajitha

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