Thursday, May 1, 2008


of the fairer sexes
Kavya Madhavan has Gopika hot on her heels for the No.1 heroine’s slot in Malayalam films, writes KK Moidu

Kavya Madhavan is facing a serious threat to her position as the top heroine in Malayalam cinema after Gopika’s return to the home turf.
Competition among heroines in Malayalam films has been rare. Most of the heroines focus on more lucrative offers in other South Indian languages after a few successful films in the local industry.
Gopika too followed her predecessors and within a short span of time made her debut in Tamil, Kannada and Telugu films. This was despite the fact that her debut film in Malayalam, Pranayamanithooval, directed by Thulasidas was a cropper at the box office. The director had cast her after searching high and low for a new face. Many established stars didn’t have the required dates. It was then that a photographer showed him Gopika’s photo meanwhile, the director’s wife also saw the actress’s photo in a magazine and showed it to her husband. Soon Gopika was selected to play Meera in Pranayamanithooval. Earlier, the young actress had turned down an offer from acclaimed director Fazil, to be cast in Kai Ethum Dhoorathu, because they clashed with her exam dates.
Gopika shot to fame after the success of For The People. Her fame in Tamil films came after director/actor Cheran cast her as one of the heroines in Autograph. Her Tamil debut made her a known face and many appreciated Gopika’s performance. The movie was remade in Telugu as Na Autograph and she repeated her part in the film in the Telugu remake as well. Similarly she also repeated her For the People role in the Telugu remake. When another Tamil hit, Azhagy, was remade in Telugu as Letha Manasulu, she played the role done by Devayani in the original. Her debut in Kannada was in Kanasina Loka. In the Tamil movie, Thotti Jaya, she played the role of a homely girl, where Simbu (Silambarasan) played the lead role. She had enough scope to prove her acting skills as a college student in the movie. The movie was shot in Kanyakumari, Nagercoil and parts of Kolkata. In director KV Anand’s debut film, Kana Kandein, she played Srikanth’s wife, again a homely girl. Malayalam actor Prithviraj also acted in the movie. Her another Tamil movie, Ponniyan Selvan, cast her as Ravi Krishna’s love interest.
Gopika’s latest Telugu release, Veedhi (The Street), did not do well at the box office. Veedhi was based on a real life story. Sharavanand, the hero of the movie has very little to do in the film and as a result he lost the advantage he got from a previous hit, Amma Chepindi. Gopika got a good chance to showcase her talent in the movie, but excessive violence and unnecessary songs marred the movie’s chances at the box office.
In Tamil, the actress had pinned hopes on Aran and Emtan Magan. As per market reports, Aran, Tamil version of Keerthichakra, is not doing too well. Her upcoming Emtan Magan, where Bharath plays the hero is her only hope in Tamil. If Emtan Magan becomes a success she is likely to get more offers in Tamil. If this movie also does not live up to market expectations her survival in the neighbouring film industry will be in jeopardy.
There are also rumours floating around that she has been demanding an unreasonably high fee, which the producers are unwilling to pay for an artiste like Gopika. But the actress has quashed the rumours and claims that for her the role is the criterion for accepting a film and that she has never haggled about the fee.
Gopika was finding it difficult to compete with actresses like Nayanthara, Trisha itself, when Bhavana and Navya entered the Tamil industry to finish of even the little chance that remained for her in Tamil films. Now directors have begun ignoring her and opting for Bhavana and Navya instead. The latter actresses are considered perfect for the non-glamorous roles, which earlier went to Gopika. Probably, realising that the going ahead is not easy, Gopika is evincing keen interest in new projects in Malayalam.
Within a short span she has acted in nearly 10 movies in Malayalam, of which most have been hits. She has acted with superstars like Mohanlal in Keerthichakra; with Mammootty in Nerariyan CBI and Vesham; with Dilip in Chandupottu and Pachakuthira; and Suresh Gopi in Tiger. In her career in Malayalam films, with the exception of her debut film, Pranayamanithooval, and Fingerprint with Jayaram, the rest have been successes.
Gopika continues to get offers in Tamil films, but they are all for glamourous roles, whereas she is keen on doing roles with scope for performance. This is another reason why she has returned to Malayalam cinema.
This puts Gopika in direct conflict with Kavya, the favourite heroine of Malayalam film-goers.
As the No.1 heroine in Malayalam Kavya has won hearts with her innocent looks, large beautiful eyes, unassuming behaviour, favourable screen image and charitable work. However, her critics tend to write her off as short, fat, non-glamorous and poor dress sense. But luck has always favoured the actress. Kavya was born in Neeleswaram in Kasargod district and she has been noticed for her distinct Neeleswaram rural accent. She made her screen debut in Malayalam films in the late 80’s as a child artiste in Pookkalam Varavayi, directed by Kamal. Though Kavya appeared as a child artiste in films like Azhakiya Ravanan, Oraal Maathram, Bhoothakannaadi and Krishnagudiyil Oru Pranayakaalaththu, nobody thought the little girl would grow up to become a heroine in Malayalam films. She made her debut as a heroine in Chandranudikkunna Dikkil, a Lal Jose film. Her portrayal of Celine in Kochu Kochu Santhoshangal, directed by Sathyan Anthikad, left an impression on the audience’s mind. After that her career picked up and movies like Sahayathrikakku Snehapoorvam, Meesa Madhavan, Pulivaal Kalyanam, Dosth, Sadananthante Samayam, Thenkasipattanam, Thilakkam, Oomappenninu Uriyadappayyan, Sheelabathi, Mizhi Randilum, Runway, Kochi Rajavu, Kilukkam Kilukilukkam, Lion, Ananthabadram, Vadakkumnathan etc. followed. Of these Meesa Madhavan posted record collections in Malayalam industry and she turned out to be superstar Dilip’s lucky mascot. Together they have acted in over 10 films.
She also made her debut in Tamil films with Kasi, co-starring the very successful Vikram. She also acted in Enmanavanil, made by Oscar Films. The film was a Tamil remake of her hit Malayalam movie Oomappenninu Uriyadappaayan.
In Malayalam, she has acted with almost all the heroes. Recently her two dreams were fulfilled, the first of acting along with Mukesh, a friend. The two come together in Athisayan, directed by Vinayan. Her second wish, which was to act as a college student, will be fulfilled in Classmates, where she plays a college student. Incidentally Classmates is also directed by Lal Jose, who directed her debut film as an adult.
Earlier Kavya’s main competitors were Navya Nair and Bhavana. Because like Kavya, they too proved lucky for Dilip. The actor’s movies, Ishtam, Kunjikoonan and Pandipada with Navya and CID Moosa and Chess with Bhavana were a success. However, following both Navya’s and Bhavana’s success in Tamil films, they have very few projects in Malayalam. Yesteryear heroines of Malayalam cinema, Sheela, Jaya Bharathi and Sharada had a long reign on the silver screen. The all bid adieu to films after marriage. Similarly, Manju Warrier, Parvathy and Samyuktha Varma are the latter-day examples of this trend.
Soon heroines like Nayanthara, Meera Jasmine, Bhavana and Navya Nair began concentrating on Tamil and Telugu films, giving Kavya a fresh lease of life.
Now ith over half the year gone by both Gopika and Kavya share an equal standing in Malayalam filmdom. Kavya’s movies in 2006 have been Lion, Kilukkam Kilukilukkam and Vadakkumnathan. Her upcoming Onam release is Classmates. The under-production projects are Vasthavam with Prithviraj, Athisayan, Arunam and a fourth movie, Chakkarappottan, which is directed by Lohitha Das and has Dilip as her co-star. This makes 2006 a safe year for Kavya, with eight movies. Gopika’s movies released this year are Pachakuthira and Keerthichakra. Another two films Janmam and Don will be released during Onam. Her another upcoming movie Pothanvaava, has Mammooty in the lead role.
Even though Kavya has more movies this year, Kilukkam Kilukilukkam and Vadakkumnathan were completed last year. Gopika too has five movies this year. She also had enough luck to play the superstar’s heroine, like Mammooty, Suresh Gopi, Dilip etc., is giving Kavya a tough time for the top slot.

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