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The udayananu tharam Movie Review

A blend of cinematic aesthetics and audience sensibilities
Rating: 4/5

Make no mistake about it. The Roshan Andrews-directed Udayananu Tharam (Udayan is the Star) has the superhit stamp written all over it.

The movie, which has given Megastar Mohanlal a timely leg-up, is raking in the moolah. Film industry corridors are agog with the talk that it is on the way to becoming the biggest-ever box office hit in the annals of Malayalam film history. Reports have it that in the first two weeks itself, the film has collected an astounding Rs 3.15 crore! And the people are still packing themselves in! This is something which Mohanlal's earlier top-grosser and the current collection record holder, Narasimham could not do.

It is not difficult to divine the reasons why Udayananu Tharam has become phenomenally popular. It belongs to a special genre, and is refreshingly free from the standard ingredients that go into the making of a Mohanlal movie. No larger than life role for the Megastar. No punch-packed dialogues that he normally mouths, and not even the titillating sex that had become the bane of Mohanlal movies in between.

Instead, Udayananu Tharam takes a subtle swipe at the superstars, their idiosyncrasies, foibles and king-size egos. It would be no exaggeration to say that the film attempts a delectable dig at the politics within cinema - nay, the cinema within the cinema! And all in a manner that does not hurt. The aim is to make a wholesome movie that entertains even as it educates and informs. The salvoes are aimed at the intrigues, backbites and manipulations that oil the “wheels within the wheels” in the movie world.

Full credit must be given to the trio - Mohanlal, Sreenivasan and Roshan Andrews - for fashioning a film that is a judicious blend of cinematic aesthetics and audience sensibilities.

Sreenivasan's skill at spinning out super scripts is too well known to bear repetition. He has proved it times out of number. In Udayananu Tharam, Sreeni, who also plays the hero, has penned pointed dialogues that hit the target with telling effect. A few instances from the film are in order to illustrate the point.

The hero's life and times bear a striking resemblance to that of young actor Dileep. For instance, like hero Rajappan Thengamoodu, Dileep also began his career as an assistant director and a junior artist. Again, like Dileep, who changed his original name Gopalakrishnan to impress the audience, the hero of Udayananu Tharam also adopts a new name: Saroj Kumar.

Then again, Saroj Kumar cannot dance for nuts. A not-so-veiled reference to Megastar Mammootty's aversion to doing the dance sequences. The hero also sports flashy and trendy clothes - another Mammootty weakness.

The hero is a businessman too - the business of exporting food items to Gulf countries. He does not mind using his face - in Narcissist delight - on the labels of his products as a promotional ploy. Mohanlal does the same: packets of the megastar's pickles, jams and masalas sport his photos!

Interestingly, even director Roshan Andrews struggled a lot as an unsung assistant director, before making his presence felt. The film incorporates certain incidents from his life, too.

The protagonist, Udayan (Mohanlal) is a struggling assistant director and script-writer, who wants to make it big. Udayan is nothing if not a do-gooder. He does not shy away from helping friends and struggling junior artists like Rafique (Salim Kumar).

After enduring untold sufferings, Udayan completes the script of his maiden film “a masterpiece with a stunning climax”, in his own words!

Rajappan Thengamoodu, a struggling junior artist takes refuge in Udayan's one-room house with a request that he be allowed to stay for a few days. He had been thrown out of his earlier place for want of money to pay the rent. Rajappan also wants Udayan to cast him as the hero in his debut film. Udayan, however, cold shoulders him, saying he neither has the looks nor the acting skill to make it big on the reel.

A rebuffed Rajappan steals Udayan's “masterpiece”, and accosts a leading producer (Cochin Haneefa). The producer takes him to noted director Pratapan. Since he does not have the looks, nobody agrees to cast Rajappan as the hero. But Rajappan's resolve pays in the end. He sets a condition: anyone wanting to use his script should make him the hero! So Pratapan reluctantly makes him the hero. As luck would have it, the film becomes a super hit!

Success goes to the head of Rajappan, who becomes Saroj Kumar overnight. The famous Pachalam Bhasi (Jagathy Sreekumar) is drafted to teach him acting and dancing.

Udayan realizes Rajappan's raw deal to him, but he is in no position to avenge the humiliation. In between, leading actress Madhumati (Meena), who was groomed by Udayan, walks out on his brother and father (Janardhanan), making merry on her hard-earned money. Distraught Madhumati finds comfort in the company of Udayan, whom she marries with the passage of time.

Then the tide turns. Udayan is blamed for ruining the career of Madhumati. His dream of making a masterpiece movie in shambles, Udayan slips into depression and alcoholism. Saroj Kumar and his assistant strain every nerve to harm Udayan. The unkindest cut comes when Madhumati leaves him.

Then turns up Udayan's saviour -- producer Baby Kutty (Mukesh). The kind-hearted Baby Kutty encourages Udayan to make his masterpiece. But the distributors set the terms - the hero must be Saroj Kumar! Udayan makes a compromise on the advice of Baby Kutty.

What follows is a nightmare for Udayan as Saroj Kumar drives him crazy with his 'nakhras' during the making of the film. The superstar refuses to do the climax scene. Udayan is left to take things to the logical conclusion. The manner of his achieving this is best left for the viewer to watch! The momentous message is also: at the end of the day, it is the director who disposes. All said and done cinema is the art of the director.

As mentioned earlier, the film's success is due to the terrific trio - brilliant acting by Mohanlal, the surety of touch of debutant director Roshan Andrews and the super script of Sreenivasan. If Mohanlal is sublime in portraying the pain of a loser, Sreenivasan is a foxy foil as the mean manipulator. Even Meena, no great shakes as an actress, comes out with a dignified performance.

S. Kumar's camera work is top-class while Deepak Dev's music meshes well with the mood of the story.

Verdict: All said and done, Udayananu Tharam is a shining star in the Malayalam film firmament. Not to be missed.

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