Thursday, July 16, 2009

The big M s of Kerala

The two of them find themsleves in the list of the best five actors in the country. They have been in the Malayalam film industry for more than 25 years. The two have earned 7 national best actor awards between them and the Indian Government had honoured them with the prestigious Padmashree. No role is considered challenging to these acting titans and they have mesmerized even non-Malayalees with their acting versatility. But in the last 10 years...What has happened to the aging superstars of Mollywood? I have heard scores of people saying a zillion times- " It is time for them to call it a day"? Do you really believe that Mammootty and Mohanlal should retire..? Let us analyze...

To me , they are the greatest stars of all time. I have grown up seeing their films.. Malluwood had its golden age during the 1980s when the two M's seized opportunity after opportunity and churned out characters with amazing ease. Be it the Sethumadhavan of Kireedam, Chathiyan Chanthu of Vadakkan Veeragatha , the mesmerizing psychatrist " Sunny" of Manichitrathazhu or the media baron G.K from the superhit movie New Delhi, the two artists have spell bounded the audiences time and again. The two M's were a welcome relief from the genre of " overacting" movies of the 1960s and 1970s. Though I have been biased towards Mohanlal ( do not ask a Trivandrumite why he/she is biased towards Lal), I have equally enjoyed Mammootty films also.
Fast forward to the late 1990s, the early 2000s and the recent times. Mammooty is 55 and Lal has almost turned 50. There is a young Prithviraj who is 25 years old and trying to get a solid break. Though Suresh Gopi and Dileep are in the top too, they do not pose any threat to the two M's.
Malayalee audiences are getting pissed off with the kind of crappy movies that are being made in the last few years. Both Mammootty and Lal have let the audiences down considerably. The younger audiences are tilting towards Tamil and Bollywood films while the older audiences prefer to stay at home and not waste their money. I feel that the game is up for the two M s the way they are going. One looks like a businessman doing a side business of acting and the other like a jaded person who is just a shadow of his former self. Whether the two would still prefer to sing duets with heroines half their ages is a matter of personal choice. But if they would like to have an inkling of audience reaction, I would suggest them to watch their movies in theatres ( of course after the initial hype and hoopla).
By no means an average Malayalee film lover is suggesting that the two M s should retire. Our industry is blessed to have these amazing actors. We are only suggesting that they should act in meaningful cinema and act in roles that do justice to their plethora of talent. Artists have a commitment to society and frankly they do not have any retirement age. However, there should be a limit to the buffoonery on screen in the name of acting. Remember- dancing with younger heroines do not make the two M s any younger. They are just making a mockery of themselves. I still believe that these great actors have years of career ahead of them. But they should select their roles wisely. At this point in the careers I have no reason to believe that Mammotty andLal are acting for money. There is no point acting in 6 to 7 trash films in a year. Instead they should act in a maximum of 2 films that are likely to be well appreciated by the audience. If the superstars get 60 lakhs per film, they typically earn around INR 4 crore per year. By acting in lesser number of films, I strongly believe that they will be able to command a higher market price and eventually make almost the same amount of money annually. The tamil superstar Rajanikanth acts in a film only once in 2 years and Hindi star Amir Khan acts only in one film per year.

If Mammootty and Mohanlal want their right place in history , they should take a break. Let the younger lot also spread their wings... After all, that is the basic law of nature...Otherwise the two actors may find themselves in a place where they are condemned by even their die hard fans.

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