His Highness Abdullah and Mohanlal’s ‘Dance’

[initially posted on NG]
[song starts at 1:10]

While I wouldn’t rank this among the great MAlayalam films I’ve seen it was still an interesting work. I loved the way in which themes of ‘royalty’, parricide, the overarching musical frame (beautiful soundtrack here), the bourgeois squabbling over inheritance etc were all brought together. A sly and needless to say humorous mix of the high and the low.

And of course there was Srinivasan who I’ve long believed is one of the very ’subversive’ actors I’ve come across in terms of being a ‘type’.
[performance starts at 2:10]

The great actor always offers something new in every film. And here it was remarkable to witness Mohanlal’s hand movements in the classical music contest he has with the master. And I was immediately reminded of his much greater achievement in Vanaprastham, specially in the scene where he and Suhasini are conversing just using hand gestures. Mohanlal’s acting skills can be taken for granted but with these other ‘little’ things one truly gets the full range of his talent. Much as I’ve always felt that Mohanlal is incredible on his feet. His movements are so smooth these often come across as choreographed. And even with all his weight he has never lost that ‘tiptoe-like’ grace. Mohanlal is the kind of actor one would want to take into one’s old age… when one would want calm and repose and the ‘madeleine-filled’ ironies of time to reflect over… Mohanlal would be a perfect fit!

And one might start watching Iruvar anew!

7 Responses to “His Highness Abdullah and Mohanlal’s ‘Dance’”

  1. A pair of greats, the first is a riotous bit of fun:


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  2. I think some of his best acting as a classical singer are in Bharatham- absolutely riveting stuff. Kamaladalam has some good Bharata Natyam sequences.

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  3. Oh, I love Kamaladalam, and yeah Bharatham is pretty much the pinnacle. I don’t know if you’ve seen Sindhu Bhairavi which has my absolute favorite classical album in Tamil cinema (pretty much any language) and some of Yesudas’ best work. But Sivakumar is kind of a waste in the lead role – I kept imagining what Lal could have done with Ilayaraja’s brilliance.

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  4. Kamaladalam was probably the only movie in which I appreciated (the late) Monisha as an actress- her National Award for Nakhakshathangal was inexplicable. Yeah, I’ve seen Sindhu Bhairavi and Sivakumar was pretty much a cipher- only remember Suhasini and the songs esp Paadariyaen Padippariyaen

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  5. Yeah Suhasini was luminous in that film as she was in most movies back then. I recall weeping when I first watched Kamaladalam. I was so young that I think Lal’s films actually traumatized me back then! You had all these Lohitadas screenplays with rather intense levels of melancholy…remember Sadayam? Yeesh, talk about a downer. In a good way.

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  6. chipguy Says:

    Yup, Sadayam was intense- but for me, nothing matches Thaniyavarthanam for its intense melancholy and ultimate helplessness in the face of larger forces. This was the first time I actually came out of the movie theater and looked for the name of the script writer on the posters. I picked up the VCD when I was in Kerala a couple of weeks ago- it’s still as powerful!

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  7. Thaniyavarthanam has perhaps the most moving of Mammootty performances. Love that movie. But yeah, Lohitadas is matchless as a whole in terms of creating a visceral kind of empathy for his lead characters.

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