Director: Roshan Andrews
Music: Deepak Dev
Cast: Mohanlal, Meena, Sreenivasan, Jagathy, Lohithadas
When scriptwriter Sreenivasan is in form – it’s a treat. It’s a greater joy when he garnishes his writing with a superlative performance as an actor.
“Udayananu Tharam”, directed by debutant Roshan Andrews, has the trademark Sreenivasan touch: a telling insight into the subject and a self-deprecatory humour.
Agreed that this is megastar Mohanlal’s film, but it has Sreenivasan stamped all over it. “Udayananu Tharam” is a scathing commentary on life in the Malayalam film industry where quality is at a nadir because of the superstar craze.
Directors and scriptwriters, who once ruled the roost, are relegated to the background as films are made to suit stars’ images and their cronies’ whims.
The film is about an assistant director, Udayabhanu (Mohanlal), struggling to make a mark as a writer-director. Sreenivasan plays Rajappan Thengamoodu, a struggling actor, who steals and sells Udayan’s script to a top producer on condition that he will play the hero.
Rajappan becomes superstar Saroj Kumar on the strength of Udayan’s story. The scriptwriter, on the other hand, is shattered.
The dim-witted Saroj Kumar, aided by his manager Phachallam Bhasi (Jagathy Sreekumar), manipulates others to sustain his stardom.
Ironically, Udayan gets his first break on the condition that Saroj Kumar will be the film’s hero.
Sreenivasan has peppered the story with real life incidents. He does not spare the two reigning superstars of Malayalam cinema, Mammootty and Mohanlal, even though the latter is the film’s hero.
Udayan’s character seems to have been inspired by Blessy, who had struggled as an assistant director for two decades before making a remarkable debut with “Kazhcha” last year.
Sreenivasan is perhaps a little late in tackling this subject. Last year has seen some sanity creeping back into the Malayalam film industry, although it is still to free itself from the clutches of the two ageing superstars.
Mohanlal gives a restrained and dependable performance as Udayan. But it is Sreenivasan who steals the thunder with his over-the-top act as the megalomaniac superstar.
The supporting cast, consisting of Mukesh, Jagathy Sreekumar and Salim Kumar, have done well. But the much-hyped cameo by director Lohithadas as director Prathap is quite lacklustre.
Meena makes a mark as starlet Madhumathi, who marries Udayan. Later they separate and she goes on to become a huge draw in other southern film industries. Does her character remind us of Meera Jasmine?
Deepak Dev’s music fits the subject well. The film-within-a-film concept is handled deftly by debutant Roshan Andrews. He does not resort to any unnecessary gimmicks or spoofs that the theme could easily have inspired.