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The season of sequels

Sreedhar Pillai

The Malayalam film industry is banking on sequels to attract viewers to the theatres.

CASHING IN ON A TREND: Many Malayalam actors, including superstars, are all set to star in prequels and sequels.

`Bharathchandran IPS,' the comeback vehicle of Suresh Gopi, written and directed by Ranji Panikkar, has created box-office history in Kerala, by collecting a new record distributor's share of Rs. 1.04 crores from 50 screens in eight days!

The film is a sequel to `Commissioner,' which was also a super hit, proving the theory that Malayalis love sequels of superstar blockbusters.

Today in the United States, 65 per cent of films have sequels and some of them are franchises like `Harry Potter,' `James Bond,' `Indiana Jones,' `Star Wars,' `X-Men,' `Shrek' and the biggest of them all `Spiderman.' The sequels have all turned goldmines for the studios, producers, writers and even stars.

Inspired by success

A similar situation is emerging in Kerala following the stupendous success of films like `Sethurama Iyer CBI,' `Ravanaprabhu' and now `Bharathchandran IPS.' Jayaraj's `By the People' a sequel to his trendsetter `For the People' has just opened and there are half-a-dozen sequels getting ready for release. The biggest of them all is Mammootty's `Nerariyan CBI,' an investigative crime thriller written by S.N. Swamy and directed by K. Madhu. Sandhya Mohan has started shooting `Kilukkam Kilukilukkam,' a sequel to Priyadarshan's `Kilukkam.' Later in the year Ranji Panikkar and Joshi are coming together for `Lelam-2,' with Suresh Gopi once again playing Chakochi, the liquor baron. A part four to Mohanlal's `Nadodikattu' is also in the pipeline.

Asks Ranji Panikkar, "What's wrong in making a sequel to a successful film?" Actually `Bharathchandran IPS' saved my career and has given me a new lease of life." `Oru CBI Diary Kurippu' has inspired two sequels and even now there is more juice to be extracted out of it. Explained Mammootty: "Sethurama Iyer has struck a chord with the audience not only in Kerala but also outside the State. He is upright, focussed and uses his brains more than his brawn."

According to Mohanlal, "Sequels are sure hits, as the audience loves to see their favourite characters again and again. Everyone loves rogues and larger-than-life heroes owing to their willingness to take risks and mete out justice. Some of the characters that I have done like Mangalaserry Neelakandan (`Devasuram,' `Ravana Prabhu'), Sethumadhavan (`Kireedom,' `Chenkol') or Adu Thoma (`Spadikam') are basically anti-heroes. If writers and directors are able to provide the same basic elements that made the original movie successful, then the sequels will also work."

One of the cardinal rules of the sequel business is never to tinker with the original. The main attraction of a sequel is that it has a lot of goodwill, awareness and a big star, all which translates into a fantastic opening. A film that opens well at the box-office creates a perception that it is a must-see movie that works to the advantage of the sequels.

And those films that dabbled with the original like `Thirakalkkappuram,' a sequel to the classic `Chemeen' and `Chenkol' (`Kireedom-2') bit the dust at the box-office.

Last week' Jayaraj's `By the People' opened to a lukewarm reception.

About 50 per cent of films getting ready in Hollywood for summer 2006 are sequels, but in India the phenomena is confined to Malayalam as they don't seem to work in other languages.

Lack of good writers

Laments noted writer-director Hariharan, "What Malayalam cinema needs is new scriptwriters as there is a dearth of new ideas. But only they cannot be blamed as we are living in an era of a cultural void."

Another interesting development is that writer T. Damodaran is trying to create a fusion between two of his popular characters and I.V. Sasi will direct `Balaram Vs Taradas.' Says Mammootty with a smile: "Inspector Balram was a no-nonsense cop that I played in the 80's and now he is going after Taradas, an anti hero I played in `Athirathram'! This dual role promises to entertain."

As Alex George of Central Pictures, Kottayam, says, "I feel that it is a good trend as sequels have great curiosity value that will automatically bring in the audience."

* * *

Sequels in the pipeline

`Thommanum Makkalum' - part 2

To be directed by Shafi, produced by Lal Creations.

`Kilukkam' - part 2

Mohanlal will put in a guest appearance as Joji, the tourist guide. Directed by Sandhya Mohan.

`Balram Vs Taradas'

Mammootty plays a dual role as Inspector Balram and Taradas in this action film directed by I.V. Sasi and produced by Liberty Basheer.

`Nadodikattu' - part 4

Producer Antony Perumbavoor is putting pressure on Satyan Anthikkad to do a sequel to the story of two bumbling CID's.

`Manichitrathazhu' - part 2

Fazil is toying with the idea of making a sequel to recreate the world of psychiatrist Dr. Sunny Joseph.

`Lelam' - part 2

Chakochi will be back as a liquor baron in the Ranji Panikkar-Joshi team's sequel to `Lelam.'

`Tenkasipattanam' - part 2

Rafi Mecartin and Dileep are planning a sequel.

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