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{mosimage}I have always been saying that Kamal is my favourite Malayalam director and I go to his movies irrespective of the cast and comments, only for his name. Most of the time Kamal didn't disappoint me. I just want to share a small introduction about him to you all. Kamal, whose real name happens to be Kamaludeen, started independently as film maker 19 years ago with "Mizhineer Pookkal", after assisting different schools of cinemas like Bharathan, P.N. Menon, K.S. Sethumadhavan. Their diverse backgrounds helped Kamal in assimiliating the best of the worlds combining creative sensitivity with commercial sensibilities that enables his products dearer to classes as well as masses, aiming for both box office and critical acclaims.

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{mosimage}Basking in the success of two of his latest films, director Kamal is not content to sit back and relax. He is into his next project and shaping the script at home, at Kodungalloor. He had made 35 movies till date with one in Tamil and Hindi each, the rest in Malayalam. "Never take rest, never rest on laurels" is the secret of Kamal's success. Kamal has an astounding success ratio of 90% with 23 silver jublilees. Simple, Soft spoken and modest, not letting success over his head, Kamal still makes films like a diligent newcomer and gets himself contemporary with times.

Prithviraj, who had worked with Kamal in the campus hit "Swapnakoodu" says "When we go to set we (Kunchacko Boban, Jayasurya, Meera Jasmine & Prithviraj) will try to behave like a college goers, while Kamal will still comedown a level more like a pre-degree student." Thats why his movies celebrate youthfulness, an ever changing characteristic found in Yash Chopra & K. Balachander only. Kamal made 3 campus hits "Niram" with Kunchacko Boban & Shalini, "Swapnakoodu" with Kunchacko Boban, Prithviraj & Meera Jasmine and the last one being "Nammal" with all new star cast riding solely on Kamal's name. At the times of Malayalam movies' identity crisis came these movies, people started associating Kamal with campus movies. "But these are the only campus movies I made. I make sure that I do a totally different subject after one film usually. For instance, `Rappakal' is a story about a big family, about roots, while `Perumazhakkalam' was a movie about two women who faced opposing situations, a different ambience," he says.

Filmography

{mosimage}Kamal always love to experiment by shifting the subjects. When riding high on the success of "Niram" he made his offbeat dream project "Madhuranombara Kaatru", which is based on his favourite novel "Swapnagalil Kaatru Veeshi.." with Samyukta Varma & Biju Menon in lead. At times of his high box office command he made a telefilm "Meghamalhar" with same pair. Asianet TV which funded the project, decided to release it in theatres that set a trend at the box office, which even Kamal wouldn't have dreamt of. Kamal says that `Meghamalhar,' which depicted the romance between two married persons, was accepted by the audience. Why? "Because there was a bit of hypocrisy involved. When they found that they were falling in love, they cut the relationship and that was something that our society approved of," he laughs. Had they gone on with the relationship, the film might have bombed.

Kamal has an envious track record of handling subjects ranging from tragedies to comedies, campus love to matured love & even extra marital affairs. If "Niram", "Nammal" and "Swapnakoodu" celebrated campus love, his poetic "Meghamalhar" discussed about two mature individuals falling in love out of marriage. "Mazhayetthum Mumbe..." & "Ee Puzhayum Kadannu" were about the sacrifice for lover's family whereas "Manjnu Pol Oru Penkutty" was about tackling incest relationships. His "Ulladakkam" was a psychological thriller while "Kaikoodanna Nilaavu" was an out and out emotional thriller. "Gramaphone" is about a musician's return to his roots. "Perumazhakalam" was bold in its own terms conspicous by the absense of male leads. Kamal designs the looks of his movies beautifully. If "Ee Puzhayum kadannu", "Kaikoodanna Nilaavu" and "Rappakal" were typically rustic with that "Naadan" flavour of Kerala, "Niram", "Swapnakoodu", "Nammal" and "Manjnu Pol Oru Penkutty" will put any Bollywood movie to shame at its shoestring budget.

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Another secret of Kamal's success can be attributed to his knack of spotting the right subjects. He is not insistent about writing his own scripts, but chooses it from other talented writers like Lohitadas, Dr. Iqbal Kuttipuram, Srinivasan, T.A Razaak to name a few. A director couldn't see his script objectively thus couldn't be sure whether it will work or not. But taking other's script gives the freedom of being objective of gauging how powerful the script is. Occassionaly Kamal comesup with his own scripts also other than filming the novels.

{mosimage}The story and script is also Kamal's this time. "The hero is Dileep and shooting will start in October. It's a youth-oriented movie and portrays the happenings during a train yatra from Delhi." he says. Kamal teams up with Illayaraja for the first time in this movie, introducing Tamil heroine Pooja (Ullam ketkume, Jiddhan fame..) in Malayalam. Kamal prefers to live in rural Kodungalloor where the muse visits him, unlike several other writers who stay in secluded places or hotels to write scripts. Neither has he shifted base to a city to have a better network. He is comfortable in his village home, choosing to go to the locations and labs from where he lives.

{mosimage}Kamal has an ear for good music, thats why most of his movies are blessed with evergreen songs. For me Kamal's name in the cassette cover itself is more than enough to pick that from the shelf. I started my Kamal's collection with "Azhagiya Ravanan" & "Niram" and by the time I realised that his movies always boast of good music I started going back to his old movies like "Ee Puzhayum kadannu", "Ulladakkam" and "Mazhayetthum Mumbe.." He gave Vidyasagar a dream break with "Azhagiya Ravana" and they had a successful collaboration with "Krishagudiyil Oru Pranayalkathu", "Niram", "Gramaphone", "Madhuranombarakaatru". Of all music associations of Kamal, Johnson, Raveendran & Vidyasagar has managed to give some gems with him. Now Kamal is more associated with Mohan Sitara and testing compatibility with Jeyachandran.

Past 3-4 years has been testing for Kamal due to corruption of Malayalee's tastes by other language movies & sattellite channels. Kamal has managed to give quality movies without succumbing to the external factors. Of late every movie is like an acid test for him. His lean period started with a break even of "Madhuranombarakaatru", continued with "Gramaphone" which snoozed in can for more than 1 1/2 years despite Kamal's command over the box office. His "Manjnu Pol Oru Penkutty" which was too bold for conservative Malayalee audiences and flopped miserably. He says that society was not yet ready for such a story that highlighted social aberrations like incest. But Lalu Alex won a State award for the supporting character he portrayed in it. So did the dubbing artiste, Meera Krishnan. It was a totally different story, but our society did not feel comfortable with such a subject.

{mosimage}His "Perumazhakalam" even though was a wash-out, rained heavily at award circles both national and State. It got the national award for the best film on social issues such as prohibition, women and child welfare. This movie has a special distinction in that both its heroines got best actress awards from different bodies, the credit for which goes to the director. Both Kavya and Meera Jasmine has plum roles, Meera with more footage and Kavya, with a role that had a lot of character support. The women oriented movie did not have a conventional hero, which was a bold move in the hero-oriented cinema industry.

At a desperate attempt of success Kamal approached Mamooty who has a soft corner for Kamal, as latter revived former's sagging career with "Azhagiya Ravanan". Mamooty provided him with "Tatkal" dates and Kamal made "Rappakal" which is running to packed houses all over Kerala and Gulf. Even when his career was at stake, Kamal didn't compromise and the end product was something Kamal cherishes and feels proud. It was a comeback vehicle for yesteryear's veteran actress "Sharada", whom he admired as a kid acts in it. "To be able to work with her is something I cherish. It was made in 42 days at Ottappalam. The set was more like a happy household and the movie invokes nostalgia in all Malayalis," he says.

It deals with a huge extended family gathering in the ancestral house, when problems of modern life turn several lives topsy turvy. Ensembled with a huge star cast ably supported by Geetu Mohandas & Nayantara, it consolidated Mamooty's position as Monarch of Malayalam movies.

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{mosimage}Working with Kamal only completes every talented actress's CV in Malayalam. Kamal always gives meaty roles only to his female leads rather than routine dance and song roles. I have noticed that he works only twice with every heroine, with Meera Jasmine being an exception of 3 times in author backed roles - "Gramaphone", "Swapnakoodu" & "Perumazhakalam". He was instrumental in making Shalini, Manju Warrier & Kavya Madhavan as stars by giving them hits at right times. He lent a dignity to Samyukta Varma's career through "Meghamalhar" & Amala her only Filmfare award in "Ulladakkam".

But when coming to the character artistes department, there are many permanent fixtures in all Kamal's movies like Amirtha, Saleem, Maamu Khoya, Noolundettan and sometimes "Oduvil" Unni Krishnan. He remarks "I don't go behind stars but prefer to take talents from other industries as well as newcomers and present them in Malayalam". He gave Amala, Bhanupriya, Revathy & Suhasini wonderful roles they could cherish and fondly remember in his movies. He made "Ee Puzhayum Kadannu.." with Manju Warrier and "Gramaphone" with Meera Jasmine when they were just one movie old. He introduced Kavya Madhavan as child artiste and repeated her in "Azhagiya Ravanan & Krishnagudiyil Oru Pranayakalathu.." also as adolocent girl in "Madhuranombarakaatru" and atlast as heroine in "Perumazhakalam". He also doesn't change his cinematographer P. Sukumaran ISC and art director Suresh Kollam.

This talented film make had few setbacks in his career. He had to stall "Chakram" with Mohanlal (Vidya Balan's supposed debut movie) mid-way because of Super star's insecurity & image problems. He planned a movie with Soundarya & Prithviraj titled as "Munthiri Thoppil oru adhithi", but shelved due to the death of leading lady. He was accused of dumping Prithviraj joining hands with Dileep, when the latter replaced the former for a guest appearance in "Perumazhakalam". Kamal clarifies that he didn't throw Prithviraj but offered him another role as the producer was adamant of casting Dileep, because he happens to be the producer's close friend. But Prithviraj begged off that proposal. He shares an excellent rapport with Dileep as he served as assistant director to Kamal earlier.

Unfortunately Kamal was running short of luck when it comes to other languages. His first Hindi film "Zameer", a remake of his old hit "Mazhayethum Mumbe...", with Ajay Devgan, Mahima Chaudhary & Amisha Patel was left untouched by distributors and even the hero disowning the project. The producers added a fight sequence and projected it as action movie. Kamal's venture into Tanil with remake of his evergreen hit "Niram" as Prashanth - Shalini starrer "Piriyatha Varam Vendum" was equally nightmarish. It ran into troubles when Shalini bid goodbye after her marriage. Kamal completed the movie with a double and computer graphics pasting Shalini into frame from the same scenes of "Niram". He stood by Shalini, her husband Ajith proposed a movie with him only to ditch Kamal later. Now Kamal prefers to forget them as bad dreams by just concentrating on the kind of movies he want to make.

{mosimage}Kamal is one of the best things happened to Malayalam cinema and I am happy being entertained by standard movies from his stable. One thing I like about Kamal is his passion for movies and single mindedness. Even though his name spells money at box office, he didn't venture into production thus slowing down his pace, unlike Faazil & Siddique. On an average he makes 2 movies per year, by the time he finishes one project he is ready with next one without bothering on the previous's box-office status. But the best part is he always keeps you looking forward for next creation irrespective of the cast. Sometimes by excitement but very few times out of disappointment. I hated his "Swapnakoodu" even though it was a super-hit.

Kamal now takes on the dual responsibility of MACTA general secretary and movie director.

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About myself
Maheshwaran
Author: MaheshwaranWebsite: https://www.maheshwaran.com
I am a SAP Consultant in my late 30s, residing in the happeing IT City - Bangalore. My interests vary from reading to travelling to handicrafts to photography. My latest interest is on Body building. May be this vivid interest keeps me going in my life without getting bored.

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