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On the trail of the `Tiger'

Prema Manmadhan

Rajmohan Unnithan makes his debut in Shaji Kailas' `Tiger,' with Suresh Gopi.

Photo: Mahesh Harilal.

SPOTLIGHT: Suresh Gopi, Shaji Kailas and Rajmohan Unnithan on the sets of `Tiger.'

Suresh Gopi has started the cop act all over again. `Tiger' is being shot in and around Kochi and Munnar. From Bharatchandran, Suresh Gopi hops on to the role of Chandrashekhar, Crime Branch SP. (`SP' was changed to `Tiger' later). Fresh from the success of `Bharatchandran IPS,' he begins his second movie of the same genre, with director, Shaji Kailas, reliving their `Commissioner' days together.

A taut thriller

"This is an edge-of-the-seat movie and is different from my earlier investigative ones," says Shaji Kailas who has a new scriptwriter now, B. Unnikrishnan. Suresh's role in `Tiger' and the one in `Bharatchandran IPS' are very different, says the director. "While he plays a firebrand cop in the former, spouting earthy dialogues, he is a refined police officer who relies on his experience and intelligence," says Shaji Kailas.

At Bolghatty Palace, cinematographer Shamdat watches as a shot just taken, is edited online by Don Max. "Have you seen such tones in Malayalam cinema?" cameraman Shamdat asks, happy with the result, as Don Max edits a Rajan P. Dev shot. "This is the first time that a movie is being edited online, in Malayalam," says Unnikrishnan.

Produced under the banner of Sri Uthruttathi Films, by Sasi Ayyanchira, the movie has story, script and dialogue by B. Unnikrishnan.

The USP of this movie is Congress activist Rajmohan Unnithan who plays the role of the Chief Minister of Kerala. "It's the role of an astute politician, who knows the compulsions of coalition politics and is a strategist," Unnikrishnan says.

First scene

How was Unnithan's first shot? "I didn't expect it to be this perfect. He said the dialogues perfectly and once he got into the hang of it, and understood the technical aspects of the big screen, which I explained to him, he was very much at home," Shaji says. The story of `Tiger' springs from a murder mystery. A journalist, Suhara Ahmed, working with a channel called Asiavision is found missing. Gopika plays this character. Suhara is the daughter of a seasoned journalist, portrayed by Janardhanan. This character is a person who started a newspaper and was forced to close it down, owing to adverse circumstances.

Owing to an agitation organised by journalists, in comes super cop Chandrashekhar to take stock of the matter. Sai Kumar and Anand play the cops who assist Suresh Gopi. Suvarna Mathew, small screen star, plays Gopika's sister. Rajan P. Dev is a minister, Varkychan. . Siddique is a Rajya Sabha MP who is also an NRI business man. Murali dons the role of vigilance director, while Subair, plays a cop too.

"The big screen allows your imagination full scope. There are plenty of mind games to keep the audience thinking, while enjoying the movie," promises Unnikrishnan. It is slated for a Christmas release.

In a new role

In spotless khadi and spouting flawless Malayalam Rajmohan Unnithan breathes life into the role of the Chief Minister of Kerala. Small screen viewers had enjoyed his verbal sparring some time ago, when the spat within the Congress fold held sway over the electronic media. But this time, Unnithan is doing it as an actor, on the big screen, for the movie, `Tiger,' directed by Shaji Kailas.

"Fed up of politics? Of course not. My main agenda is still politics," he declares even as he takes a break on the sets of the film, the shooting of which is in progress at Bolghatty Palace, Kochi. "I am yet to get my place in the Congress party, but I will not wait for eternity. The Congress party leaders must tell me whether they want me or not now. If not, I have my own plans," he says, moving away from the script of `Tiger.'

Photo: Mahesh Harilal.

RAJMOHAN UNNITHAN: Reel Chief Minister.

Will he form a new party? "No, I will fight within the party, as I have always done and expose some more things. I won't wait for long," he says. His role in the movie is perhaps his dream role in life. "It is about a Chief Minister who is clean, and the kind that people dream about," he elaborated. Unnithan was earlier signed on to do the role of a villain in a movie with Mammooty as the hero, which S.N. Swamy had scripted. It didn't take off and Unnithan is rather happy about it." My children, all three boys, were against the idea because they did not want to see me beaten up on screen soon after the real- life incidents on TV," he says.

Of his first shot, he says, "Of course, I was not nervous. Moreover, there are prompters," he adds.

He was nostalgic about his early days when the stage played a big role in his life. In P.J. Antony's `Thuramughom,' he played the role of a ship's captain on more than 70 stages, in 1977, soon after graduation. While in college too, he was a part of a play, `Watergate,' which was staged more than 100 times in Kollam and other places. It was, as its name suggests all about corruption.

He has not yet decided whether the movies will be a parallel career. But having done other roles on the stage, he is not averse to the idea, though politics will be his first love. "I'll wait for the response when this movie is released during Christmas and only then decide whether I will take up more offers," Unnithan remarks.

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