Udayananu Tharam: Mohanlal, Roshan Andrews Film

Udayananu Tharam is a 2005 Malayalam movie which presents the South Indian (especially the Malayalam) film industry through a satirical viewpoint. The financial and artistic crisis which plagued the once glittering Malayalam film industry during the turn of the 21st century lies at the centerpoint of this movie. The film which appears to have resemblance to two Hollywood movies Bowfinger and Big Fat Liar is about plagiarism. The movie was later remade into Tamil and Hindi namely Vellitherai and Shotkut-The Con is On respectively.

Cast and Crew

Language: Malayalam
Genre: Drama | Comedy
Banner: Carlton Films
Director: Roshan Andrews
Producer: C. Karunakaran
Story: Roshan Andrews
Screenplay, Dialogue: Sreenivasan
Cinematography: S. Kumar
Art director: Rajeev
Editor: Rajan Abraham
Lyrics: Kaithapram
Music: Deepak Dev
BG Music: Ouseppachan
Distribution: Carlton Release
Release: 21 January 2005
Certification: U
Running Time: 2 hrs 42 min.
Budget: 2.75 crore
Cast: Mohanlal, Sreenivasan, Meena, Mukesh, Jagathy Sreekumar, Cochin Haneefa, Salim Kumar, Bhavana, Indrans, T.P. Madhavan, Janardhan, Lohithadas, Anand

It’s the time to rejoice. The moribund Malayalam cinema has come alive with Rosshan Andrrews Udayananu Tharam as it is one of the best films in recent times that have combined mainstream film aesthetics with international cinematic sensibilities.

Udayananu Tharam marks the directorial debut of Rosshan Andrrews, a long time struggling assistant director who has taken some incidents from his life and along with Sreenivasan has come out with a solid script and screenplay that makes it work with the masses.

It is a light-hearted comedy that takes a satirical look at the tinsel town. It depicts the struggles of Udayabhanu brilliantly portrayed by Mohanlal who is an assistant director and script writer aspiring to make it big but thwarted in his attempts by a scheming friend and junior artist Rajappan Thengamoodu ( Sreenivasan ) who steals his script to become a superstar!

Udayananu Tharam is nothing more than a look at the seamy side of film making and machinations in the reel world. But the film works because Rosshan Andrrews chose to talk about a world and people he knows about firsthand. The characters look real and the conversations sounds real. What sails the film through is it sense of humour and a riveting climax.

Lights, Camera, Action…. Its Showtime, folks! Udayabhanu (Mohanlal) is a struggling script writer and has been an assistant to big directors like Pratapan (Lohitadas). Udayan is an honest, hard-working, disciplined and a do-gooder to friends and struggling junior artists like Rafique (Salim Kumar). Now Udayan has just completed the script of his maiden film which he considers “to be a masterpiece with a stunning climax”.

Enter Rajappan Thengumoodu (Sreenivasan) a scheming junior artist who has shown his “face” in a few films without any dialogues. He gatecrashes into Udayan’s one-room upper floor and requests him to provide a place to stay for a few days, as he was thrown out of his previous accommodation as he ran out of money. Rajappan also pleads with Udayan to cast him as the hero in his debut film, but Udayan says: “with his ugly face and lack of acting abilities it would be a foolish move”.

Soon Rajappan steals Udayan’s “masterpiece”, makes a Xerox and approaches a leading producer (Cochin Haneefa), with the script who takes him to a top director Pratapan. Nobody wants to cast Rajappan as the hero, but he insists that if his script has to be used, he has to be the hero. So Pratapan reluctantly makes him the hero and the film becomes a super hit!

Rajappan changes his name to Saroj Kumar and gets groomed in acting and dancing from the famous Pachalam Bhasi (Jagathy) and becomes a superstar. Meanwhile Udayan learns about Rajappan’s treachery, but he can do little about it. At the same time leading actress Madhumati (Meena) who was groomed by Udayan (shades of Lohitadas- Meera Jasmine relationship) has fallen out with her wicked brother and father (Janardanan) who was using her like a milch cow. She finds solace and peace with Udayan who is much older to her. One day Madhumati walks out of her house and moves in with Udayan as his wife.

The industry blames Udayan for curtailing Madhumati’s acting career and he becomes a wreck without reaching anywhere. Saroj Kumar and his assistant thwart all Udayan’s moves and soon Madhumati walks out on him. Then Baby Kutty (Mukesh) a producer and admirer of Udayan who was to produce his “masterpiece” save him from alcoholism and rehabilitate him. Baby Kutty is willing to give him one more chance, but the distributors want him to cast top hero Saroj Kumar.

Finally Udayan compromises as Baby Kutty says – “there are no permanent friends or enemies in the film industry”. But the evil and petty minded Saroj Kumar decide to make life miserable for Udayan during the making of the film and in the end walks out without doing the climax scene! What follows is the actual racy climax of the film with a great twist, which the viewers have to find out.

The most refreshing thing about Udayananu Tharam is that it is not made like a typical Mohanlal mass masala and does not have a larger than life characters, punch lines, item numbers or exaggerated heroism. Writer Sreenivasan and director Rosshan traces Udayan’s dreams and progresses in a realistic manner. The wry passages and the swipes at the superstars are gingerly executed.

If Udayananu Tharam works, it is because of the finely calibrated performance of Mohanlal. He laces his portrayal brilliantly as a loser who triumphs in the last reel with humour, dry wit, pathos which makes the character endearing. And Sreenivasan is the perfect foil as the scheming cunning sleaze ball superstar. What a power house of talent, Sreenivasan is, as an actor and writer.

Meena is splendid, pitching her act just right as the actress who gets milked by her family. Top line work is elicited from S.Kumar’s camera work, which makes Ramji Rao studio’s in Hyderabad look like a foreign location. Deepak Dev’s music is soothing and appropriate to the story.

The film harks back to the golden era of Malayalam cinema of the late 70’s and early 80’s when you had writers directors like Padmarajan and Bharathan, who made meaningful films within the commercial format. Don’t Miss it.

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