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|March 5, 2002||
The Beautiful South
There exists a strange synergy between beauty queens and Tamil filmmakers.
Aishwarya Rai was signed on by Mani Ratnam for Iruvar; Sushmita Sen was paired with Nagarjuna in Rakshagan; Yukta Mookhey made a one-song appearance in Poovellaam Un Vaasam, and Lara Dutta is now shooting for her debut outing.
One would think Tamil producers had pretty much mopped up all the beauty queens in sight. Then again, the sky is the limit.
Thus, Aarti Agarwal, an NRI Gujarati girl who went on to become Miss New Jersey, starred in Telugu opposite Venkatesh, and will shortly make her bow on the Tamil marquee opposite Prashanth in Winner, to be directed by Sundar C.
Word being that the director's wife and former marquee queen Khushboo was the one who spotted, and signed on, Aarti for her hubby's next.
For the film Senior Junior starring Mammootty, director Suresh didn't quite like the girl who was initially cast as female lead. So he looked around in Malaysia, where the bulk of the film is being shot, and discovered a local lass, name of Leena, who had won a Miss Malaysia pageant. So Leena is in --- and the bonus for the filmmakers is that though she is of Punjabi origin, she can speak Tamil.
And, says a pleased Suresh, she can act as well!
While on Mammootty, the Malayalam superstar and three-time National Award-winner is due to play a stuntman from Bollywood, in the upcoming film Phantom Pailee.
The film, slated for a Malayalam New Year release, has Mammootty playing a stuntman who returns home for a break. What happens to him is what the story is about.
Incidentally, Kamal Hassan played a stuntman --- or 'dupe', if you will --- in Pammal K Sambandham, a comedy released on Tamil New Year's Day. In that film, however, the focus was not on stunts but rather on the protagonist's misogynist nature.
Here comes the son!
We continue our son-worship with updates of a few more star sons making it to the marquee.
First, there is Pranav, son of Malayalam superstar Mohanlal, who will make his debut in Onaaman, where he plays the child version of Mohanlal's character. The film is being directed by Thampi Kannanthanam.
Pranav, incidentally, will be the second grandson of producer Balaje to make it to the marquee --- the first being Suresh Balaje's kid Suraj, who stole the show in the Shah Rukh starrer Asoka as the young prince of Kalinga. For the record, Mohanlal is Balaje's son-in-law.
Another star son making it on the big screen, also from Malayalam, is Inderjit, son of late actor Sukumaran.
Interestingly, Inderjit debuts as villain in Ooma Penninu Oriyaada Payyan, under Vinayan's direction --- which evokes parallels with his father who, during his two-decade-long stint in films, played a variety of villainish roles with the occasional soft character thrown in.
Inderjit, incidentally, is a software engineer who was working on teleserials when Vinayan spotted him. Inderjit's brother Prithviraj is also slated to make his debut as hero, in Nandanam.
Pakistan and patriotism --- flavours of the month
Pakistan and patriotism are the flavour of the month, vide the success of recent Sunny Deol adventures mixing the two into a box office masala audiences across the country are finding palatable. Cue in producer Mukesh R Mehta, who has decided to revive his project War And Love to take advantage of this propitious climate.
The film was started two years ago, with an Indo-Pak war as backdrop and the then not-so-hot Dileep, Kalabhavan Mani and Tamil hero Prabhu in the lead, while Laila provided the feminine interest.
Mehta ran out of money, though, and the project was shelved. Recently producer Kalaipuli S Thanu, after his disaster with the Kamal Haasan starrer Aalavandhan (Abhay, in Hindi) saw some rushes of the shelved film and liked it. To the extent where, if industry rumour is true, he has taken over the project with Mehta shifting to the role of executive producer.
The timing could just be right --- Vinayan's story has contemporary relevance given the ongoing face-off between India and Pakistan, while the three stars, Dileep, Laila and Kalabhavan Mani, are all up there in the ratings.
To cover all bases, the producers are reportedly looking to get the red-hot Vikram, whose Kaasi wherein he plays a blind folk singer (a remake of Parvatiyum Lakshmiyum Pinne Nhaanum, which starred Kalabhavan Mani), is a sleeper hit of recent months.
Equally to the point, the Vikram-Laila pair had shepherded Dhill to the position of the biggest hit of last year.
Dhanu is hoping the cast --- plus Vikram as guest star --- will click with the audience, and propel the film to hit status. He for sure needs one, given the multiple crore beating he took with Aalavandhan/Abhay.
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