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June 21, 2000


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Chemeen returns

Bharati Raja Malayalam cinema first hit the national spotlight with Chemeen, the screen adaptation of Thakazi Sivasankara Pillai's evocative novel of doomed love amid the fishing boats.

Now comes a reworking of that tale, from the stable of none other than Bharati Raja. Kadalpookal, set on a beach, will star his son Manoj alongside Murali, reprising roles superbly etched in the original by Sathyan and Madhu.

A few more quick takes: Saki, the Telugu version of the Mani Rathnam outing, Alaipayudhey, is proving a much bigger hit than the Tamil original.

Meanwhile, with Tamil remakes on a roll on the Telugu marquee,
Dr Rajshekar will lead another one, when he reprises the role done by Vijaykanth in the upcoming remake of Vanathai Pole. Abbas will play the role etched in the Tamil original by Prabhu Deva.

Prabhu Deva, meanwhile, will appear alongside Sharat Kumar in Pennin Manadhai Thottu.

Director Surya, who debuted with the superhit Vaali and, more recently, scored big yet again with Kushee, will now direct a Telugu movie with Nagarjuna in the lead.

Chakravarty Ezhayin Sirippil, which featured Prabhu Deva in an outstanding role as a tout in a moffusil bus stand, is to be remade in Telugu with Chakravarty stepping into the shoes of the dancing star.

Mughavari, the Ajit-Jyotika starrer helmed by Durai, about a struggling singer who forsakes love for ambition, is also due for a Telugu version. It will be directed by Durai himself.

Cheran movie shrouded in mystery

Bharathi Kanamma Why do people have this desire to go abroad and earn pots of money? Do they realise that, in the process, they are missing out on the best part of their lives?

That, in sum, is the premise on which director Cheran has built his ready-for-release Vetrikodi Kaatu, with Murali, Meena and Malavika in the lead. Parthipan, that specialist in cynical humour, plays a key role.

Murali and Meena had led the cast of Cheran's earlier outing, Porkaalam, which was a hit. However, the director's next offering, Desiya Geetham, came a cropper at the box office, thanks to a rather far-fetched plot.

The director's forte is unusual endings and, as usual, the Vetrikodi Kaatu climax remains a closely-guarded secret, with just a few members of his team in on the secret.

Vijaykanth goes for the triple option


These days, people can't seem to get enough of Vijaykanth. So, in Simhasanam, he sets out to give them a triple dose of himself, appearing as a father and his two sons.

The dusky actor, who, during the early part of his career, was dubbed the poor man's Rajinikanth, is on a roll these days. The soft and sentimental Vaanathai Pole, with Vikraman at the helm and Vijaykanth playing father and son, was a hit. As was the more recent Vallarasu, which had the star spewing fiery patriotic dialogues in an action thriller.

Now comes Simhasanam, with Khushboo, Ambika, Viji, Manthra and Radhika Chowdhury sharing credits.

Viji, incidentally, had made her debut a few years back with Kozhi Koovuthu, and then done a few other movies without noticeable results. A couple of years ago, she underwent major surgery in a leading Madras hospital and said hospital goofed, the surgery going badly awry and resulting in a situation where her spine was damaged and she couldn't walk.

Viji sued the hospital which, rather than go to court, settled. Meanwhile, the girl's plight moved Vijaykanth, who got her a role in this film.

Radhika Chowdhury Radhika Choudhury, meanwhile, is the lass who debuted in Time, the Prabhu Deva-Simran starrer, and later paired with Vijaykanth in Kannu Pada Poguthaiyya.

Before moving on from the Vallarasu theme, we must add that its debut director Maharajan is proving to be a pretty expensive proposition. Vallarasu made a few crore at the box office and, says Maharajan, he sees nothing wrong in asking for a fraction of that amount as his director's fee. Sunny Deol, meanwhile, is understood to have signed him on to helm the Hindi remake.

Songster Prashant


Add one more to the list of singing stars, with Prashant warbling a song for the upcoming Parthein Rasithein. Helmed by Saran, the film has Prashanth, Simran and Laila in the lead. The music is by Bharadwaj who had earlier delivered an outstanding score for Saran's previous film, Amarkalam.

Saran and Bharadwaj appear to have a knack for convincing stars to do their own playback. In Amarkalam, thus, it was Saran who coaxed and cajoled Shalini to sing a number that, rather appropriately, begins with the words Sondha kuralil paada.

Bharadwaj, meanwhile, got Karthik to sing alongside Manorama, Radha Ravi and Nizhalgal Ravi in Pooveli.

Recording work on Paarthein Rasithein is complete and the unit is hugely kicked with the results -- their take is that the songs are going to score big. Bharadwaj is now busy with the mixing, which is being done in Malaysia.

And while on Prashant, a quick aside -- the star has pulled out of director Pravinkant's under-production film, Star. Word doing the rounds is that Pravinkant, who is also acting in the film besides directing it, kept making his own role meatier, with the result that Prashant found himself playing a very low second fiddle.

Prashant and papa Thiagarajan, the erstwhile screen baddie who now manages his son's affairs, want out. Pravinkant has since approached Ajit to take over. Ajit, just back from his honeymoon, is due to give his answer anytime now.

South's James Bond passes into the ages

The industry is still trying to come to grips with the news of the sudden demise of yesteryear star Jaishankar, following a heart attack.

Shankar was his real name, the prefix 'Jai' coming courtesy director Joseph Taliath, who introduced him in Iravum Pagalum.

His penchant for dashing roles earned him the sobriquet of James Bond of south India, thanks to his roles in films like Vallavan Oruvan, Vallavanukku Vallavan, CID Shankar and such. In an era dominated by M G Ramachandran and Shivaji Ganeshan, Jaishankar had his own loyal following. Rarely did a film of his come back from the box office with a thumbs down.

Off screen, the industry knew him as a perfect gentleman, thanks to his deportment. Very prolific during his heyday, he was at one point known as the Friday Hero, because a new film of his would debut almost every Friday.

Among his more memorable roles was a reprise of the Sidney Poitier role in To Sir With Love, in the K Balachander film, Noothukku Noor.

Interestingly, Jaishankar was the hero in Gayatri, which saw Rajinikanth play baddie. Years later, the roles were reversed with Rajinikanth playing hero to Jaishankar's villain in Murattu Kaalai. He was last seen on screen in Iravum Pagalum -- which, if you recall, was the title of his debut film as well.

Unlike his contemporaries Shivaji Ganesan, Muthuraman, Shivkumar and Vijayakumar, Jaishankar has no offspring following him onto the marquee. The closest you can get to that is Nirmala, his niece, who debuted opposite Vineet in Pudhiya Mugham, the film produced by Suresh Menon (husband of Revathi). These days, she is seen in various teleserials.

Sizzle time for Jenisha

Jenisha Jenisha is the girl who captured attention with her role as Abitha Kuchalambal (in fact, following the success of the film, she has taken the name Abitha for herself), the female lead in Sethu. Which, you will remember, was the recent superhit that featured Vikram in the lead, giving the performance of a lifetime.

In Sethu, Jenisha was all that was coy and demure. Swinging to the other extreme, she now does a sizzling role in the Malayalam movie, Devadasi.

The actress claims her role in Devdasi is a sensitive one, of a hapless girl stuck in a situation that forces her into prostitution. According to her, the movie makers used a double for the steamy scenes and she now plans to go to court to get the steamy stuff excised.

Though Sethu was a huge hit, its success doesn't seem to have done much for Jenisha/Abitha. One of the few offers she has in the aftermath is in Pirandha Naal, where she will share credits with Prakash Rai and Sangeetha.

Rajesh returns to small screen

Rajesh's name at one point was synonymous with 'rustic'. The actor then went on to play baddie (specialising mostly in portraying corrupt politicians) before vanishing into oblivion. During his hibernation, he focussed on his real estate business.

Now he is back, albeit on the small screen where he will play nadaswaram exponent Thiruvaduthurai Rajaratnam. The real-life story of a man born into an ordinary home and fights to follow his passion will be directed by Satyajayan, with music by M S Viswanathan. For the lead role, Rajesh's get-up reminds you of the Shivaji Ganeshan role in Thillana Mohanambal.

Saritha opts for production

Saritha, the yesteryear actress who debuted opposite Kamal Haasan in
K Balachander's superhit Maro Charitra and went on to do quite a few more films (a lot of them under KB's direction) is now into production. Not to mention the fact that she is an in-demand dubbing artiste.

Married for quite a while to the Malayalam actor Mukesh, Sarita is now busy producing the Tamil remake of the Malayalam hit Friends, with Vijay and Surya in the lead.

Suvalakshmi It's been musical chairs with the female lead -- it was initially supposed to be Jyotika, then Simran was sounded out to play Surya's love interest, then came Suvalakshmi, laters Devyani... Not that the girls are unwilling -- trouble seems to be that the producer can't make up her mind.

-- Rajitha

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