At this moment you must be celebrating the release of your new film that you also produced. A year ago I was very excited when you were reviving your banner, Pranavam Arts for this film. To Malayalam film buffs this banner needs no introduction. This banner has actually given lot of gems that pushed Malayalam cinema to new heights in terms of cinematic growth.
The first film to be made in this banner was His Highness Abdullah and the last film that released in this banner is Kandahar, which released on Friday. With Kandahar you have officially killed the quality of your banner and the brand. As the title credits started unfolding, the first tag that actually caught my attention was “The Legendary Superstar- Mohanlal”. Then I did not think much about the tag moved ahead with watching the film. A film titled Kandahar is actually an out and out commercial film, yes it also has a plane hijacking plot thrown in to do justice to the title, that too the most twisted way. Major Ravi as a film maker has found a way to make pathetic army films using his Major tag. A film maker who gets to cast two good actors, Bachchan and you, plainly wastes the idea and the script catering to pathetic mass demands without aesthetic sense, quality or taste, expecting audiences to clap at every move of yours. All I could see was audiences getting more and more uneasy in their seats, as the movie progressed. I am not sure which set of your fans love this sort of crap from you ?
What was the idea of using Amitabh Bachchan in a character, when the story remotely does not demand it? What was so extraordinary, that no other actor could play it? Have you lost your sensitivity in a film that deals with plane hijacking, what is the need for the pathetic underwear humour? And Laletta, by the time Major Ravi narrated the script to you, I am sure you realised the film has nothing to do with the Kandahar incident that took place in 1999. Yet you decided to make this film under your established Pranavam banner, I feel Major Ravi continuously making these cheap army films makes him a bigger disgrace to the nation as he appears to be making money out of pseudo patriotism. Yes the icing on the cake, the film also has an item number in a disco. Do you really think the masses love this? Where happened to your taste?
You once played an assassin who reached a royal family to kill the king, and through your mutual passion of music, you and king form an inseparable bond. Forcing you to think whether you should eventually kill the king and turning against the same people who hired you. Below is the scene where you are thinking about whether you should proceed with the murder, when Gowthami comes to you, in her innocence, she tell you whatever you are thinking, she’ll pray for you. Subtlety was your greatest strength then.
Below is a song from Bharatham, the second film of Pranavam Arts, when you played a singer, who is forced to hide his elder brother’s death during his sister’s marriage. The night before the marriage he finds out his brother is dead in a road accident, and when he returns with the news home, the family at home receives a letter saying the brother is in a holy trip to Kashi, you decide not to reveal the news to the family, deciding to wait till the wedding gets over. That’s when the relatives ask you to sing. You go along, hiding the grief. The performance won you the National Award that year. The song still gives me goose bumps.
The above two was just the beginning of Pranavam Arts; you repeated consistent quality in terms of stories, performances in every project of Pranavam Arts with different directors including Priyadarshan, who has no more stories to tell these days. You actually achieved a mile stone when you produced Vanasprastam, when a lot of Kathakali teachers refused to teach you the dance form. They said the scenes that require Kathakali couldn’t be performed by any actor, since it takes years of practice by any artist to achieve that perfection, you proved them wrong.
Vanaprastham was not a commercial hit for you, after which you closed down the banner, but deep inside you could sleep peacefully you opened Malayalam audiences to a different world, something you can proudly show in your body of work. You actually showed your potential, there is no role that you couldn’t handle. Mani Ratnam called you the Gerard Depardieu of Indian Cinema. You don’t need those comparisons; your fans know what you are capable of, be it comedy, intensity or subtlety. You were everyman’s Lalettan then.
Somewhere today you have lost the passion of the actor and artist. Unfortunately the bunch of cronies like Major Ravi and your gang, whom you have been backing off late under Aashirwaad, have lead to your destruction and deterioration in your work. You are surrounded by people who have made you blind with such pointless positioning like Tamil stars who need milk worship. A pathetic bunch of fans actually resorted to idol worship you on every release and decided to give sad tags like Legendary and Universal Superstar, when you were and are our Lalettan, unfortunately none of those stupid fans know what you have done for Malayalam cinema or for what you have achieved in this craft or do they remotely respect you as an artist, with them lot more agendas are at play, I am sure you are well aware, they expect you to ape Bollywood stars, romance young 20 something heroines and want you to send goons flying in the air, when today you should be playing your age, exploring characters your age and pushing the envelope like Pacino or Depadieu. You should be actually thinking of collaborating with artists internationally. When you should be making a Pranavam Arts film under directors with strong voices like Blessy, who force you to break your image, you choose people like Major Ravi who massage your ego. All this makes me worry; I don’t want you to become a Rajnikant and getting lost in the Superstar tag that we no more will get to see our Lalettan who we once knew. You are beyond such tags as an artist. Ever think of the first time you acted?
Here is the actor in you begging the director to complete the film with whatever funds, while the director advises you to believe in yourself and your work. A classic scene from Mani Ratnam’s Iruvar. The film ranks as one of my favourites
Years ago on TV, I watched Guru, directed by Rajiv Anchal, which was India’s entry for Oscars where you played a man who had sight in the land of the blind. The film was one of the most profound films and I could never take it off my mind. In the film, when you loose sight like the others, you are asked to explain what blindness is to the people who can’t see. You talk of a wall that is blocking you, unless that wall breaks…
Even as I write it, I know that this post does not even begin to sum up your body of work, but it pains to see you chase stardom even at this age, no tag will do justice to the biggest tag we know you as, Lalettan (Lal brother). I sincerely hope that you read this letter and return as Lalettan.
Till then, I am assuming in reality you have become blind.