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|July 13, 1999||
India sets the tune
Prabhudeva, in fact, had a fleeting meeting with M J when the latter performed in Bombay, but this was supposed to be the real thing -- the dancing brothers and M J being backed by ace music director A R Rahman and dancer-actress Shobhana.
The stage was set and it was spectacular -- only, before the function, M J fell off it and sustained an injury that necessitated him being rushed to hospital.
The show, in true tradition, went on -- Raju Sundaram choreographing the dancers drawn from many countries, and even managing to get them to pull off some intricate, Bharatnatyam style steps.
Asha Bhosle backs Sivaji
Asha Bhosle, no less, will produce a serial on Sivaji.
Nope, not Sivaji as in Chhatrapati -- try Chevalier, instead. The focus of the serial, thus, will be Nadigar Thilakam Sivaji Ganesan -- who, interestingly, is called Sivaji because it was his role as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj that shot him into the limelight.
Asha Bhosle and her sister, Lata Mangeshkar, have been friends of Sivaji for years, and the former had been planning this project for quite a while.
Sivaji, meanwhile, has, after a hibernation, become active on the floors again. His last released film, Mannavar Chinnavar, which co-starred Arjun, didn't do too well at the box office, but he hopes for better results with his underproduction outing, Poo Parikka Varugirom.
Ganesh-Vasant come to life
Conceived by Sujata, the two lawyers -- Ganesh being the sober, intelligent type while Vasant is the way out, flirty foil to his senior -- are the stuff of legend in Tamil Nadu.
And now, they come alive on the small screen in a teleserial produced by none other than Mani Ratnam. Wife Suhasini co-directs with Priya, while Suresh and Vijay Adiraj play the lead roles. Suhasini also plays a major character in the serial.
Suresh made his debut around a decade and a half ago, in Panneer Pushpangal, opposite another debutante, Shanti Krishna, in a tale of love blooming in school.
Another interesting name in the credits is that of Suresh Balaji, son of the producer, Balaji, who specialised in making blockbuster remakes of Hindi hits. Which, incidentally, makes Suresh Balaji the brother-in-law of Malayalam superstar Mohanlal.
Suhasini's small screen directorial debut, meanwhile, was with Penn -- an episodic programme in which each successive episode had a leading actress heading the cast. The likes of Revathy, Radhika, Bhanupriya and Shobhana acted under her direction. Suhasini also directed an episode for Revathy's banner, Telephoto, where Rajiv Menon and Suchitra Krishnamoorthi led the star cast.
Interestingly, director Vasant, who had the megahit Keladi Kanmani and whose Arjun-Meena starrer, Rhythm, is nearing completion, takes his name from the detective Vasant, whose unabashed fan he is.
And word is that his favourite actor, Arvind Swamy, will again head the star cast with Vijay, who is fast emerging as heir apparent to Rajnikant's mantle. In fact, Vijay is called Ilaya Dalapathi, after Rajni's role in the Mani Ratnam-helmed movie Dalapathy -- interesting, then, that Mani has chosen to cast Vijay this time.
Arvind Swamy, meanwhile, is in desperate search of a hit to end a long line of flops. Much was expected of Engineer, which co-stars Madhuri Dixit, but the film ran into financial trouble. Ace director Shankar stepped in to bail the makers out, putting up part of the funds, but the film is still under production and not expected to hit the marquee any time soon.
Harking back to teleserials directed by women, here's another one -- Minsaara Poove, a 52-episode soap being directed by Lakshmi and Saraswathy, the two daughters of director S V Ramanan. The credits are headed by Swarnamlaya -- who, readers of this column will remember, is the lass Mani Ratnam picked up for the female lead in his under-production Alai Paayudhe.
Viralukketha veekkam is a popular saying in Tamil. It is also the name of a film being produced by Thiruvalluvar Kalaikudam, who makes a virtue of producing small budget films, bucking the prevalent trend of megabuck productions.
Kalaikudam has, in fact, made 10 small budget films before this one, and all of them have done well at the box office. This latest focuses on three pairs -- Livingstone-Khushboo, Nasser-Urvashi, and Vadivelu-Kovai Sarala. The family oriented film deals with home budgets, and how differing couples manage their domestic finances, and will be directed by V Shekhar.
Just another day
The film has a simplistic storyline -- an old man is on his deathbed, and his last wish is to see his large brood of children happily married before he breathes his last. This is the cue for the seven pairs -- Karthik-Rambha, Satyaraj-Khushboo, Abbas-Heera Rajgopal, Prabhu-Aishwarya (Lakshmi's daughter, not Rai), Prabhudeva-Roja, Pandyaraj-Kasturi and Vineet-Maheshwari -- to get down to the business of finding each other and settling down to live happily ever after.
The film has been directed by several persons simultaneously, each director handling one bit. To give you examples, K Subhash handles the segment involving Prabhudeva-Roja (Vidyasagar provides the musical score for the song, Shivashiva shankara, featuring this pair), Ponniyin Selva directs the Satyaraj-Khushboo song sequence (Deva coming up with the music for this one, while Sabesh and Anuradha Sriram vocalise), Udayshankar directs the sequences involving Prabhu-Aishwarya and Abbas-Heera, S A Rajkumar wields the baton for a Sujata solo featuring Suvalakshmi, this particular segment being directed by by A R Ramesh.
One climactic song brings all seven pairs together (the shooting of which, we are told, involved the kind of planning that characterises major military exercises), and it is sung by S P Balasubramaniam, Sujata, Mano and Swarnalatha.
The film is expected to hit the marquee any day now.
Trouser Pandi passes away
They called him 'Paari' Venkat because, before entering films, he worked as a clerk at Parry's Confectionery.
The comedian earned rave critical reviews for his role as Trouser Pandi in Thullatha Manamum Thullum, coming up with a brilliant sequence of a street tapori giving directions to a traveller.
His brief foray into films gave joy to many -- till, unfortunately, death intervened. Venkat was on his way back home from Thirunelveli after an outdoor shoot, when his bus met with an accident near Perambalur.
His briefcase contained his address and telephone numbers, his mobile phone was in his pocket, yet the authorities, in a tragic case of messing up, had him buried without ascertaining his identity and informing his family.
It was quite a while before his family and friends managed to trace him. An appeal to the chief minister ensured that the body was exhumed and taken to Madras, for a proper funeral -- eight days after he had died!
The fraternity of comedians in Tamil Nadu are now coming together to raise funds for his wife, mother and two kids. Director-comedian Manivannan was first off the blocks with a personal contribution of Rs 100,000.
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