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August 18, 2000


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Slap in the face for Kamal

Jairam has been pretty popular with the Tamil audiences as well as with film-makers. Makes sense -- he is your typical Keralite professional at work. Jairam

In fact, K S Ravikumar approached him to do a role in the Rajnikanth-starrer Muthu, but Jairam turned that one down. Sharat Babu ended up getting the role.

Now, Jairam is working for the same director in Thenali, with Kamal Haasan.

It turns out that when Jairam realised that there was a scene in Muthu where he would have to slap Rajnikanth, he developed cold feet. "I don't know him that well," Jairam said, and opted out. Thenali

But then, Thenali has a similar scene. Only, this time, it is Kamal Hassan who is at the receiving end. And Jairam quite happily accepted the role. "I've worked with Kamal before, in Chanakyan," Jairam explains, "and am quite comfortable with him."

"Besides," he adds, tongue firmly in cheek, "if I had slapped Rajni in Muthu, his fans would have taken me apart!"

That Sneha got her debut role in Virumbukiren, by responding to an ad in a popular Tamil weekly is not news. Nor is the fact that she is the sister of dance master Kala's fiance. Virumbukiren

What has the industry buzzing, though, is the fact that the new girl apparently doesn't own a calendar. Or if she does, doesn't know how to use it. The result -- major goof-ups with dates.

She has signed on opposite Alai Paayudhey Madhavan for Sugham, leaving her Virumbukiren producer in the lurch by not turning up for shooting.

The producer finally had to approach Vijaykanth, newly elected president of the actor's association (Nadigar Sangham). Vijaykanth and Sharat Kumar, also an office bearer, had to intervene and resolve the dispute. In Solomon style, the two senior stars have mandated that Sneha will give ten days apiece to the two films, and make both producers happy.

There's got to be no precedent for this. A film is being dubbed and released, and both heroes are unhappy! Relax

We're talking of the Kannada original Shanti Shanti Shanti with Abbas and Madhavan in the lead. The film was made before Madhavan hit big time with Alai Paayudhey. And his is very much the junior role. That explains Madhavan's unhappiness.

And Abbas? He is the lead star in the Kannada film -- but his grouse is that in the promos for the upcoming Tamil version, which has been christened Relax, it is Madhavan who is hogging all the limelight, getting his face on the posters and stuff, while the promoters appear to have forgotten that Abbas is around.

Abbas is now planning to go to court, claiming the producers owe him money for the Kannada film. And the producer, on his part, whines that he is deep in debt, the Kannada film flopped, and he is hoping the Tamil reprise will recover some part of his losses.

While on money troubles, check out Roja. The poor lass is reduced to signing on every role, no matter how insignificant, in every film that comes her way simply in order to pay off a mountain of debt her brother has accumulated. And not only does she have to spend most of her time shooting, she has to squeeze in court appearances, too.

Interestingly, Roja won the best actress award this year when the Tamil industry awards were announced -- but the promoters refused to present it to her on the grounds that there were court cases against her.

Meanwhile, one of the films on hand has her doing a double role for long-time beau, R K Selvamani's Pottu Amman --- one role that of the docile girl next door, the other an all-action superwoman.

Harking back to the Kamal Hassan theme for a moment, his upcoming Thenali, due for a Diwali release, will be followed by Aala Vandhaan for producer Kalaipuli Dhanu, with Suresh Krishna directing it.

Also on the anvil is a film to be directed by Mouli, which will team Kamal with National Award winner Mohanlal. Simran has been signed on as one of the female leads, while the other remains undecided at this point.

Prabhu and Ramya Krishna (right) After the success of comedies like Thirupathi Ezhumalai Venkatesa and Kanda Kadamba Kathirvela, Prabhu appears to have decided to specialise in the comedy genre. Thus, he now has Budget Padmanabhan on the anvil, wherein he plays a tightwad. Ramya Krishna plays the female lead in a movie that revolves around how Prabhu insists he will have no children, because children mean expense. T P Gajendran directs, while the likes of Mumtaz, Manivannan, Kovai Sarala, and Karan make up the rest of the cast.

Ace director Shankar's mentor, Pavitran, will direct Sharat Kumar in Pughazh. Sharat in fact is helping Pavithran with part of the finances required for the film.

Interestingly, Jyotika -- now well on her way to superstardom in Tamil films -- was approached for the female lead, but turned it down. The reason? Family loyalty -- Jyotika can't forget that it was Sharat Kumar who, when her sister Nagma was ruling the roost, had a relationship with her, the relationship went pfffft, and with it, Nagma's career in Tamil films.

Vijaykanth After the superhit Vallarasu -- which in fact follows on a string of recent hits -- Vijaykanth's upcoming movie Vanchinathan has become hot property even as early as the launch. The film has sold for a crore and more at many centres, with the money in some cases being paid up front.

Interestingly, though, the makers of the film are said to be attempting to dissociate Shaji Kailas, the star Malayalam director, from the film. Initially, Shaji was slated to direct it. But now it looks like the film-makers have other ideas. Which will make it twice unlucky for Shaji -- it was he who had given the kernel of the Vallarasu plot as well.

Director Vinayan will helm the Tamil remake of the Malayalam film Vaasanthiyum, Lakshmiyum Pinnan Gnanum. And Vikram, who missed the national acting award by one vote to Mohanlal, will play the role that Kalabhavan Mani did in the original, to such good effect that he got a special jury award. Meena and Devyani will head the female cast.

The original film was heavily powered by evocative folk music, and for the Tamil version, the director has signed on maestro Ilayaraja -- at Rs 17 lakh.

Sanghavi Sanghavi missed out on the Prabhu Deva hit Ezhayin Sirippil... and, coincidence or otherwise, her career went into the doldrums around the same period.

Now she gets a chance to pair up with the dancing star, when she does Ezhai Nam Pakkam. And -- again, coincidence or otherwise -- the jinx seems to be broken, and more offers are coming her way.

Mumtaz played the female lead in T Rajender's garish Monisha En Monalisa. The film bombed, and so did the debutant heroine. Mumtaz

But what an entire film couldn't do for her, one dance number appears to have done. While Jyotika was Vijay's heroine in the recent hit Khushee, Mumtaz did an 'item number' with the sizzling dance for Katti Pudi Da -- and suddenly, is very much in demand. To the extent that she now feels confident of charging 10 lakh per film. And what is more, she says she is looking forward to 2001, when -- or so she hopes -- she will be the top female star on the Tamil marquee.

-- Aarkay & Sreeram Selvaraj

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