24 Feb 2010, ET Bureau
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Malayalam movie industry, which has served more controversy than profits in recent times, has plunged to a new low with a squabble in which the choice of words are more appalling than some that are spoken on screen.
At the heart of the latest controversy is an allegation by veteran actor Thilakan that some big names in the industry are conspiring to deny him opportunities. But the issue has changed course - in true filmy style - and turned into a personal squabble between leading star Mohanlal and octogenarian writer and social critic Sukumar Azhikode.
Azhikode has been hinting that it is high time that the leading stars of Malayalam stepped aside in deference to their age and girth, and the comment has brought the writer into an open confrontation with Mohanlal, with the Thilakan issue acting as the trigger-point.
Admittedly, Malayalam movie actors are on the bulkier side in comparison to their peers in other language movies, and six packs are as rare as chicken’s teeth in Mollywood, even among the younger crop of actors. That, however, hasn’t dulled their appeal among their fans at home and the non-resident Malayali diaspora across the world.
Picking on Azhikode’s claim that he had got Mohanlal to sit across the table with Thilakan and sort matters out, Mohanlal said he had said no such thing, and that Azhikode must be having some “hallucination”. Not content with that, the thespian said he considered Azhikode’s statements as some “aged uncle’s joke”, and that whether he should stop acting was not a matter for Azhikode to decide.
Piqued by Mohanlal’s tart comments, Azhikode reminded the actor that he was himself ageing, that if some of his nubile heroines saw him without makeup, “they will faint”, and that he should take a leaf out of the books of Tamil stars like Rajnikant and Kamal Hassan and go around without makeup.
That observation was met with matching acidity by one of Azhikode’s own ilk, writer T Padmanabhan, who said Azhikode appeared to be envious of handsome people, and that he had no business to suggest that the veteran actors should call it a day.
Perhaps the only point that could go in favour of Azhikode is the fact that movies featuring the two lead actors in Mollywood, Mohanlal and Mammootty, have not been the ones that have earned profits for their producers. Industry sources say that the five films that are known to have made money in the recent past, To Harihar Nagar, Makante Achan, Neelathamara, Bhagyadevatha and Passenger, did not feature either of the mega stars. Neither does Mollywood appear likely to benefit from the latest spat that involves a superstar and a super scribe.