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`Classmates,' a trendsetter

SREEDHAR PILLAI

Lal Jose's `Classmates' is becoming a cult classic in Malayalam and is likely to set a record at the box office.



USHERING IN A NEW TREND: The six young stars of Lal Jose's `Classmates.' (Clockwise from top): Indrajith, Prithviraj,Narain, Jayasurya, Radhika, Kavya Madhavan and Vijesh.

`Classmates,' directed by Lal Jose, is not only the Onam winner at the Kerala box office but it is also turning out to be a cult classic in Malayalam. The young guns - Prithviraj, Jayasurya, Indrajith, Narain, Kavya Madhavan and new girl Radhika have become a rage not only among the youth but also among family audiences in Kerala. The songs written by Vayalar Sarthchandra Varma and tuned by Alex Paul have become chartbusters and `Classmates' has become the largest selling audio in recent times.

At the box office, `Classmates' is rocking. From 47 screens in 21 days, the film is rumoured to have got a distributors' share of Rs. 2.10 crore, a record in Kerala. The film is poised to complete 100 days in almost all releases stations as per indications. What has surprised the trade is that in spite of heavy rain and the beginning of `Noyambu'(Ramzan fast), particularly in Malabar, the film is rock steady at the box office.

Evokes nostalgia

The success of `Classmates' is that its story appeals to all sections of the audience and vividly evokes fond bitter-sweet memories of college days.

Says Lal of `Lal Creations' who are distributing the film: "There is something unique about `Classmates.' It has struck a chord with the viewers, mainly the youth as it relates to their college life and the story evokes nostalgia in the elders. James Albert's script and above all the presentation and packaging of the film by Lal Jose have made it a huge hit."

Lal Jose is a gutsy director in Malayalam commercial cinema who is willing to take a risk as long as he is able to give something new to the audience. Right from his first film `Maravatur Kanavu,' he has proved that the script is of prime importance.

Srenivasan was his first scriptwriter but after that he introduced some bright young writers like Ranjan Pramod (`Meesa Madhavan') and now James Albert (`Classmates').

Says Lal Jose: "I chose this script as it was daring and had some freshness about it. A dual love story and a murder mystery told against a campus background were sure to click with the audience."

Lal Jose has proved once again that it is not stars but the novelty in the story that matters most in the making of a blockbuster. James Albert says that he had approached Lal Jose with a complete script of `Classmates,' written according to the sequence of the scenes. Initially Jose was reluctant to listen to the story but once Albert started the narration, he was truly hooked.

Lal Jose who studied in NSS College in Ottapalam and James Albert who passed out of Fathima College, Kollam, found that characters like Sukumaran, Pious, Sathisan Kanjikuzhi and Tara Kurup were there on all campuses.

Real-life characters

Adds James, "Some of the characters you see in the film are based on real-life people and that's why the film appeals to everyone. Student politics, campus romance and canteen jokes added to the right flavour."

Indrajith who played Pious the campus Casanova points out, "The innovative script and presentation worked and my character was something which I had not done so far."

Kavya says, "The suspense element in the script and the natural way that we all performed made the film a super hit."

Another factor that contributed to the success of `Classmates' is the melodious songs. `Ente Khalbile... ' and `Kaattadi... ' are the pick of the album.

Superb music

Says well-known music critic T.P. Sasthamangalam: "The songs in `Classmates' recalls memories of the golden age of Malayalam music."

Like `Aniyathi Pravu' and `Niram,' Lal Jose's `Classmates' is proving to be a trendsetter. It is Prithviraj's first genuine super hit in Malayalam while Indrajith and Jayasurya get a new lease of life. Kavya Madhavan once again reiterates that she is the `numero uno' heroine in Malayalam and Radhika is a promising find.

The message is loud and clear: the audience will always encourage and welcome a film with interesting content presented in an entertaining format.

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