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September 7, 1999


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Here comes the winner

Surya and Jyotika in Poovellam Kettupaar Jyotika Sadanah can bank on a winner with the just-released Poovellam Kettupaar, directed by Vasanth and co-starring Surya (who incidentally made his debut in an earlier Vasanth offering, Nerukku Ner).

The film revolves around a duo (Nasser and Vijaykumar) who, in their prime, topped the film music charts. The two fall out in the aftermath of a minor disagreement. One rises to become the most in-demand composer, the other languishes by the wayside. Till, by a quirk of circumstance, the tables are turned.

As their respective fortunes rise and fall and the enmity deepens, their children meet, tumble head over heels in love. The rest of the film is about how the girl wins over the boy's parents, and vice versa. Powered by 'Crazy Mohan's' zany dialogues, what ensues is a laugh riot.

The slick flow of the film is indicative of the hard work that went into its making. Watching it, I was reminded of the last time I met director Vasanth -- at Juinagar Station in New Bombay -- where he was busy shooting the Arjun-Meena starrer Rhythm. During a break, Vasanth joined me with a cup of Bournvita, and talked of his movie-making philosophy. Which he summed up in one word: perfection.

The one-time assistant of K Balachander has, matured into a director with a very strong sense of story (it helps that he himself is a short storywriter of some renown) and a sure hand with the megaphone. His most obvious characteristic is an eye for detail. Vasanth is, in a word, finicky -- or that is how others might see him.

If you ask him, he will describe himself as a perfectionist, the kind of director who wants everything just so, and won't compromise.

Rahman does it again

A R Rahman Chalk up another feather in A R Rahman's cap. Earlier, he had scored the music for Rajiv Menon's debut film Minsaara Kanavugal (the Arvind Swamy-Prabhu Deva-Kajol film later dubbed in Hindi as Sapnay), and the songs became chartbusters.

Now he's gone and done it again, for Rajiv Menon's under-production film, Kandukonden Kandukonden, which has a mega-star cast comprising Mammootty, Aishwarya Rai, Tabu, Abbas and Ajit.

For the film, which revolves around a traditional Chettinad household, Rahman has gone classical with a vengeance, and the songs have a marked Carnatic flavour -- this, from the composer whose forte supposedly is techno. And -- wouldn't you have guessed! -- the audio rights have just been sold for a whopping Rs 2.2 crore, a figure that overshadows even the massive amounts paid for the rights of another recent Rahman blockbuster, the Rajnikanth-starrer Padayappa.

Sivan on a roll

Santosh Sivan is on a roll, with a national award for cinematography for the Mani Rathnam-directed Shah Rukh-Manisha starrer Dil Se, plus a spate of international awards for Terrorist.

A project for the future -- now in the preliminary planning stages -- is a broad canvas depiction of the life and times of Emperor Ashoka. But for now, Santosh is busy directing Snehapoorvam Anna, a tale of the love of father and daughter, starring Inocent and debutant Vaibhavi.

Interestingly, while the ace cinematographer wields the megaphone, Ramki will take over the cameras.

Yen for Rajnikanth

Soundarya and Rajnikanth in Padayappa While on Rajnikanth, regulars of this column will recall us mentioning how the swarthy superstar has become a huge draw in Japan, where he dubbed for the Dancing Maharajah. For the recession-hit Japanese, the song-and-dance-and-fight extravaganzas of Rajnikanth come as the perfect anodyne, and his films have been repeatedly busting every box office record there is, in the land of the rising sun.

Now, meet Mary Fujita, designer with a leading Japanese firm of architects and married to a Malaysian Tamil. Not to mention, a confirmed Rajnikanth addict, having seen, several times, she says, films like Muthu, Arunachalam, Dalapathi et al.

Rajnikanth is, in Mary's estimation, the world's best actor, and she is unabashedly devoted to his flamboyant mannerisms, his style of dancing, his fights... the works.

During her recent holiday in Madras, she also got to see the latest Rajnikanth-starrer, Padayappa, now into its 140th day and showing enough legs to break most records. But the real highpoint was when she got to meet the star himself.

Apparently Mary landed in Madras on the day the star was scheduled to leave for the US. Desperate for a meeting, she got in touch with Satyanarayana, head of the Rajnikanth Fans Association. He bundled her into a car and rushed her to the star's home, adjoining Jayalalitha Jayaram's bungalow in Poes Garden, off Cathedral Road.

Rajnikanth, en route to the airport, took time off to sign an autograph and pose with the star-struck Japanese lady for some pictures, and made her day when he promised to spend more time with her the next time she happened to be in town.

Meanwhile, going back to the fascination Rajnikanth inspires among the Japanese -- this has even bred a new cultural form, the cine-dance. Apparently, young Japanese of both sexes learn to dance to Tamil film songs. And Fujita herself is no slouch in this department, having danced onstage to the Thillanna thillanna ditty from the Rajnikanth-starrer, Muthu.

'Bidda' Chan

Uncle Wilson yells 'Baboi', Captain Haddock mouths the Telugu equivalent of 'Blistering Barnacles'... dubbed films can be great fun.

Add to the list one more. Jackie Chan, transformed for the moment into an authentic Telugu bidda, will appear on the Andhra marquee via the dubbed version of his latest film, Super Cop. Vasantha Kumar writes the Telugu dialogues, and as part of the film's promos, Chan himself will appear in an interview.

And still on dubbed films, K C Bokadia's Gundagardi is due to be dubbed -- or partly remade -- as Gunda Darbar -- with 'original ingredients' such as Vijayashanthi in the lead, eight fight sequences filmed on the leading lady, and so on.

Harish and Simran will share the star billing, while Bollywood baddies Gulshan Grover and Raj Babbar will provide the villainous element.

An added bonus is Dharmendra in a cameo, playing Vijayashanthi's guru who eggs her on to take on the bad boys. Aditya Panscholi will play Vijayashanthi's husband.

The star nephew

Kamal Hassan and Shahrukh Khan in He Ram A quick update on Kamal Hassan's under-production film, He Ram. Kamal's nephew -- his sister's son, actually -- plays an important role in the film. Nope, it is not his debut. Years ago, Gautam appeared as the younger Kamal Hassan in the actor's own production, Raajaparvai.

Gautam, now doing his masters in business administration in Bombay, is a hazel-eyed youngster whose eyes, and face, remind you more of Kamal's elder brother, the national award-winning actor, Charu Hassan.

Tulu tale

The film world has many Tulu-speaking stars -- Aishwarya Rai, Sunil Shetty, Shilpa Shetty, Prakash Rai -- to name just four -- but Tulu films are rare.

One such is Guttud Gath, to be directed by Chandrasekhara Poojari, based on his own storyline. Suresh Anchan and Viswanath Pandit play key roles, and the film will be shot mainly in Modabidre, Kaapu and Mangalore.

One for the old

Karthik In the year of the senior citizen, a film dedicated to the aged, Rojavanam, produced by K Balachander's Kavithalaya banner, brings back the Pooveli team of director Selva and star Karthik.

Karthik plays a caretaker of an old people's home, and the star cast has brought together several yesteryear Tamil stars, like Nambiar, Kakka Radhakrishnan and M S Viswanathan, along with the evergreen Manorama.

Since this is by way of being a 'message' film, you have Karthik sacrificing his love when he feels it could be a threat to the home and its inmates. Not, of course, before a romance that has the couple cavorting amidst the Alps, and even the Transport Museum in Zurich, never before seen on the Indian screen.

Priya bides her time

Who said only roads and cities are renamed? Dinesh Babu's under-production Kannada film, Navodaya, has now been renamed as Premotsava.

Produced by H D Kumaraswamy -- son of former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda -- the film has Dinesh Babu handling the camera, screenplay and dialogues, besides directing it. Stephen debuts as music composer, and the film has Vishnuvardhan paired opposite Roja and Priya Gill.

In passing, a word on Priya. You will recall that she was introduced by ABCL, along with Simran. The latter has gone on to become Tamil cinema's -- southside cinema's, to stretch a point -- heart-throb, while Gill kind of fell by the wayside. Sirf Tum, the Hindi version of the superhit Tamil film Kaadhal Kottai, had her in the lead, but failed to make an impact in Bollywood.

She has, however, gained some notice with a recent appearance in a Malayalam film opposite Mammootty, so perhaps it is a touch too early to write her off yet.

-- Rajitha

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