November the Fourteenth

The thing about November the Fourteenth is that it is the birthday of a popular actress – she has been a favourite among the youth since her debut through Mayookham in the year 2005 along with Saiju Kurup. It was a much appreciated movie even though there were cliches present. Due to cancer and the relapse, Mamta Mohandas hasn’t been much active in the Malayalam movie industry as expected. She was my favourite actress for a long time, and as she returns to the big screen with the movie Two Countries, I wish her all the best! Here is something about a few of her fine movies, as we celebrate Children’s Day in India.

Big B (2007): After Lanka and Madhuchandralekha, came Big B for Mamta Mohandas. Even though there is not much here for the leading actresses in this movie with nobody opposite Mammootty as the main heroine, this one had her catching our attention, thanks to the song “Muthumazha Konjal pole” in which she featured along with Bala. An unofficial remake of the American movie Four Brothers, the movie was more style than anything else, but it surely had Mamta as the main lady to be in the spot-light. That one song will be the first thing I will remember about this movie for sure.

Passenger (2009): After her fine debut in the movie Mayookham, there were many movies in which she caught out attention including Lanka and Big B, but I consider Passenger to be her big role. In this movie, she plays a journalist named Anuradha Nandan who tries to bring to light an influential politician’s secret plot to finish off a group of villagers who stand as threat to him. The movie which talks about the common man’s responsibility to the society, and how he has the right to challenge the system has been effectively portrayed in this movie. The movie works as a social thriller which tells us that we should be responsible.

Kadha Thudarunnu (2010): Another flick in his usual style from Sathyan Anthikad, this one still has the strength to make the desired impact. His 50th film as a director has Mamta Mohandas in the role of the protagonist Vidyalakshmi who runs away with a man from another religion Shanavas (Asif Ali) who is killed a few years after the birth of a child. The rest of the story talks about how she survives later, with no money or help from her relatives who have abandoned her, as an auto-rickshaw driver named Preman (Jayaram) along with local people who struggles with their daily lives decide to help her and her child.

My Boss (2012): Undoubtedly the funniest movie of the year, this one from Jeethu Joseph came before his two big ones Memories and Drishyam. Dileep and Mamta Mohandas made sure that this movie was full fun and among the big comedy entertainers, this one will have a special place. Mamta gave her most memorable performance in the comedy genre in this movie. Rich with the visuals of Kerala backwaters, this was a movie which came up with standard jokes instead of the low level which the genre was following during those days. You will see the comedy scenes from this movie very often on television.

Celluloid (2013): Winning the Kerala State Film Award for Best Film and National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Malayalam, Celluloid also went on to become a hit at the box-office. As the movie tells the story of J.C. Daniel who is known as the father of Malayalam cinema, Mamta plays the character of the protagonist’s wife. The winner of seven Kerala State Film Awards, this movie had Mamta in another memorable character which she managed amazingly well. It is a beautiful, tragic story of a man who tried to make the first Malayalam movie, Vigathakumaran and had to sacrifice a lot for the same.

I hope to see Mamta back in the Malayalam movies very soon. Even though I don’t like the movie Anwar because its original Traitor is a lot better movie with no slow-motion action sequences and having a more believable story-line, “Kanninima Neele” from that particular movie is the best song which she has been part of. I will leave you all with the video of that song. The movie also has another nice song “Kizhakku Pookkum”, but this one with its visuals remain my favourite. I am sure that you will love this one.

TeNy

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What Needs to be Remade

How much do we help of a person in need? Ranjith Sankar’s directorial debut talks about the same in the form the 2009 movie Passenger. He has brought the genre of social thrillers to full power into cinema, and he continued the same into the less efficient Arjunan Sakshi starring Prithviraj Sukumaran and Ann Augustine. Even though that movie also brought a picture of the society and criticized the system from the government to the police and the other people in charge, and reiterated the common man’s need to take the responsibility for the society, it was nothing like Passenger.

He had also shown the problems faced by someone who wanted to start a new business venture in Kerala with Punyalan Agarbattis and a different perspective in Molly Aunty Rocks!. But each and every time we watch Passenger, we realize that none of them can be a match to this debut movie from the same director. It was there on television on the day before yesterday too, and one has to wonder how it manages to be so fresh even after being watched so many times. I have watched it more than twenty times myself, and it was the big reason why I watched Arjunan Sakshi on the first day itself.

In the life of modernity, what is it that we can do for the society?

In the life of modernity and tall concrete, what is it that we can do for the society?

The story has Sathyanathan (Sreenivasan), a common man who works in a private company as the major protagonist. He is one of those simple people who goes to work in the city and comes back to his place in the regular passenger train. He finds happiness in the simple things like the local temple festivals, talking about news with the friends and having a few cups of tea. There is nothing special going on in his uncomplicated, predictable life which goes on and on, as he follows the machanical procedure. But as he is the last among his friends to get to down, one day, he falls asleep and misses the station near his place.

On the day on which he falls asleep, he wakes up to find that he was sleeping for so long, and asks another person Nandan Menon (Dileep) about the present situation. After a few moments of humorous conversations, they get down at the Guruvayur railway station and separates. But as Nandan is suddenly kidnapped by a group of goons in a car, Sathyanathan wishes to help, but is caught in a situation in which he can do nothing. He decides to travel to the man’s place inform his people about the same. But it is about more than what meets the eye, as he is a lawyer fighting a case against the home minister, and his wife is a leading journalist looking into the same case.

The journey of life continues, but at the end, what do we earn?

The journey of life continues, but as we reach that end, what do we earn?

There are no songs in this movie, and there are no stereotypes either. But life of the common man caught in a strange situation is brought to light here in a realistic manner. There is nothing spectacular done by the protagonist, but simple acts, as he goes on to make a difference without trying to be the superhero. There is a certain amount of simplicity in the portrayal of the character by Sreenivasan as he perfectly fits the role of a common man, something which might not have been the case with a superstar added. It is the kind of role which suits him without anything special added to it.

Dileep also plays a role which has no heroism, despite the character consistently trying to bring a change in the society while fighting the powerful politicians and businessmen in a legal way. Meanwhile, Mamta Mohandas has played the role of a determined journalist hoping to bring change in the society, with a lot of strength. Jagathy Sreekumar plays the man who wants to hold on to the political power in any manner possible, and Nedumudi Venu plays the character who is a reluctant helper and he turns the man who realizes his duty as the story gets tougher and things get to the next level. I would love to have Irrfan Khan or Naseeruddin Shah in the lead.

Passenger is a movie which should have been remade in many other languages, and not something like Bodyguard. With its situations, Passenger asks a question to the common audience about why one should help a fellow human being when there is a chance. It asks the common man to understand that one simple help might mean many things, and may be this helping hand can bring a big change in the society. May be someone will think that he or she is not capable of that change, but it is the sincere attempt that makes all the difference in the end because none of us know what results it can bring despite we being the weaker ones. It needs go further like the original Drishyam to be remade like Drishyam in Bollywood.

***The images used in this blog post were taken by me at Aluva (Alwaye) on my Sony Cybershot Camera.

TeNy