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All set for the new season

SREEDHAR PILLAI

The three films, which are set for release this weekend, hope to cash in on the festive spirit in the State.



RAMZAN FARE: It will be a film bonanza for movie goers.

The year 2005 is turning out to be a good year for Malayalam cinema, which has something to cheer about with four blockbusters - Mammootty's `Thommanum Makkalum,' Mohanlal's `Udayananu Tharam' and `Naran,' and Dileep's `Chanthupottu.'

The industry is superstar-driven more than ever before with audience refusing to encourage newcomers and others in lead roles. It can be gauged by the fact that noted producers and directors who were willing to experiment earlier have now switched over to conventional formula films.

Ramzan releases

However, Ramzan 2005 promises to be different with three confirmed releases. During the month-long period of fasting and prayers, Muslims abstain from going to movies and collections are known to take a severe beating during this period, especially in Malabar area, which accounts for 40 percent of the box-office takings.

Second big season

Ramzan also ushers a new season from Id Day (November 3) to February 15, the second big season in Malayalam film industry after the summer holidays (April/May).

This Ramzan, four films were announced - Mammootty's `Rajamanickyam,' Mohanlal's `Vadakkumnathan,' Santhosh Sivan's `Ananthabhadram' and Vinayan's `Boyyfriennd.'

But `Vadakkumnathan' has been postponed by two weeks to a November 17 release. Other than `Rajamanickyam,' the other two films have no superstars and are marketed purely on the strength of its directors. The industry and trade in Kerala hope that `Ananthabhadram' and `Boyyfriennd' become hits and create a new trend.



Scene from Boyyfriennd

Santhosh Sivan, well-known cameraman and director who has made award-winning films like `Malli,' `Terrorist' and `Navarasa' in Tamil, has directed `Ananthabhadram,' his first film in Malayalam. It is a psychological thriller written by Sunil Parameswaran with Pritviraj, Manoj K. Jayan, Kalabhavan Mani, Kavya Madhavan and Riya Sen in the lead.

Ananthabhadram

Says Sivan who is all excited about the film: "My film `Ananthabhadram' is not in the horror genre and is all about transmigration linked to a mythological story, about our culture and traditions. The film is character driven and I have tried to make the film technically and visually stunning."



Rajamnikyam

The songs, set to tune by M.G. Radhakrishnan and Manoj's performance as Digambaran, the arch villain are said to be the highlights of the film.

"I wanted to make a film in Malayalam with a story that is rooted in our culture and I am sure that the audience will feel nostalgic as it has an old world charm about it," explains Sivan.

Vinayan is a gutsy director who is willing to take risks without depending on superstars. He has made path-breaking films within the commercial format. His films like `Vasanthiyum Lakshmiyum Pinne Njanum' and `Karumadikuttan' were huge hits. This time, he has roped in

TV actor

Manikandan, a television actor making his debut on the big screen, along with Sreenivasan, Lakshmi Gopalasamy, Mukesh and Madhumita in `Boyyfriennd.'



Ananthabhadram.

It is a touching story that depicts a special bond between a mother and son, set against the backdrop of a recent political happening. A highlight of this film is that playback singer K.J. Jesudas makes a special appearance after many years. He sings and acts in the film. The music is by M. Jayachandran.

Says Vinayan: "For me, content is more important than superstars. It is the story and packaging that matters more and I have been able to prove it with my earlier films."

Mammootty's `Rajamanickam' is touted as the Ramzan biggie with the superstar playing the title role of a neglected boy's rags to riches story.

It is a commercial mass masala movie with peppy songs and high voltage action scenes. All of Mammootty recent potboilers like `Thommanum Makkalum' and `Taskaraveeran' had taken fantastic openings. `Rajamanickam' has Padmapriya, Rahman, Ranjit, Manoj K. Jayan, Salim Kumar and Sindhu Menon in the cast. The film is directed by debutant Anwar Rasheed, music by Alex Paul and script by T.A. Shaheed. Says Rasheed, " This family entertainer has been packaged with comedy, sentiments and action and is sure to appeal to all class of audience.

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