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Rise of a superstar

SARASWATHY NAGARAJAN

The success of Dileep's `Pandipada' has enthroned him as a superstar in Mollywood.



THE STAR WITH THE MIDAS TOUCH: Dileep's brand of humour, which is a mix of fantasy and realism, has movie buffs making a beeline for the theatres.

July 4 has again proved to be lucky for Dileep as `Pandipada' clicks at the box office. It is a hat trick for Dileep as two of his earlier hits - `Parakkum Thalika' and `Meesa Madhavan' - were also released on the same date.

"We noticed it only after `Meesa Madhavan' also became a hit. It was not because of numerological reasons," insists Dileep who has just returned after the shooting of `Chandu Pottu.'

Made by the Rafi-Mecartin team, who were the directors of `Punjabi House' and `Thenkasipattanam,' the success of `Pandipada' has firmly put Dileep in the ranks of the superstars.

He should have been on cloud nine but Dileep prefers to be down-to-earth and maintains that he is "basically a technician" who has been lucky to make his mark in tinsel town.

In a free-wheeling interview over the telephone, Dileep discusses his success and his avatar as the superstar. Dileep steadfastly sticks to his stance that luck has a major role to play in the success or failure of a movie.


You were the producer of `Pandipada' and `CID Moosa.' Any special reasons?

Both were big-budget films and I wanted to spare the producers of having to risk so much of money. What if the film did not make it at the box office? Moreover, fortunately, I have always enjoyed the goodwill of the industry. There were stars from other States in the films and I felt that if I were the producer I would be able to make sure that they were comfortable. For instance, Ashish Vidyarthi and Sharat Saxena acted in `CID Moosa.' Tamil actor Prakash Raj has acted in `Pandipada.'

You seem to have a preference for comedies.

It is true that after `CID Moosa,' `Pandipada' is yet another film that is fun from start to finish. Well, people lead very stressful lives these days and they go to the theatres to relax and have some fun. I try to entertain the audience. It is a sad truth that movies that claim to be rooted to the soil don't seem to have too many takers nowadays. But my films are not mere fantasies. It is a blend of realism and fun. For instance, `CID Moosa' was about a young man and his desperate measures to get a job.

So, is that your success formula. Tackling serious themes in a light-hearted manner.

No, there is no formula. Each film is unique and needs a different treatment.

I have not confined myself to comedies. I had produced `Kathavasheshan.'

There were rumours that `Kathavasheshan' was made with an eye on the awards.

People can say what they want to.

But it was made by one of our most talented directors T.V. Chandran and I feel happy that I was able to work with him. It is a thought provoking film, something that we see around us.

Does that mean there are more such films in the pipeline?

I don't know. I have never acted to a plan. It is all a question of luck. For instance, although I love music and can sense a hit, I can't sing a line. Yet, I was lucky to get the role of `Junior Jesudas' in `Sallapam,' which was the film that gave me a break.

The songs in your films (`Sallapam,' `Ee Puzhayum Kadannu', `Meesa Madhavan,' `Ishtham,' `CID Moosa,' `Rasikan') are hits. Do you pay special attention to music?


I do. Vidyaji (Vidyasagar), Suresh Peter, Ouseppachayan (Ouseppachan), Mohan Sithara, the late Raveendran master... are some of the music directors I have worked with and they have consistently given their best for my films.

Have you considered working in other languages?

If it is meant to happen, it will. It all depends on fate. One can't predict and in the film industry it is even more difficult to plan.

Some of your films have depicted the culture of other States. For instance, `Punjabi House' revolved around a Punjabi household in Kerala while the heroine of `CID Moosa' (Bhavana) was a Gujarati.

Now, `Pandipada' is set in a village on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border. Was that a deliberate decision?

Yes, It was. Cinema is universal. It is beyond languages. So, why not depict the rich mosaic of customs and people in Kerala. They are part of our social fabric. Similarly `Kathavasheshan,' had portrayed Gujaratis, Bengalis and a Telugu actor.

I had this great desire to act and sing a song in Hindi. So in `CID Moosa' the song `Maine Pyar Kiya' was included. It became a hit too.

I make it a point to seek the feedback of my film crew and the audience. This feedback keeps me in touch with the tastes of the audience.

Has your background as a mimicry artiste helped you?

Of course, it has. To be a good mimicry artiste, one has to be a good observer. This stays somewhere in your subconscious. So, when you are told to enact something, you can draw on that treasure trove of mannerisms and behaviour.

For instance, in `Chandu Pottu,' I play Radhakrishnan, an effeminate young man. I have grown my hair for the role. So, there was no special make-up or other gimmicks. But I had to change my body language, mannerisms and way of speaking. Only after the first day's shooting did I realise the amount of work that had to be put in to breathe life into the character.

Lucky heroines or directors.

Since I worked as an assistant director for long, I can, to a certain extent, understand what goes behind the camera. As a result the directors that I have worked with have always been kind enough to put up with my suggestions.

As far as heroines are concerned, many of the heroines today made their debut as the leading lady in my films. It would be unfair to specify names. But I share a warm relationship with all of them.

And that brings us to the leading lady in your house - Manju Warrier.

She is a busy full-time homemaker, while my other heroine Meenakshi is studying in kindergarten. She enjoys watching movies, including mine.

I am planning to go to the theatre to watch `Pandipada' with my family.

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