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April 30, 1998


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Where is Karisma?


Karisma Kapoor. Click for bigger pic!
It's Karisma Kapoor's turn, now, to follow the southward migratory trail being blazed by Bollywood belles.

The svelte star's high asking price had, in the past, discouraged southside producers keen to cast her, but one brave soul is now prepared to up the ante, apparently. The result being, Karisma will now flash a nifty leg, and much else besides, in the as yet untitled directorial debut of Perumal, hitherto one of Mani Ratnam's chief assistants.

Asked why she, too, was winging south, Karishma -- who couldn't attend the pooja owing to having contracted a fever -- said the storyline was the chief attraction. As to what the storyline actually is, they aren't telling. Yet!

And AB too

Amitabh Bachchan. Click for bigger pic!
Well, I'll stick my neck out on this one. It ain't confirmed news yet, but the buzz down south is that no less than Amitabh Bachchan is slated to act in two Tamil films.

While the hard details are still awaited, prelim info is that one of them will be Amarkalam helmed by director Sharan, while the other is an as yet untitled film to be directed by Vikraman.

Seems part of his current strategy, to revive a rapidly flagging popularity graph. Besides the two films mentioned above, the Big B has also roped in director Priyadarshan to adapt the Hemingway classic, Old Man and The Sea. "Amitabh wanted a role in keeping with his age, and I thought of this one," was Priyan's comment on this. And further, the once angry young man is busy remaking a Sharat Kumar hit for the Bollywood marquee.

So who said the southward migration was restricted to the leading ladies?

Purely coincidental

Keralites had a bit of a start, recently, when they woke up to find posters of J Jayalalitha pasted all over their walls.

Only, a closer examination revealed that it wasn't Jayalalitha in the flesh -- merely a slightly orotund southern starlet name of Chitra, dolled up in a sari covered by the cape that JJ made famous.

The posters advertise an upcoming film by the name of Mandhiri Maligayil Manasammatham, being directed by Kalabhavan Mani.

While the full storyline is not being revealed just now, we learn that the tale revolves around a former minister, Jayakumari, who loses a crucial election. What follows is the real story -- and the catalyst thereof is a lady friend who lives in the minister's official home.

Ummm... Jayakumari, electoral defeat, live-in lady friend, cape-over-sari... shades, you think of, Jayalalitha and Shashikala Natrajan?

No way, the director has been telling all who will listen. According to him, the cape that Jayalalitha habitually wears struck him as a sartorial gimmick which he decided to copy in his film. Otherwise, any resemblance between his fictional Jayakumari and Jayalalitha -- or indeed, any person living or dead -- is purely coincidental.

Right, we believe you!

Sandalwood to celluloid

Nasser. Click for bigger pic!
It was just a matter of time, I guess, before someone made a film about Veerappan.

I mean, given the way he has dominated the headlines in Tamil Nadu for years now, it was a film just waiting to happen -- and it is. Happening, that is.

Nasser, of whom much has been written elsewhere on this site, plays the title role. And it appears it was the character actor's nose -- not to mention an uncanny resemblance, when a bit of artificial fuzz was attached below his nose, to the moustachioed marauder -- that got him the role.

Other leading roles in the film, to be helmed by director Ramani, are being played by:Mammootty, who plays the IAS officer who first opposed Veerappan's depredations; Charan Raj, the Telugu baddie of Pratigatana (Pratighat, in Hindi), plays supercop Walter Dawaram; and Napoleon, another regular screen baddie, plays Veerappan's brother.

And before you ask, no, the film is not intended as either glorification, or vilification, of India's most notorious woodcutter. While the base of the story is Veerappan himself, the crux, according to Ramani, is the question of extremism, and ways and means to end it.

The film climaxes on August 15. How? Heck, you see the movie and find out for yourself....

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