Saturday, July 23, 2005

The Prithviraj Phenomenon...

When Prithviraj burst upon the malayalam film scene I was finally ready to make the transition away from being a hard-core though disillusioned mohanlal fan and embrace an actor who I thought would signal the arrival of a new generation into our filmdom. Unfortunately very few fellow malayalis thought like me i think...seeing average movies of the superstars like Thaskaraveeran, Mambazhakalam,Sethuramayyar and Balettan run to packed houses and huge initials makes me think when the malayali resistance to change set in. The sad part is a promising actor is losing his way and a burnt-out, jaded generation of directors and scriptwriters with nothing new to offer in terms of content and story refuse to bow out and make way for the younger lot to force their way in...even more symbolic of the rot that has set in is the dirty politics our esteemed filmakers, actors and producers played to ease prithvi out of the industry when he took a courageous yet lonely principled stance against the AMMA...politics has seeped so deep into our psyche and retarded our government, society, culture and now even our movies.

I wonder if another period like the 80's when a new breed of directors and scriptwriters like fazil, priyadarshan, sibi malayil, venu nagavally, lohithadas and sreenivasan along with actors like lal and mammooty emerged taking malayalam cinema to a totally new high - a phase where the offbeat merged with the commercial leading to a stage where many good movies wud release on the same friday and some failed to make a mark at the box office but got noticed later on when their cassettes came out. The irony of the situation is my friends here have watched almost 15 of Prithvi's 20 old movie career while my pals back home wudnt even bother visiting a theater to watch his films and with every movie of his we see here, our appreciation for the 23 year old lad just increases...after mammooty, lal and suresh gopi we finally have an actor who has the intelligence, sophistication and looks to become a star.I havent seen his best two films to date, Akale and Deyvanamathil but his performances in kana kandein, sathyam, swapnakoode, nandanam and chakram were miles ahead of whatever repetitive acting our ageing superstars seem to keep dishing out and fooling audiences with.

His story has parallels with that of another star-son, Abhishek Bachchan who finally delivered after 14 flops in a row...the difference being bollywood today has a wealth of enormously talented young technicians while our industry is faced with a shrinking audience, intellectually bankrupt filmakers, producers who suicidally patronize the star-system and the onslaught of well-packaged movies from hollywood, bollywood and tollywood. Tamil movies which we once mocked at is having an unchallenged run at the kerala box office - with such well-crafted movies like autograph, kadal, saamy, anniyan, kadal kondein and so many more they are definitely worth a watch rather than the run-of-the-mill fare dished out to us. Its just not in heroes...where will the next actors to replace thilakan, nedumudi, sreenivasan and oduvil come from... i guess so long as challenging roles dont arise actors of their greatness wont be needed...cinema's overwhelming popularity and the onslaught of prime-time television has killed a once prospering arena which fed malayalam cinema with countless geniuses...theatre. Movies like nandanam, kazcha and udayananu thaaram have become a once in a year affair for a people who grew up watching padmarajan, bharathan, fazil, hariharan, sathyan anthikad, priyadarshan, joshi and i.v.sasi films battle it out in the marquees at the same time. Are these the sparks flying off the dying embers of a once globally acclaimed industry or the nadir before the next renaissance? I guess time will tell...

P.S - Yesterday night we went for Kochirajavu(if u can imagine dileep as rajnikant in baasha...that sums up most of the movie!!!)...surrounded the achayan who brings mal movies to the theater here(u cud say almost gheraoed) and pleaded with him to get the new Prithvi movie, The Police(we saw the trailers and technically the film looked as breath-taking as Company and Anniyan!) to show...his major worry wuz that most of the ppl here moved to the us from kerala when the two M's were in their prime and as such bringing a jayaram, dileep or prithvi movie burns his fingers...but he's agreed to take one more chance provided we can show him where the sympathies of LA's young mallu crowd lies!

12 comments:

silverine said...

Prithviraj seems to be promising. Hope he will reignite the the interest of the Kerala youth in Malayalam films. At present the short sighted policies of producers and directos aided by the two stubborn aging superstars have almost killed the once revered Kerala movie industry.

Praveen said...

Prithviraj has the makings of a great actor. While its my preconceived opinion that no actor emulate the performances of Mohanlal during the 80s and 90s, when he could not put a foot wrong, Prithviraj might just be the next superstar.

However, as you point out there are no great directors around today as there were in the 80s and 90s so its going to be difficult to get the right roles to make the transition to the superstar.

flaash said...

Ur critique of the Mal film industry was excellent! The 80s movies were the best ! can watch many of those comedies any no: of times...
Seems u tho' being so far away there in LA have better insights than those closer home.(getting a complex now) :-))

Everytime i get home i try to watch atleast one movie but mostly am told its not worth it. Neway i dont watch malayalam for anything else but the humour nowadays..well apart from the odd Kalyanaraman most are lacking in that too..

Heard Perumazhakaalam ws good; but dont think any M/M movies are worth watching nowadays..As for Udayanaanu thaaram; tho several digs at the stars were real classy (actually many were targeted at Mohanlal himself) the last 10 min which were the real saving grace of the movie, was of course a direct lift from Bowfinger.

btw mom n sis are big fans of Pritviraj tho me dont like him too much; prob coz i've only seen one movie of his- Swapnakoodu which i thot ws absolutely ridiculous with gaping holes in the storyline etc!

And most mal movies i watch are in the Bangalore - Cochin bus trip :-))

cheers
flaash

Matter of Choice said...

Prithviraj was my junior in school (and indrajith my batchmate). so i have been remote-tracking their movie careers for a while. Remote tracking coz i am too lazy to go to a theatre on a weekend in chennai (especially all alone as i stay with non-mallu friends).

I had seen one movie by prithvi, nandanam, where he looked a tad raw. I have since heard that he has improved by several multiples. he definitely has it in himself to replace the 2 M's that even now dominate the industry. The making of Mohanlal as the "super human" hero was tragic (but i guess it was self inflicted). Movies like kireedam, TP Gopalakrishnan and the dozen odd amazing comic-tinted roles were so gooood..why the hell did he have to stop acting and start twirling his moustache??

from the trailers that i have watched, looks like prithvi indeed has the smouldering intensity of his wonderful dad sukumaran. plus the looks n the body to attract the current generation. i guess genes do matter!

A young crop of directors n other technicians should comeup to harness the talents of the new crop of mal actors. In fact, most of the still-continuing old fav directors seem to be living on past glory. Fazil, priyadarshan and to an extent even sathyan anthikkad has degenerated. we need fresh blood behind the cameras too. Only sreenivasan continues, he gets better with age jez like fine wine :)

a great writeup.am definitely gonna drag my non-mal friends to a few mallu movies soon. Ah well...i might have to show them the clasics in my comp rather than going to a theatre to see thaskaraveeran!

Neil Padayatty said...

Talking about Prithviraj, I remember the guy who made the audience ride him to glory at the La Fest, two times in a row! He was crowned La Persona twice, which is no mean feat given that the 'best of best' participate in the competition. And La Persona, unlike other similar events takes into account factors, other than your cat-family genes. And Prithviraj, was a star even on that day!
Fast forward to modern day, I'm not half as impressed as I was of the young Prithviraj, because I feel, he doesn't try very much to bring forth an acting style quite his own. He conveniently tries to follow the acting styles which Lalettan brought, which made him the superstar he is. This obviously is a stupid thing to do for an actor who wants to carve a niche for himself in the M&M M Film Industry. Who wants a replica when the original is there, however lessened in class! And Prithviraj, being a star son and all, cannot take the excuse which other budding stars may, of going with the current. He aint going to be in any dire straits, what with his mother and brother and his late father all there to support him!
So in the end, I would hope Prithviraj would break out of the M Mould and show that he's got some tricks, unique, up his sleeve!

Jiby said...

oh yeah, i remember my sis coming home after LaFest and gushing abt this guy called prithviraj who had swept all the ladies off their feet...she said one of his answers to a question wuz "Being prithviraj means being arrogant"! neil i dont agree to you one bit that he imitates mohanlal...lal, mammooty or amitabh didnt have a style of their own when they started out..it wuz the roles they did and the directors they worked with that moulded them into their current personas. am glad to see so many of you hoping to see him rise...maybe santhosh sivan's(he is my senior at school) ananthabhadram may give him the break!

Anonymous said...

Prithviraj is an good actor, I AGREE!..Privthviraj is the next lalettan or Mammoty..I TOTALLY DISAGREE!!

I suggest he acts in roles which suit him...His Police and Sathyam were big flops out here!!..People didn't even bother going near the theatres( including me)

The only two films in which I found him to be okay atleast is Nandanam( but in this there was the Navya factor ) and in Swapnakoodu there was a team factor. I didn't find anything significant in his other movies..

Kanakandein was good, but that could make him the next Surya in Tamil movies but never a Mohanlal or Mammoty in Malayalam cinema..He doesnt have it in to become the superstar of Malayalam Cinema

Lalettan Rocks!

Anonymous said...

Prithviraj is an good actor, I AGREE!..Privthviraj is the next lalettan or Mammoty..I TOTALLY DISAGREE!!

I suggest he acts in roles which suit him...His Police and Sathyam were big flops out here!!..People didn't even bother going near the theatres( including me)

The only two films in which I found him to be okay atleast is Nandanam( but in this there was the Navya factor ) and in Swapnakoodu there was a team factor. I didn't find anything significant in his other movies..

Kanakandein was good, but that could make him the next Surya in Tamil movies but never a Mohanlal or Mammoty in Malayalam cinema..He doesnt have it in to become the superstar of Malayalam Cinema

Lalettan Rocks!

Shan

Anoop G Kumar said...

I totally agree with Shan.

Prithviraj, is a new generation actor who works and learns from examples and standards set by legends like Mamuka and Lalettan, but how much ever he tries he will never come close to them. I can’t even imagine Prithviraj doing Kilikam or CBI diary Kurup. It wont work.

From day 1 Prithviraj has shown significant improvement, but in a different direction, he is new breed of artist who works hard on a shot, but guys like Mamuka and Lalettan are spontaneous.

My question here is, has there ever been a comparison between god and man?

Regards,
Anoop

Arun said...

Shan's and Anoops comments were expected, given the fact that they never really liked prithviraj :-)

The kid's got talent no doubt.
On the personal front, he's a nice guy. He knows his capabilities and he knew his weaknesses. And he was really ambitious. He was a good friend during school days, and the funny part was I didnt know he was the great sukumaran's son till late. We both headed Nehru house in school, and from day one I knew this kid was special.
Comparing him to mammooty and mohanlal is not fair. For both the groups. He will carve a niche of his own- no doubt about that. He's got a distinct style which is not influenced by his father's style. I see his most glaring weakness in the ability to play comic roles, which I believe is an important trait to be successful in Malayalam cinema. Malayali audiences possess a good sense of comedy (think about Dhawan/Lever/Goundamani!). And the rise of the second wave of stars - jayaram, dileep, kalabhavan mani (yes, he is a star) and the replacement of theatre by mimicry as the cradle of movie talent is testament to this fact.
But he will learn...in swapnakoodu he showed shades of good comic timing, showed he can be really menacing as a villain in kanaa kanden.
What he needs is first to shake off vinayan from his back. Vinayan is making some quick bucks using him and releasing some really crappy movies targetted at kids and vacation cine-goers during vacation season, but at the same time ruining prithviraj's career.
All he needs is the "perfect storm" - and stardom will follow - the right combination of story, character, performance, direction and packaging. He is here to stay.

Anonymous said...

Prithviraj seems to be a good actor. I have seen most of his movies and I think he has a chance. He is good and has improved a lot in the recent movies. Why bother comparing him with Lal and Mammooty. They had their share and space. He is still young and has his chance. I am sure he is going to be a good start. What is the super star thing. You got to earn it. And once he deserves he will automatically get it.He will I am sure.I am a tamilian but I watch a lot of malayalam movies as I have great interest since their stories are very good and not very commercial. I think Prithvi is going to be then next generation's super start.

sathiya said...

prithivi is an excellent actor. his movies r really amazing especially MOZHI,POLICE etc. i want you to do more films in tamil and also i wish that u want to pair with my fav.actress ASIN.