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Clipping (47kbs) - Screen, . By B. Mani

Record Number : A0060207

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AN admirer of Malayalam star Mommootty I would like to put forward my views on this celebrated Kerala actor who is not as acclaimed as his credentials permit him. This is probable due to two reasons. One is due to the geographical disadvantage of Kerala as a result of which many good Malayalam films have gone unnoticed on the national scene. The other is what is called the James Stewart syndrome. “The guy acts so naturally that people don’t believe that he is acting.” But the fact remains that Mammootty remains one of the few actors in India who can make a film run to packed houses without resorting to sex, songs, vulgar dialogues and other crudities that are resorted to by Indian popular cinema.

Mammootty, whose real name is Ismail Mohammedkutty, made his debut in K.G. George’s ‘Mela’. He entered the scene when Malayalam cinema was going through video blues and no star could sell a film. Mammootty fitted the conventional expectations in looks and build and bore the authority of a confident competent actor. He immediately struck a rapport with the masses and became popular in a relatively short time. ‘Adiyozhukkukal’, ‘Sandhyakku Virinja Poove’, ‘Yatra’, ‘Nirakkoottu’, ‘Koodevide’ and ‘Kanamarayathu’ were some of his earlier hits. It must be said that during these years Mammootty gradually changed the format of Malayalam films. The songs were rooted out and even the commercial films were given touch of realism with the backing of competent acting and taut screen play. Mammootty always. had a touch, no-nonsense approach towards his films. But there soon followed a lull in his career towards the mid-eighties. It was during this time ‘Thaniyaarthanam’ (Siby Malayil) and New Delhi (Joshy) were released.

‘Thaniyavarthanam’ was a brilliant film in which Mammootty gave a sensitive performance as a man driven to madness by the rural society. But ‘New Delhi’ cornered all the lime-light especially when it was released outside Kerala. How the earlier mentioned geographical disadvantage of Kerala works can be easily explained from the fact that the Hindi version of ‘New Delhi’ not only won good reviews but it also fetched some awards for Jeetendra whose performance was nowhere as effective as Mammootty’s. Later the film was remade into Telugu and Kannada. In 1988, following ‘New Delhi’ Mammootty stunned audiences in Madras with some of the most casual acting ever seen on the Indian screen. The film was ‘Oru CBI Diary Kurippu’, a songless, actionless film which went on to become the biggest hit of the year in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. And for the first time a Malayalam actor was popular outside Kerala and Mammootty quietly established a name among the Tamil audiences. During this time he was also looked upon as a politically lethal actor. 1989 was undoubtedly Mammootty’s best year as Mammootty rallied off a string of hits with superb performances. The films were ‘Mahayanam’, ‘Mukthi’, ‘Utharam’, ‘Marigaya’, ‘Vadakkan’, ‘Veeragatha’ and 'Mathilukal'.

This year Mammootty already has two hits in ‘Inspector Balram’ and ‘Amaram’, an artistically accomplished film. Mammootty has an important role in Mani Rathnam’s 'Dalapathy' and he is also doing a Telugu film with K. Vishwanath. He has also reportedly signed a Hindi film to be directed by Iqbal Durrani. He is also acting with Kannada superstar Vishnuvardhan in ‘Kauravar’ (Malayalam), a much awaited film directed by hit maker Joshy.

Perhaps the greatest tribute ever paid to Mommootty may have come from a Tamil housewife who, in a letter to a Tamil film magazine, had mentioned that she was studying Malayalam to enjoy Mammootty’s films.

For the benefit of Screen I would like to list Mammootty’s best efforts: ‘Oru Vadakkan Veeragatha’ (Hariharan),’Mrigaya’(I.V. Sasi), 'Kanamarayathu' (l.V. Sasi), ‘Yatra’ (Balu Mahendra), ‘Mukthi’ (I.V. Sasi), ‘lyer The Great’ (Bhadran), ‘Thaniyavarthanam’ (Sibi Malayil), ‘Mathiwgal’ (Adoor Gopalakrishnan), ‘Dinarathrangal’ (Joshy), ‘Pumukha Padiyil Ninnayum Kaathu’ (Bhadran), ‘Amaram’ (Bharathan) and ‘New Delhi’ (Joshy). B. Mani Trivandrum







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