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Return of the superstar

Vijay George
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On Location Sreenivasan reprises his role of unctuous screen idol Saroj Kumar in Sajin Raghavan's ‘Padmasree Bharat Dr. Saroj Kumar.' Vijay George

R eel superstar Saroj Kumar had viewers in splits with his pompous antics on screen in the 2005 blockbuster ‘Udayananu Tharam.' Now the character that was essayed with élan by Sreenivasan is all set to make a comeback in debutant director Sajin Raghavan's new film ‘Padmasree Bharat Dr. Saroj Kumar,' the shooting of which is progressing at Vaikom.

Not a sequel

“‘Padmasree Bharat Dr. Saroj Kumar,' is not a sequel to ‘Udayananu Tharam,'” says Sajin, adding: “In fact, it has nothing to do with the film save for a few characters such as Saroj Kumar (Sreenivasan), his confidant Pachaalam Bhasi (Jagathy Sreekumar), producer Babykuttan (Mukesh), and actor Rafeeq (Salim Kumar). Udayabhanu (Mohanlal), the hero of the earlier film, is now a successful director in Bollywood and doesn't make an appearance in this story. Who wouldn't like to peek into the real lives of reel idols? This film is all about the off-camera life of Saroj Kumar.”

The location for the day is a plush bungalow, which is Saroj Kumar's residence in the film.

In the scene being shot, Saroj Kumar and Pachaalam are in the midst of a huge fight and both of them are running down the stairs. Cinematographer S. Kumar is busy capturing the visuals from various angles and the actions are being monitored by stunt master Thyagarajan.

“Saroj Kumar is plagued with insecurity about how he can survive in the industry, what with new, better looking actors coming up, and experimental films taking over his once popular box-office success formulas. He constantly alters the scripts to suit his image during the shooting of his films and behaves as if only he knows the recipe to churn out hits,” says Sreenivasan, who is also the film's scenarist.

As with ‘Udayananu Tharam,' is it likely that some of Saroj Kumar's character traits in this film will be caricatures of real-life superstars? “Hopefully, there won't be any controversies of that sort. The film is about how a hugely popular screen idol who is used to everyone pandering to him would behave in certain situations,” says Sreenivasan.

The navarasams taught to Saroj Kumar by Pachaalam was one of the most memorable scenes from ‘Udayananu Tharam,' and veteran actor Jagathy Sreekumar seems excited about an encore the character. “I don't need to do any homework as the character is still afresh in my mind. The film is a satire rather than an out-and-out comedy. In the film, Pachaalam is still closely associated with Saroj Kumar but his job profile has changed quite drastically. He is now quite well off. But then, at the end of the day, coming into money will not really change your nature!” says the actor with a laugh.

The other main characters in the film are Saroj Kumar's wife Neelima (Mamta Mohandas), his make-up man/manager Muttathara Babu (Suraj Venjarammoodu), and an up-and-coming young hero named Shyam (Vineeth Sreenivasan). The shooting will be completed at Hogenakkal, Chennai, and Hyderabad.

‘Padmasree Bharat Dr. Saroj Kumar' is being produced by Vyshakh Rajan under the banner Vyshakha Cinemas. Lyrics by Anil Panachooran have been composed by Deepak Dev. Still photographer is Momi.


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