Superstar Project 4–5/174.

kathanayakudu-earthquake

kuselan-kathanayakudu WPIMDbLB (Tamil)
WPIMDbLB (Telugu)

It is finally the time to continue the Superstar Project. I finished watching P. Vasu’s Kathanayakudu (2008) already a couple of months ago but didn’t write anything about it until now. I hope I haven’t forgotten too many details. Kathanayakudu is the simultaneously shot Telugu version of the Tamil movie Kuselan that I had watched a couple of years ago. The movie is a remake of a 2007 Malayalam Mammootty film Katha Parayumpol. I haven’t seen the original version so I cannot do a remake comparison. Bollywood fans might know the story also from Shahrukh Khan’s 2009 remake Billu (which I haven’t seen either).

Ayngaran’s Kuselan DVD has slightly better picture quality than AP International’s Kathanayakudu DVD but both versions are watchable. The biggest difference between the movies (besides the language) is that the main character Balakrishna is played by a different actor (as well as his sidekick comedians). I like the Telugu version’s actor more so there must be a choice between nicer actor and better picture quality. (Kathanayakudu is also 12 minutes shorter than Kuselan but this time I didn’t check if there were any scenes missing.)

kuselan-interval kathanayakudu-interval

Balakrishna (played by Pasupathy in Kuselan and Jagapati Babu in Kathanayakudu) is a poor barber who lives in a small village. One day his childhood friend Superstar Ashok Kumar (Superstar Rajinikanth) visits the village for the shooting of his new movies Chandramukhi 2 and Annamalai 2 (with Nayantara who is playing herself!). Surprisingly, Balakrishna is afraid to meet Ashok again. Does the superstar care about him anymore now that he is significantly richer than his old friend?

kuselan-100 Looks like the children have seen Rajinikanth’s Baasha.

I’m not sure why they named Rajinikanth’s character Ashok Kumar as it’s very clear that Rajinikanth is playing none other than himself. The film is full of references to his earlier work. It’s strange especially because Nayantara is playing herself without an imaginary character name.

Officially the movie was a flop and reviews that I’ve read have been mostly negative or neutral but I don’t see why. Maybe the audience didn’t expect this kind of film from Rajinikanth, as this is definitely not a typical Rajinikanth role. There’s no fighting against mafia or corrupt politicians. Instead, it’s just a simple story about friendship with a heart-touching climax. Superstar Rajinikanth, who despite the DVD covers and opening credits, is only in a supporting role (his character is not even introduced until the halfway through the first half of the film) while Balakrishna is really the main character. (However, Jagapati Babu who plays the main character in the Telugu version Kathanayakudu was nominated for Filmfare Awards South only in the best supporting actor category…)

Jagapati Babu came up with one of the finest performances of his career. This role demands a tremendous histrionics from the actor in Jagapati Babu and he does a wonderful job. His get-up is also good. But one wonders why he has light beard though he is doing the role of barber.

kuselan-vadivelu I’ve never seen anything like this.

While I agree with Idlebrain’s Kathanayakudu review about Jagapati Babu’s superb performance, I think their reviewer hasn’t heard of the famous two barbers puzzle: If there are just two barbers in the town, the barbers must shave each other’s beards and therefore the one with the messier beard is actually the better barber of the two! And in this case the other barber is played by Sunil who is famous for his comedy roles in Telugu movies… Sadly, it seems to be the other way around in the Tamil version Kuselan – Pasupathy doesn’t have a beard while Vadivelu’s mustache is the most horrible ever! (Oops. Now that I think of the puzzle again, I think it actually applies to hair cut and not beard shaving which is easier to do alone. But right now I’m too tired to come up with anything more intelligent.)

Meena plays Balakrishna’s wife in both versions (as well as in the original Malayalam version). Her role isn’t very large but she does a good performance. I haven’t yet seen many of her other films but I can’t wait to see some of them later during the Superstar Project!

It’s also always nice to see Prabhu who has a small role in the film.

Comedy could have been slightly trimmed. I liked Telugu version’s Sunil a little more than Tamil version’s Vadivelu. There are also other usual Telugu and Tamil comedians in minor roles, like M. S. Narayana, Ali, and Santhanam, but their jokes aren’t very memorable. I didn’t even recognize Brahmanandam from Kuselan but he was easier to locate after seeing the Telugu version where he does the talking instead of his Tamil friend.

The songs are awesome in this movie! My favourite one is Rajinikanth’s introduction song “Cinema cinema” which commemorates the 75th anniversary of Tamil cinema and has several cameo appearances by celebrities of the industry. “Om Zaarare” is also very catchy. The picturizations of these two also have very epic costumes! I like the other songs too.

♪ No one has seen God for real but Cinema shows them on screen. ♪

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zwVdzXJFCI&t=9s

Story 4
Star Power 4
Songs 4½
Comedy 2½
Overall 4

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Thanks to Review Raja, today I discovered a very interesting upcoming Tamil movie, Puli, which I somehow hadn’t heard about before. The main role is played by Vijay who I really don’t know as well as I should, but the supporting cast includes some very big names (at least big for me, if not officially big names), like Sridevi, Sudeep (!), Prabhu, Shruti Haasan, and Hansika Motwani. The teaser trailer released just today.

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Superstar Project 2/174.

chandramukhi WPIMDbLB

To begin with, here is Rajinikanth’s title screen for the Superstar Project’s title card gallery. In 2005 it’s already quite shiny.

chandramukhi-credits

Chandramukhi is a Tamil superstar starrer from 2005, directed by P. Vasu. It is a remake of the 2004 Kannada movie Apthamitra (also directed by P. Vasu). Besides the superstar, the cast also includes Prabhu, Jyothika, Nyantara, Vadivelu, “and others”.

Chandramukhi is a “hounted house” type of story. Sometime in history, a fatal love triangle had taken place in the mansion and as a result, one of the rooms is inhabited by a ghost of a dancer named Chandramukhi. Fortunately, we have Rajinikanth, an excellent psychiatrist, to save the day. The story is interesting and easy to sit through at least once, but it doesn’t have anything so special that I would re-watch it in the near future. (Watching the sequel two days later was already enough of the same story.)

I have nothing bad to say about the songs either, although I like the more recent Rajinikanth songs more. One funny thing was the song sequence where Rajinikanth is flying kites with his friends. The result can be seen in the following image.

chandramukhi-kites

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There are two fights in the movie. The first one is the compulsory Rajinikanth introduction fight which once again is very entertaining because of Rajinikanth’s Law of Gravity. The second one feels a bit pointless, but it’s an unwritten law of nature that whenever a character is played by Sonu Sood, he is a villain and therefore has to be defeated at some point.

Another noteworthy gravity moment is when Rajinikanth saves Prabhu’s character from drinking poisoned coffee.

Don't drink, the coffee is poisoned!


nagavalli WPIMDbLB

Chandramukhi has a 2010 Telugu sequel, Nagavalli, which is also by the director P. Vasu. It is a remake of the 2010 Kannada movie Aptharakshaka (again by the same director). In this movie, Chandramukhi returns and once again a psychiatrist’s help is needed to drive her away.

This film doesn’t feature Rajinikanth except in some flashbacks from Chandramukhi. Instead, the film stars Venkatesh as Rajinikanth’s assistant. I realized that somehow I hadn’t seen a Venkatesh film before, and he actually is quite good in this one. I also liked Anushka’s role as Chandramukhi. Rajinikanth’s authority is in danger as his assistant’s assistant is played by none other than Brahmanandam. M. S. Narayana is in a minor role and he dies almost immediately after his introduction which felt a little inappropriate when watched so shortly after the actor’s death in real life. In addition to those actors, the film also features Shraddha Das who is known for her roles in at least Arya 2 and the Malayalam horrific horror film Dracula 2012.

Though the actors’ performances are good, the movie doesn’t have much to add to the story of Chandramukhi. We get to see a little more of the history part. Also the climax scene is nice. (Now I need to add random thunderbolts to my rules of K/Tollywood drinking game.) I believe that Nagavalli can be watched without seeing Chandramukhi first, but I would still recommend Chandramukhi over this one.

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