***Tamil Movie News***

- by Sandya -

Tamil Cinema has been going through a very terrible phase lately.   A phase unlike anything anyone has seen before.  Though producers and directors seem to be putting poojais for new films quite often, none of these ventures reach completion or even see the insides of theaters.  The year 1998 has had a lot of news, unfortunately, not much of the 'good' kind.  Whatever happens, the poojais just keep coming along :-)  I apologize for the long break in the updates in the News section.  I will try my very best to write more frequently in the future :-)

***Padai thiraNdu varudhu... Yappa!... The pillaiyaar suzhi with news about Thalaivar Rajini's Padaiyappa.   Deepavali was pretty dull this year in movie land, until Rajini announced the launch of his next venture, Padaiyappaa on Vijayadashami day.   Like Arunaachalam, a huge sum of Padaiyappaa's box office collections will provide full financial support to students who have completed high school but are unable to attend college due to financial constraints.  During a press conference held recently, Rajinikanth handed the baton to Director K.S.Ravikumar to answer all thePadaiyappa Press Meet questions.   Rajini enjoyed the moments, speaking only once in a while.  KSR samaththaaga divulged that Padaiyappa's story is about a city bred man arriving at a village for the very first time in his life.  KSR and Rajini are currently thinking of some new 'styles' that Rajini could pull off, adding to the 'arasiyal nedi' dialogues already planned in the film.  Nadigar Thilagam Sivaji Ganesan will also star alongside Soundarya (Arunaachalam), Ramya Krishnan (dhideer mousu!), Shalini (who had hoped and prayed that she could debut in tamil cinema as Rajini's pair, now does her second film as his sister) and many others.  Vairamuthu pens the lyrics as A.R.Rahman scores the music. 

But in early 1998, things weren't so rosy as you see above.  Rajini had declared to KSR that he will be the director of his next film as early as Dec. '97 - Jan '98.  It was supposed to be that Thalaivar's Padaiyappa was to have begun shooting in April - May 1998.  Since the FEFSI - PadaippaaLi fight took an ugly turn, they decided to keep mum until KSR released Nattpukaaga in June.   Once the FEFSI - PadaippaaLi fight died down a little, Rajini invited KSR home and gave him a story gist, with which he and his assistant directors could work to write a full screenplay.  Rajini joined them in their screenplay discussions on occasion and gave them his input.  Then came a big offer to KSR to direct Nattpukaaga in Telegu, titled Sneha Desam.  Ravikumar had already committed to Padaiyappa shooting during the call sheet times for Sneha Desam.  Though Ravikumar would not admit it, avar-ukku koozhukkum aasai meesai-kkum aasai.   The producers of Sneha Desam sought Rajini's help, who in turn, (being his perundhanmai self) asked KSR to take the project and finish it.  Now that the telegu film is completed, KSR is free to do Padaiyappa finally. 

Padaiyappa is being produced by Satyanarayana, Krishna Rao and Vittal Prasad and its thodakka vizha/poojai was held at Ragavendra Kalyana Mandapam on October 1st, 1998.  Interestingly, our Thalaivar Rajini packed his bags on a trip to Hyderabad on that day and therefore did not participate in the event.  P.L. Thenappan (remember him from Kaadhala Kaadhala credits), the Production-in-charge, the three producers, Latha Rajinikanth and KSR attended the 'simple' ceremony instead.  Namma Rajini varaar bavani, April 14, 1999-il gavani! :-)

Mudhalvan Poojai***Mudhalvan oru Indhiya Gentleman... Jeans anindha (Manisha-vin) Kaadhalan... Speaking of Rajini not attending the Padaiyappa poojai, surely KSR gave him the 'oru maadhiri-yaana paarvai' when Rajini showed up at Shankar's next film, Mudhalvan's poojai ceremonies in late October.  KSR was definitely curious to know, 'sondha pada poojai-kku varaama, Shankar pada poojai-kku correct-aa vandh-irukeengale?'  It appears that Shankar personally went to invite Rajini to the Mudhalvan poojai.  Rajini tried to jagaah vaangu-fy by saying that he had already planned a tour.  Shankar, as senti as he could be, told him that, with the exception of Gentleman, Rajini had attended all the other poojais and all Shankar's films had turned out well.  Shankar pointed out to Rajini that Mudhalvan would be his first home production and did not want to have the 'kurai' of Rajini's absence at the poojai.  Nammoda Thalaivar, being his perundhanmai self once again :-), agreed to attend the poojai by postponing his tour, as he did not want Shankar to 'kurai pattu-fy.'  As you would imagine, Shankar was just ecstatic, and more so, at having both Rajini and Kamal, on either side of him holding a plate of fruits, goodies and a folder containing the script of the film, which was eventually presented to Shankar, as flower petals dropped from the top of the stage.

As Shankar did not want too much talk going around that he was kanjam because it was indeed a home production, he had an elaborate invitation card (almost the size of a file!) made for the Mudhalvan poojai.  Almost everyone and anyone prominent in Kodambakkam movieland was present to supply their grins and chatter to the poojai.  Producers A.V.M. Saravannan, K.R.G., S. Thanu, A.M. Ratnam, Ramesh Prasad, Pyramid Natarajan, Directors K. Balachandar, Bharathiraja, Maniratnam, R.K. Selvamani, S.A. Chandrasekaran, K.S. Ravikumar, V. Sekhar, Manobala, K. Subash, Liyakath Alikhan, Cheran, Yaar Kannan, Ramesh Kanna, Cinematographer P.C. Sriram, Distributors' Union leader, Sindhamani Murugesan, Actors Rajinikanth, Kamalahassan, Vijaykanth, Saratkumar, Vijay, Napolean, Arjun, Surya, Thyagarajan, Gemini Ganesan, Pandiyarajan, Vijaykumar, Abbas, Manivannan, Raguvaran, Raja, R. Sundhararajan, Music Directors A.R.Rahman, Gangai Amaran, Actresses Manisha Koirala, Kasthuri, Srividya and many others attended the star-studded event.  Arjun and Manisha Koirala star in yet another star-studded expensive masala flick, Mudhalvan, by Shankar, with music by A.R.Rahman, Lyrics by Vairamuthu and Cinematography by K.V.Anand.  Madesh (who Raju Sundharam was named after in Jeans), Shankar's good friend and assistant director has been promoted to be the co-producer of Mudhalvan.   Word is, Madesh is also planning his own directorial debut film with Vijay and Shalini after MudhalvanAdhisayame asandhu pogum, Mudhalvan (poojai) avalavu adhisayam!!!...

***Anbulla Kaadhalukku Australia samarpanam...  Mohan put together a 13 member crew for his directorial debut, Anbulla Kaadhalukku, for a 18 day fun-packed shooting stint in Australia.  As per the story, Mumbai azhagi Megha's family is based in Australia and therefore, a few scenes and sequences for the songs, Ye Ilaya Nilave, Gnaabagam Irukkudhaa and Kalyaanamaam Kalyanam were picturized in Canberra, near the Melbourne seashore and the Federal building.  Mohan had a ball (unlike Shankar who just picturized Telephone Mani pol in Indhiyan in Australia and returned), by being interviewed by a magazine, Camera Times and by Channel Line T.V.   The interview by Channel Line T.V. was also aired in Tamil radio channels in Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Canada and New Zealand.  Mohan also won the honor of having the Canberra Chief Minister, Kate Cornell thodakki vechu-fy the AnbullaMohan & Megha in "Anbulla Kaadhalukku" Kaadhalukku shooting there.  During the shooting, he rented two huge hot air balloons (each for 2 1/2 lakh rupees for 2 hours) for the song, Gnaabagam Irukudhaa.  An eight member crew got into one raakshasa balloon including the cinematographer, Y.N. Murali.  Mohan and Megha got into the other one.  Once the balloon reached a 1000 feet from the ground, all of them started praying about returning safely and in one piece.  As Mohan later had fun relating, Megha, in fear, vaai vittu azhudhay vittaar!..

Unfortunately, but true, that Producer-Director and comeback hero, Mohan has not been able to release Anbulla Kaadhalukku either for Deepavali 1998 or a little afterward, as he had promised.  Probably one of those last minute financial nerukkadis!.. Mohan, Megha (Mumbai), Bhavna (Karnataka), Rasika (last seen in Kaadhale Nimmadhi), Latha, Jayaganesh, Delhi Ganesh, Sowkar Janaki, C.R. Saraswathi, Vadivelu and Srija all star with special appearances by Anandharaj and Visu.  Deva composes the music; the soundtrack seems to be selling like hot cakes, amongst the top ten albums in Chennai currently.  The film promises to have all the good elements: family, love, action and great music, as the story, screenplay and direction are handled by Mohan...  

***Kutti News***

***Vikraman-idaththil chance-ai Kodukkavillai!..   Despite the rumours that Rajini was considering Vikraman to be the director for his next film, Padaiyappa, Vikraman recently declared that neither Rajini nor anyone from his office  had ever contacted him or given him such a proposal.  Vikraman does admit though that the rumour was a major plus for him, as this particular rumour has a lot of prestige and gauravam attached to it.  After all, Rajini padam panna kasakkum-aa yenna?.. Vikraman is also proud that the Padaiyappa reins were given to K.S.Ravikumar, who was a former assistant to Vikraman.  Vikraman admits to his limitations in directing the hindi version of Suryavamsam, titled Suryavansh, starring Amitabh Bachan and Soundarya.  Initially, the film was supposed to be produced by R.B. Choudhri and Padmalaya combined.  It was only under RBC's relentless persuasion that Vikraman accepted the director's spot.  Being a slow worker who goes into shooting with a pakkaa script, Vikraman found himself wasting a lot of time just getting ready for this one Hindi film.  (After all, Vikraman has been so slow enough to direct only 8 films in 8 years).  Moreover, the first schedule of Suryavansh's shooting was postponed indefinitely due to unavoidable circumstances.  Despite continued support from Padmalaya to direct the film, even after RBC left the production team, Vikraman started feeling uncomfortable with translating his tamil script into Hindi and having Amitabh and the rest of the cast deliver dialogues accordingly.  His inability to work with the Hindi language, Bollywood's extremely slow pace alongside RBC departing from the production team, left Vikraman to suggest E.V.V. Satyanarayana as an alternate director and bail out from the project.

***Among the others who are wiping invisible tears over Padaiyappa is Simran.  The woman was really counting on acting with Rajini, especially after she ran around town declaring that she spoke to him only in Marati (and sometimes Kannada, depending on when you ask her about it!) and that he always had kind words for her.  Hopefully, she will get her chance before becoming Mrs. Raju Sundharam.  Meena also has gripes as she was offered the film but was too caught up with full call sheet dates.  Devayani shut up the press by declaring that she was not even approached for the film.  On the other hand, is "Pudukkottai en Thatha-voda sondha Ooru Soundarya," whom Rajini had spoken to as early as Arunaachalam about doing his next film with her.  Soundarya did not hear from Rajini for quite sometime afterward and her call sheets schedule became extremely busy in Andhra.  She prayed to Yezhumalaiyaan that Rajini would not call upon her before the end of 1998.  Luckily, Soundarya cashed in perfectly by finishing all her shootings in time for Padaiyappa in November.  Moreover, Soundarya's smiles have doubled as she is the only heroine to star in both films that Sivaji Ganeshan has committed to recently.  One is Padaiyappa and other is Chinnavaru Mannavaru.  Along with Sivaji and Soundarya, Arjun, Maheshwari, Manivannan, Visu, R. Sundararajan and Srividya star with dialogues by Liyakath Alikhan, direction by newcomer B. N. Ramchandar and music by Geethapriyan.

"Aththai Magan" Poojai***Karthi(c)k's great career is not the only thing people are talking about today!.. Aiyaa neja vaazhkkai-yil Harichandran alla!.. (Literally, en paatti sonna kadhai follows!).. Karthik's family went into major kaLebaram, after his wife Ragini forced him to tie the knot with her sister, who had become pregnant (because of Mr. Navarasa Naayagan).  As if he didn't have enough problems, he went around in his motorcycle, chasing another girl, in hopes of making her his girlfriend.   Frantic to find out who the girl is?..  During the cast decisions for Director Sundhar C.'s Aththai Magan, Karthick seems to have put in a rather strong word for Swathi.  Producers claim that they had asked for Karthick's recommedation, but inside sources indicate that Karthick forced his choice in a 'do-it-or else' fashion.  Vaanmadhi-kkum Sundarapandiyan-ukkum idaiye something daa..doi!...

***Who would believe that a few years ago a drunk like Murali, could now change and become one of the top, most sought after stars in Kodambakkam today?.. That is Murali's reality currently.  He says the past must be left behind, as the future holds films likes Paaraseega Roja, Agaayam, Arimugam and films produced by Kavithalaya, Sivashakthi Pandiyan (Kaadhal Kottai, Kaadhale Nimmadhi) and K.T. Kunjumon.  The aaramba poojai for Paaraseega Roja under the Thara Creations (Dharam Chand Lungat) banner was held in February 1998.   Yet, another poojai for Desiya Geetham was held in March and the film hit theaters this Deepavali.  Word spread that Paaraseega Roja had been trapped and would be dropped.  Producer Lungat says that since the May-June months are extremely hot in the Arab countries, which is the major locale for the film, they decided to postpone shooting and finish Desiya Geetham instead.   The argument seemed illogical considering it is always sweltering in Arab countries.   Murali says that they planned to finish DG first and then begin Paaraseega Roja in December '98.  He insists that the film is not trapped or dropped. Only time will tell.  Among the other prominent films is Agaayam, produced by Sri Dimka Productions (T.T. Thyagarajan).  Nagaraj (Dhinamdhorum) ventures into his second film as the story, screenplay, dialogue writer and director.  Murali, a popular front-runner heroine who has not decided upon, Prakashraj, Manivannan, Sujatha and Delhi Ganesh star as Ilaiyaraja composes music.

***Despite a bomb in Kaadhal Mannan, but a decent run in Aval VaruvaaLa and a big hit in Unnidaththil Ennai Koduthaen, Ajeeth konjam nimmirndhu nirkkiraar!.. He is currently doing three films, including NIC Audios' Vaali withAjeethkumar, Devayani and Heera in "Thodarum"Simran, Unnai Thaedi with newcomer MaLavika (whatever happened to Laila?) and Swathi (Heera gavanikkavum!) under Sundhar C.'s direction for the first time and Thodarum with Heera and Devayani (the Kaadhal Kottai team!)   Unnai Thaedi is produced by Lakshmi Movie Makers' (Unnidaththil Ennai Koduthaen, Priyamudan) and co-stars Sivakumar, Manivannan, Karan, Mouli, Manorama and Srividya with Deva composing the tunes.  Ramesh Kanna, Karthik's best friend in UEKoduthaen and a former assistant to Director K.S.Ravikumar takes the reins of Kaadhal Kottai - Part 2 (Maybe?!) Thodarum, with Ajeeth in wierd glasses and a supporting cast that includes Manivannan, Vivek, Vadivelu, Gemini Ganeshan, Sowkar Janaki, Delhi Ganesh and Senthil.  Ilaiyaraja composes music as the shooting progresses rapidly in Kodaikkanal.

Mahaajiththan Poojai***Kavalaippadu Sagotharaa!!!... No one should be suprised if they were told that Pandiyarajan was tearing his hair apart this year.  With a major flop in Kavalaipadaathe Sagotharaa, one no-show in Kabadi Kabadi (with screenplay, dialogues by gurunaadhar K. Bhagyaraj) and a very tardy November release in Kumbakonam Gopalu (Direction: K.R.), there is every reason to believe that Pandi is tremendously worried!..   Yet, V.C.Guhanathan, whose last directorial outing, Minor Maappillai, was dismal beyond description, still has some hope left in Pandiyarajan.  VCG's latest, Mahaajiththan, might have raised a few eyebrows in its direction as Pandi stars in the title role.  In a very traditional star cast including Vinitha, Rajasri (Karuthamma), Manivannan, Visu, Vadivelu, Hamsavirudhan (Actor Ravichandran's son), the search still continues for the perfect actress to play the role of "Vaddi Varalakshmi" in the film.  The story is written by VCG's better half, Jaya, while VCG takes care of the screenplay, dialogues and direction himself...   

***What happens when you talk too loud and too much?.. You get into a major sandai.. not just the vaai kind, but the kai kalappu kind too... Ask R. Sundararajan and he will definitely tell you that he is one heck of a soup after he and Goundamani got into a huge wrestling match on the sets a few months ago.  Su doesn't want to talk about it now, as he feels that he has talked enough with the press.  To those who ask him if the incident really happened, he 'matter-of- fact'-ly replies: Nerupp-illaamal pugaiyumaa?

***Quotables***

"Indha padaththin subject-ai naan ketirukkiren.  Romba nalla subject.  Indha neraththileye Shankar-kitte naan onnu kettukkaren.  Varuda kanakkil padaththai yedukkaamal, seekiram padaththai yeduththu mudiyunga.  Aana, April 14-aam thaedhi Padaiyappa release aagaradhaala unga padaththai konjam thallai release seiyunga.  Oru varuda-thukku oru padam-nu senjitu-irukken.  Neenga mudhala varadhaa irundhaa sollunga, naan en padaththai thalli pottukkaren!".. - Rajini's humorous comments during the Mudhalvan poojai which was received with applause and laughter by everyone present.

***

Special Thanks to Mr. Muralli from Australia who e-mailed us exclusive photographs of the Anbulla Kaadhalukku shooting in Canberra.

My sources: Anandha Vikatan, Kumudham, Cinema Express.

More on Kamal's Marudhanaayagam, T. Rajendar's Monisha En Monalisa, Vijay's Endrendrum Kaadhal and the Nagma-Napolean starrer, Maaya, next week on Tamil Movie News........

Sandya