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October 5, 1998


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Titans together


Rajnikanth. Click for bigger pic!
That Rajnikanth's next outing is Padayappa -- a corruption of the name Aaru Padayappa, a synonym of Muruga, the biggest deity down in Tamil Nadu -- is no news.

And it is, too, a given that the film is expected, through its dialogues, to open a political Pandora's box, and to indicate which direction the dusky superstar, who in the previous election was responsible for cobbling the Tamil Maanila Congress and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam into a winning combination, will take now.

Also of interest -- and not as commonly known -- is the fact that 'Chevalier' Sivaji Ganesan will play a major role in the film, doing the role of Rajnikanth's father.

It's been a while since the two teamed together -- almost two decades, in fact. Their last outing was Viduthalai, the K Balaji remake of Feroz Khan's hit Qurbani.

Pairing history

Kamal Haasan. Click for bigger pic!
And thereby hangs a bit of a tale. Balaji, during the seventies and part of the eighties, was the man who made the remake into an art form of sorts, and Viduthalai was among his more notable successes. Came the time for casting, and Balaji hit upon the idea of teaming Kamal Hassan, Rajni and Sivaji Ganesan together. Which, had it worked, would have been an all time casting coup.

As the story goes, though, Kamal when approached said he would act, but only if given the role played in the Hindi original byAmjad Khan. Balaji, however, wanted Sivaji for that role, at which Kamal promptly declined the opportunity to play either the role essayed by Feroz Khan in the original, or the one played by Vinod Khanna.

In the event, the former role went to Rajni, the latter to Vishnuvardhan, Sivaji played a hammy reprise of Amjad Khan's comedy-laced cop, and a good time was had by all.

The remake mania

Meena. Click for bigger pic!
Among the big hits of recent times, in Tamil cinema, is Porkaalam -- directed byCheran, and starring Murali and Meena.

And, as is increasingly common with big hits in one southern language, it is merely a matter of time before it reappears, in remake form, in another. More so, as this film has been picked to represent India at the Toronto Film Festival.

This time, the remake is in Telugu, and the shooting for the as yet untitled version commences this month. Srikanth, Devyani and Sanghavi will play the main roles in the remade version.

Making records

Meanwhile, Porkalam's being granted superhit status means that Cheran is fast becoming a name to reckon with -- more so as this film follows close on the heels of an earlier megahit,Bharathikannamma. That film starred Parthiban opposite Meena, and is still talked about for an unusual, rather daring ending.

Porkalam too is not without its talking points -- and the one cinegoers seem to focus on most is that song sung by the hero, a potter by profession, to describe his lady love. Thanjavur manney eduthu, Thamaraparani thanni yeduthu is the latest example of Vairamuthu's passionate, evocative lyricism -- in the song, the potter fashions the image of his lady love with mud taken from various parts of Tamil Nadu.

The latest film storming the Madras turnstiles is Sollamalee, an offbeat venture that, yet again, marks the debut of a guy who started out as an assistant director (ever stopped to count the number of erstwhile assistants who are helming solo projects, these days?).

Sasi, the man with the megaphone for Sollamalee, was number two to Kathir of Kaadhal Desam fame.

Romance in binary

Kathir. Click for bigger pic!
Kathir, meanwhile, is busy with Kaathalar Dinam (Valentine's Day), a story of cyber romance that turns into the real thing, the shooting for which, in locations in and around Bombay, went on almost through the whole of last month.

Sollamalee pairs Livingstone with Kausalya, one of the hottest stars doing the rounds today. Kausalya, you will recall, is the Akila on whom the song Akila Akila -- a composition by Deva that bears more than a passing resemblance to Buffalo Soldier -- was picturised, in Nerukku Ner.

Her first big hit though was Kaalamellaam Kaadhal Vaazhga, co-starring Murali. She also had Priyamudan, opposite Vijay, the hottest male star in TN. In that film, Vijay did a negative role, playing a young lover who, to win his girl, murders her father and also causes his friend to fall off a cliff.

Kausalya is poised for even more business at the box office, thanks to an underproduction venture for the Kavithalaya banner, which is helmed by K Balachander, doyen of southside directors.Poo Veli, the film in question, pairs her opposite Karthik and is directed by Selva,, with music by Vishal Bharadwaj -- the last named, familiar to Hindi film buffs as the guy who tuned Maachis.

Illayaraja spawns genius

Cut to the world of music for a space, and the news is that Ilayaraja's daughter Pavadharini has cut an album -- Sudhandhiram -- directed by Tamizhselvan.

And yes, like A R Rehman's Vande Mataram, Pavadharani's debut is patriotic in tone and tenor. The director -- who, to add to the number of erstwhile assistants that we referred to a while ago, used to be understudy to Shankar of Indian, Jeans, etc -- believes that Independence Day should not be a grim affair restricted to politicos hoisting the tricolour.

For patriotism to really spread, Tamizhselvan feels, I-Day should be celebrated like a festival, kids and adults should have cause to be out there, bursting crackers, dancing, making merry...

Meanwhile, Pavadharini, who has composed the music for her debut album -- with lyrics by Vaali-- will make an appearance on her own video. And the graphics -- reputed to be quite stunning -- are by another regular on the Shankar team, but more of that later.

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