Cinema

Charging forward

A 100 and counting: Dileep in a still from 'Karyasthan.'   | Photo Credit: special arrangement

Admittedly, he has no Greek god looks – something that many would deem to be quintessential for a matinee idol. Nor does he have immaculately chiselled abs. Yet, Dileep is an actor who has defied convention. And with the release of ‘Karyasthan' today, the genial actor celebrates a milestone – 100 films in Mollywood.

“I don't plan things and often I feel that we take life a bit more seriously than we should,” says Dileep, adding that ‘Karyasthan,' which has been directed by debutant Thomson, is “a 100 per cent entertainer with comedy, songs and emotions in the trademark Dileep style.” And that's coming from a man who once dreamed of being mobbed by fans while he was a struggling mimicry artiste.

Gradual rise

Acting was always on Dileep's mind and it was with this aim that he started assisting director Kamal. A few brief appearances in films later, he started garnering audience approval.

He started off with comic supporting roles, then went on to play the friendly boy-next-door roles and finally, the lead in some of the biggest hits in Malayalam cinema.

‘Meesa Madhavan' and ‘Chanthupottu,' arguably two of the most significant films in Dileep's career, were directed by Lal Jose. Lal thinks that the actor found acceptance gradually and that there was a significant change in the audiences' perception of the actor. He classifies Dileep's career into different phases.

“In the first phase of his career, Dileep was doing comic roles such as those in ‘Manathe Kottaram' and ‘Three Men Army.' It was his role in ‘Ezharakkoottam' that took him to the next phase, where he did more significant roles such as those in ‘Sallapam,' ‘Ee Puzhayum Kadannu' and of course, ‘Punjabi House.' The big names in the industry started realising his potential after his work in Lohitadas' ‘Joker' and of course, ‘Meesa Madhavan.' He has not looked back since.”

And now Dileep has also made a mark as a canny producer. “Movies have given me virtually everything in life and it is that thought which gives me confidence to invest in films as a producer,” says Dileep. His ‘Twenty 20,' which he produced for the Association of Malayalam Movie Artists (AMMA) and which featured almost all leading actors in Mollywood, created history of sorts with its bumper collections. “Twenty 20' has become a benchmark as far as box office collections are concerned and we have even thought about making a second part to it,” says Dileep. “Of course, as a producer I get involved in the projects. The market potential of the films is a major concern while selecting the projects and I believe in adhering to the budget that is viable for a Malayalam film,” adds the actor who is also on a high with the success of his recent production – ‘Malarvady Arts Club,' which marked the directorial debut of Vineeth Sreenivasan. His latest production is ‘The Metro,' directed by Bipin Prabhakar.

“Things have proved lucky for him even beyond his wildest dreams,” says comedian and actor Nadirshah, one of Dileep's closest friends right from their initial days as mimicry artistes. “During the shoot of ‘Champakulam Thachan,' for which he was an assistant director, I have seen him going off on a bicycle to buy things for the shoot. It is hard work and dedication that have done wonders for him. He has a tremendous understanding of what the Malayali audience wants,” he adds.

Lal Jose underlines the actor's credentials when he says: “Dileep has carved a niche for himself by doing roles that perhaps no one else could have done. For instance, his roles in ‘Chanthupottu,' ‘Kunjikkoonan,' ‘Ezharakkoottam' and ‘Pachakkuthira.' It is a well known fact that the rights of ‘Chanthupottu' were bought by some big names in other languages but the films were never made. Those are the kind of roles that only he can pull off and that is proof enough of his brilliance.”

The critically-acclaimed ‘Sallapam,' directed by Sundar Das and scripted by Lohitadas, proved to be the much-awaited break for the actor. “We were on the lookout for a naïve hero in ‘Sallapam' and I was impressed by Dileep's performance in ‘Ezharakkoottam.' His comic timing, peculiar gestures and the ability to do emotional scenes are his greatest assets, besides his total commitment to whatever films he is doing,” says Sundar Das.

Director Johny Antony agrees and can't stop talking about Dileep's brilliance in doing ‘action comedies.' “He will do virtually anything to make the character look good. His action-comedy for ‘CID Moosa' worked big time. He has the ability to convert even his shortcomings into advantages,” says Johny.

Comedian Harisree Asokan, who has been Dileep's partner in some hilarious on-screen escapades in several laugh riots, adds: “Dileep has worked on his experience from the mimicry-stages, quite brilliantly.”



Bouncing back

However, all has not always been well for Dileep. A while ago the actor went through a rough patch in his career, with many of his films not doing well in general. Then ‘Pappi Appacha' turned out to be a surprise hit.

Says Lal Jose: “Certain notions become synonymous with the superstar tag. This may have prompted Dileep to experiment, which has backfired at times. Then again that is the price you pay when you become really successful. Nevertheless, he is talented enough an actor to sail through such situations.”

Dileep has an exciting range of films on the anvil. His ‘Christian Brothers,' directed by Joshiy with Mohanlal, Suresh Gopi and Sarath Kumar is nearing completion as is ‘China Town.' He is currently shooting for ‘Marykkundoru Kunjaadu' while Madhu Kaithapram's ‘Orma Mathram' will soon go on the floors. Yes, Dileep has come a long way indeed.


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Printable version | Sep 20, 2021 6:37:25 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/Charging-forward/article15675587.ece

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