Thursday, February 19, 2009

Star wars in Kerala

There are only two mega stars in the tottering Malayalam cinema industry – Mammootty and Mohanlal. (See Malayalam Cinema: Going, going, gone?) They were superstars till a few years back but were elevated to the higher rank. I can’t answer the question ‘by whom’.

It was not like a Lt. General becoming General or a Secretary becoming Chief Secretary. A few of the next in line heroes (some of them are good) were stagnating and required a new label to enhance their market value and someone had a bright idea. Mammootty and Mohanlal were tagged megastars and the others became superstars.

Not that the change made any difference to performance of the actors. Perhaps their rates went up. Histrionic talent wise Malayalam cinema is well stocked. It is just that some of the actors got stereotyped. Anyway, there is room at the top and near the top for all of them. That is, provided the industry survives.

Mammootty and Mohanlal are great artistes by any standards, anywhere, anytime. Who is better among the two is a meaningless question according to me. (Malayalam cinema: Random thoughts)

Any rivalry between them should be on a healthy level. I have not met either of them. I am sure they are decent people who would not involve in petty squabbles. But the same cannot be said of all their fans. Many of their followers are organized into ‘clubs’.

The conflict between the fans of the mega stars came into the open with the release of the star-studded production ‘Twenty Twenty’ promoted by the Association of Malayalam Movie Artists (AMMA). Almost all top actors including Mammootty and Mohanlal are in the cast.

The protest was sparked off by the posters of that film. Mohanlal supporters felt that Mammootty was given more prominence in the publicity material. It is said that the producers brokered an understanding with the agitating fan clubs to enable smooth release of the movie.

But the embers flared again when the Mammootty film ‘Love in Singapore’ opened recently. The star’s head was cut off from the posters, and flexi boards advertising the cinema were destroyed. Replacements also met with the same fate. The opposite camp retaliated in kind when Mohanlal’s ‘Red Chilli’ was released.

I believe that the posters cost Rs.133 each, and flexi boards Rs.60000 each. One can imagine the extent of this meaningless destruction. The poor producers, many of whom are already deeply in the red, have to bear the additional and unplanned expense.

The simple logic the fans should understand is that even the best actor has a stage only if producers are around to risk the money to make movies. That some film makers producing low quality pictures should close shop is another matter.

[This is inspired by a report in the Malayala Manorama Chennai edition of 18th February.]



I would have expected the fans in Kerala to be more level headed than their counterparts in Tamilnadu. When the actors concerned do not seem to be bothered about any one-upmanship, it is a shame that their fans behave like hooligans.

Unknown said...

Thanks, Raji.
I believe that the producers are planning to request the actors to rein in their supporters.

Maddy said...

both of them seem beyond expiry date - if you look at recent movies. mamootty seems to have withstood the travails of time a bit better though..

Ashvin said...

As actors, I have always felt that Mohanlal is more versatile, being able to handle character, comedy and serious roles equally well.... Mammotty can't do comedy at all. and on a personal level of interaction with both, Mohanlal though very very shy in real life (people misunderstand this as arrogance) is much more polite. My personal opinion, so don't shoot me.

Meera's World said...

After watching the mud throwing between Thilakan and Mohan Lal i lost all repsect for the top star.He should have kept his dignity and keep quiet rather than responding to Thilakan in a silly way.
Like someone said these two top stars seems to have a lot of insecurity. I am fed up of watching them,i loved some of their movies but i would like to see some good movies with good stories other than drinking and beating up people in almost never ending fights.