The mention of Dasaratham by Maddy of Maddy's Ramblings in his comment on my post Reproductive tourism & other matters triggered a chain of thoughts on Malayalam cinema in my mind. Dasaratham was a good picture in which Sibi Malayil competently dealt with the daring theme of surrogate mothers. Initially I mixed it up with Devasuram a movie that I liked very much. In my opinion, it was IV Sasi’s finest directorial venture.
But apart from that, what made Devasuram such success? For one, the screenplay by Ranjit. I believe he modeled Mangalasserry Neelakantan on a real life character. Then of course, Mohanlal’s towering performance. Revathi living the part of Bhanumathi with characteristic ease. Innocent in a totally different role – versatile, I must say. The net result was a box office hit.
I am amazed by artistes like Revathi and Suhasini. Their strength is not glamour but great histrionic talent. The fluidity of the face, smile that spreads sunshine, eyes that reflect expressions of life, body movements that are so natural – all these and more put them on a different pedestal. A comparison could be Sharada of the previous generation. Also Smita Patil, Shabna Azmi, Jaya Bachan.
I am not really in touch with the current movies. Two good actresses, Manju Warrier and Samyukta Varma, I believe, are out of action now. Then there is Kavya Madhavan who grew up with the movies. Also a pack of talented young girls of glamour. But the outstanding one, I think, is Meera Jasmine.
Let me deal briefly on the sensitive and difficult to answer question – who is a better actor, Mammootty or Mohanlal. Both have great stage presence and done many superb roles effortlessly. If my memory serves me right, Mohanlal once said words to the effect that Mammootty wanted to be an actor and tried hard to be one, but he (Mohanlal) happened to become an actor by chance. Mammootty seems to have more professionalism. I wonder if either of them could have emulated the performance of PJ Antony in Nirmalyam. Not that such comparison has any meaning.
Normally I don’t read film reviews. For serious viewing I select movies based on three factors – director, script writer and the lead actors. In that order. This criterion has not let me down so far. I have come across some Malayalam movies that are very good.
Also see: A Malayalam cinema and its lyrics.