Lighting up lives

S. Shiva Kumar
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SHORT TAKES Every year around Deepavali there would be so many new films releases. For many days after that our conversations had nothing but cinema

The one and only Half of Nana Patekar's remuneration goes to the Baba Amte's ashram Photo:R.V. Moorthy
The one and only Half of Nana Patekar's remuneration goes to the Baba Amte's ashram Photo:R.V. Moorthy

F ilms are again flopping like no one's business and it's not only in Kannada. The posters of “Yaksha” flaunted Nana Patekar's mug more prominently than the hero's but it didn't help the film. You wonder what attracted the reclusive actor who claims to be selective, of course other than the 75 lakh rupees he pocketed. If you think he's over paid then you must be ignorant of the fact that half his remuneration goes to the Baba Amte's ashram. Nana makes it a point to spend time there and also wears clothes spun by the inmates afflicted by leprosy. That was a worthy digression but there was the other big release “Veera Parampare” starring Ambarish and Sudeep which met the same fate. The combination of two big stars failed to lure audiences thanks to stock scenes and the rhetoric spouted. This made things easier for “Jackie” which is raking it in. Producer Ramu has signed Suri to direct Darshan and has paid him a whopping 1 crore rupees.

There was a time when more than ten Tamil films were released on Diwali day with marquee names jostling for space on Mount Road where posters and hoardings are concerned. The conversations for days would centre on whose films were good which again depended on the popularity of the concerned stars. This year it's been as bright as a wet cracker. The only big star to have his film released is Dhanush whose “Uthama Puthiran” in filmi parlance is being termed a ‘washout'. The much touted “Mynaa” praised by the likes of Kamal Haasan is referred to as a film with ‘good talk but no collection'. It's the same with “Va Quarter Cutting”. The proceedings match the bizarre title. It's about a youth's night long quest for an elusive bottle of liquor. The hero of the film is definitely Nirav Shah whose cinematography is outstanding.

“Ponniyin Selvan”, an epic written by Kalki adorns most showcases in Tamil Nadu. Elders are possessive since they re-read it at will. It's devoured, discussed and analysed to this day with fervour. It has been the dream — though daunting — of many actors and directors to turn it into celluloid. MGR had the rights which passed various hands. Last heard the rights belonged to Kamal. For more than a decade it has been Mani Ratnam's wish to make the film with his favourite actor, Kamal. I remember reading a brief script written by Mani and urging him to hurry. The script is full of fascinating characters, palace intrigue, romance, magic and a swashbuckling hero.

Mani had a great cast in mind with options but to play the hero he wanted only Kamal. I remember suggesting he modernise the plot like Shyam Benegal did with “Kalyug”. Now I hear Mani is planning just that with Kamal, Surya and Vikram. I hope it's true. It will be sheer movie magic. I also hope Mani makes only Tamil films which are what he's comfortable doing. It's all very good to say that cinema has no language but the nuances in the spoken word are a necessary garnishing.

S. Shiva Kumar



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