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Whodunnit

Siddique and Kaviyoor Ponnamma in Black and White

Siddique and Kaviyoor Ponnamma in Black and White  

"DAMMIT, GUESTS came home and I missed the second half."

"Inconsiderate guests. But I don't think you missed much. Did you see that part where he looks at the child's face?"

"Ah... yes, after that what happens?"

So went the dialogue in an office... no, not between two women, but between two gentlemen holding responsible positions in a huge company.

Call it equality of the sexes, if you will, but men are as serial crazy as women, given the opportunity, it would seem; just give it to them, in Black and White.

New phenomenon

This new phenomenon, of men admitting that they do watch this serial, is a new trend in the history of serials. Though many men are known to watch tear jerkers, they mind admitting it. The title song, sung by leading man Siddique and M. Jayachandran, the composer, is on many kids' lips. Background score, quite important for a who-dunnit serial, is by Udayan Anchal.

The Viji Thampy-directed serial, Black and White, telecast every weekday on Asianet, from 8.30-9.00 p.m. has Siddique playing the lead role of master investigator, Scotland Yard-returned.

It's slick, it's pacy, it has no character taking aeons to turn around and the camera does not halt, long and lovingly on any face, eyes, for time to tick away, till the next ad slot. No typecast mother-in-law either, stiffening her entire body and looking daggers at the camera. Maybe that's why it has got good ratings, says B. Unnikrishnan, the writer of the serial, that got under way in its second innings. Earlier, it was once a week, but in its new avatar, it goes daily and takes a break on weekends. The first one, also called Black and White, took off some eight years ago, and that was directed by Viji Thampy, with Siddique playing the lead. Some of them behind the scenes have changed but the director and protagonist stays. "The investigating team is the same and the story changes with fresh characters. I don't repeat the artistes in the very next story," says Viji Thampy. This time, with better technology available, it has succeeded in wooing more viewers, he remarks. "As a lot of the viewers are kids, I do not show much violence, even if it's a murder mystery," says Viji Thampy. In the next story, the artistes are Kaviyoor Ponnamma, Kuttikkal Jayachandran, KPAC Lalitha, and a few others.

The format has changed. A couple of episodes, usually 20-25, are devoted to one case, and then, the investigator takes up other cases (read 25-episodes each). Therefore, there's no lagging. "And no compulsion to view it for months together. Editing is tight, nobody overacts," says V. Nair, a fan. Editing is by Srinivas and the camera, by T. G. Sreekumar. Production Designer Sreekuttan Ambalapuzha has contributed his mite to making it rather close to real.

Christie flavour

Says writer Unnikrishnan, "Agatha Christie's my favourite writer and the concept of one story is from an Agatha Christie novel. Period. The next episode, starting Wednesday next, is an original one, in which Kaviyoor Ponnamma plays a good role."

Siddique, whose histrionic skills are really not fully tapped, has a chance to show much of his potential in this serial, produced by Sreemovies Unnithan.

"Yes, it is satisfying to act in this serial as I am very comfortable with the entire team," says Siddique. Though he is quite busy on the big screen, he will continue to act in this but not in any other serial, he adds. Jagannatha Varma, T. P. Madhavan, Manu Varma, Vijay Menon, Sreeraman, Subair, Kumarakom Raghunath, Sreenath etc donned the various roles of clean and villainous men in the story, about to wind up this week. The next murder and investigation will have a different mood altogether, the makers promise viewers.

PREMA MANMADHAN

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