Recently we saw Priyadarshan return to Malayalam Cinema after ages with Oru Marubhoomi Kadha. While the movie was more of a rehash of many of his earlier films, what went unnoticed probably was that this was Priyan’s 80th release.This is indeed a commendable achievement because there aren’t too many directors with such a big tally of completed projects and more so when it’s from someone like him who has successfully made a transition from South Indian cinema to Bollywood.
Oh! Yes we all know that a lot of his recent movies have started getting repetitive. There are valid complaints like he’s been using the same locations time & again, he’s been working with a stock set of actors, he continues to remake his own movies or those directed by others (mainly Malayalam) etc. But all said and done we just cannot ignore the fact Priyan has given us countless memorable movies in Malayalam like Chithram, Thalavattom, Kalapani etc and even some of his early Hindi movies have been quite refreshing like Gardish & Virasat. Some time ago we also saw the release of his critically acclaimed Tamil movie- Kanchivaram. Though he hasn’t done anything remarkable after Kanchivaram and though his upcoming film-Tezz isn’t also looking too impressive, Priyan continues to be a filmmaker under focus.
Hence considering all this I think this is the right time to look back in time and re-visit some of the best works of Priyan. Given below are 5 films that I feel would be top on my list and they are described below in chronological order. Considering his repertoire it has not been easy for me to choose the movies. But nevertheless here I go-
Poochakke Oru Mookuthi- This Malayalam movie released in 1984 was Priyan’s debut movie which he went on to remake later in Hindi as Hungama. The movie was a brilliant comedy of errors and had superlative performances not just from the lead cast of Shankar,Menaka and Mohanlal but also from the supporting cast like Nedumudi Venu,Sukumari, Shankaradi, Jagathy Sreekumar etc. The ‘chaotic’ style of climax which is a Priyan trademark actually originated from this movie. One of the best scenes from this movie is when Shankar an aspiring singer comes to teach music to Sukumari and Nedumudi Venu interferes. This scene does not feature in Hungama. Given below is the video – have a look & enjoy
Thalavattom- Released in 1986, this Malayalam movie was unsuccessfully remade by Priyan later in Hindi as Kyunki. With more than subtle shades of One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, what made the movie special was Mohanal playing the character of Vinod who is mentally ill. Mohanalal’s portrayal was extremely convincing and was ably supported by others like Karthika, Nedumudi Venu, Soman,Jagathy Sreekumar etc. Inspite of the slightly serious subject Priyan retained his comic touch in the movie with some memorable comedy scenes like the one in the video below-
Music by Reghu Kumar also deserves a special mention here.
Chithram- Released in 1988, this Malayalam movie is one of the biggest hits in the history of Malayalam cinema. The movie was so successful that it went on to be remade in a lot of other languages including Tamil and Hindi but none of them were directed by Priyan, The movie was written by the prolific actor-writer Sreenivasan and once again had Mohanlal in the lead. Chithram is the story of Vishnu ( Mohanlal ) a photographer who goes to jail for accidentally killing his wife and then escapes from jail to make money for his child’s surgery. That’s when he comes in contact with Kalyani ( Renjini ) and her uncle ( Nedumudi Venu) who want him to act as Kalyani’s husband to make her father ( Poornam Vishwanathan ) happy as he is ill & on vacation. What ensues is a comic series of adventures with an extremely emotional climax. Music by Kannur Rajan was also one of the main reasons for the movie’s success. Given below is the video of my favorite song from the movie – Doore kizhakkudikkum sung by M.G.Sreekumar and Sujatha.
Kilukkam- This Malayalam movie released in 1991 was also remade by him in Hindi as Muskurahat. It is certainly one of the best comedy films in Malayalam cinema – but definitely not just a routine comedy. While Mohanal as Joji the tourist guide in Ooty and Revathy as the orphan in search of her father were certainly commendable, IMO the actual star of the movie is Jagathy Sreekumar who plays the role of Mohanalal’s friend Nishchal.This movie is one of the best examples to showcase the powerhouse of talent that Jagathy Sreekumar is. Watch the scene in the video below – one of my favorites from the movie. This was one of the earlier works of Sharat Saxena in South Indian cinema.Music by S.P.Venkatesh was also in line with the mood of the film.
Kalapani- Not all movies directed by Priyan were comedies and Kalapani ( Siraichalai-Tamil, Sazaa-E-Kalapani-Hindi) is a fitting example to underline the statement. The movie told the poignant story of a doctor (Mohanlal) who is wrongly accused of being a naxalite and sent to the Cellular Jail in Port Blair (Andaman & Nicobar Islands). The movie brilliantly described the cruelty that the Indian freedom fighters suffered in the Cellular Jail during the British regime. Performances by the supporting cast of Amrish Puri,Prabhu,Tabu,Annu Kapoor etc were all praiseworthy. Music by Ilayaraja and cinematography by Santosh Sivan further enhanced the appeal of the story.A few years ago when I finally got to visit the Cellular Jail, I couldn’t but help recollecting a lot of scenes from the movie.Check out the wonderful Vande Mataram from Kalapani
Apart from these 5 movies certain other movies also deserve a special mention like Thenmavin Kombathu (Saat Rang Ke Sapne by Priyan in Hindi), Akkare Akkare Akkare-the 3rd part in the classic Dasan-Vijayan police series , Vandanam, Mukundetta Sumithra Vilikunnu. Do let me know what you all feel about these movies and about the other movies made by Priyan. Here’s hoping that Priyan – the run machine of Indian cinema continues to entertain us with his movies and makes even better movies hereafter.
Note- I have not mentioned any Tamil or Hindi movie in my list because all his movies in Hindi and Tamil have been direct remakes of other South Indian movies (mainly Malayalam) directed by Priyan himself or others.
P.S- This post was originally written after Priyan hit the landmark of 75 films with Billu ( 2009 ) but now re-edited and published after the release of his recent film, Oru Marubhoomi Kadha.