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Jul 26, 2011

Gandhinagar 2nd Street

Old people are notorious for perpetuating a dreamy dewy eyed view of the past – a bygone better age. A golden era when teens listened to mellow music and respected their elders, milk came in glass bottles, mail was delivered by mail man instead of Google and NASA was still capable of putting a man on the moon. Yeah, the good old days!

For Malayalam cinema, old is gold is a truthiness a Malayali cannot deny. Things were really better for Malayalam movie industry back then and don't doubt for a moment that it is my age doing the talking. For if you ask me the same question about Hindi movies I’d say Bollywood never was half as good as it is now, their eighties were trash or travails. 

If one decade has to be chosen to represent the entire Malayalam movie industry, it has to be the period from 1985 to 1995. Or maybe we can restrict it to include, just the late eighties (85 - 90). And if there is one combo you are going to order again and again from that time period – it has to be – Sreenivasan(script writer + actor), Sathyan Anthikkad(director), Mohanlal(actor) combo.  Gandhinagar 2nd Street is one of the best flavors from this team of three at their prime.

Mohanlal living a double life to make ends meet plays one of the most unforgettable roles in Malayalam cinema as Gurkha  Bheem Singh ka beta Ram Singh (..hoom hain hoom..) at a housing colony, Gandhi Nagar in Anywhere-City, Kerala circa 1980s. Like all Sreenivasan scripts of those days, Gandhi Nagar 2nd street is a brilliant social commentary of the times. Each character however small or big, is a well thought-out, developed and executed. Its simple but succinctly humorous dialogs have stayed on in Malayalis’ shared memories ever since. 

The movie is so powerful (without flexing any visible muscles) that sometimes I wish there was a housing colony called Gandhinagar Second Street, for real. I wish, if we walk down that street we will accidently run into Ram Singh or Nirmala Teacher(Seema) or Maya(Karthika.) We can chat up how they are doing after all these years, who got married to whom and who moved away to where.

If wishes were horses there’d be a sequel, but the first major obstacle would be the man who was the life breath of Gandinagar, Ram Singh aka Mohanlal, the actor. Today’s Mohanlal would be a Godzilla to Gandhinagar’s little Tokyo – uncontainable, alien and ultimately a nightmare.  The second problem will be Harihar Nagar, the other famous housing colony from the world of Malayalam movies which has spawned a few sequels. If Harihar Nagar sequels are any indication to what lies in store for Gandhi nagar(I cannot imagine it being any different), then one Gandhinagar 2nd Street is enough – let it remain a beautiful memory in our collective consciousness.


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My grandparents house was a location in this movie.This film was shot in Gandhi Nagar Colony Kozhikode