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May 5, 2017

Devasuram

As I grow older, I have a newfound respect for I.V.Sasi – a prolific Malayalam movie director. I had dismissed his movies as having too much ‘masala’ (spice), or from a western context, my take was his creations were mostly pulp fiction movies. However, Malayali audience had none of my misgivings and had made many of I.V.Sasi films super hits over the years.

I watched Devasuram recently, an I.V.Sasi movie from 1993 starring Mohanlal and Revathi. Written by Ranjith and based on a real life person (Mullasserry Rajagopal), the protagonist of the movie Mangalassery Neelakantan (played by Mohanlal) has a permanent place in the pantheon of iconic Malayalm movie characters.

This hugely successful film has a melodramatic story tied down in place by its strong willed lead characters – Mohanlal as the feudal scion Neelakantan, Revathy as the danseuse Bhanumathi and Napoleon as the villain Mundakkal Shekharan. The restraint in the script and direction in filming a story that had plenty of opportunities to go overboard is appreciated by my older wiser eyes.

Devasuram created a new re-usable role for Mohanlal, that of an authoritative feudal/local boss-man who leaps down from a jeep in signature sandals and flicks his mundu up with one feet and saves the day knocking the living daylights out of the bad dudes. He reprised this role in his later movies like Aaram Thampuran, Ravanaprabhu (sequel of Devasuram), Narasimham and Naran. From the witty, unemployed, happy go lucky young man or the flamboyant don characters he played in his twenties Devasuram graduated him in to the hard-ass protector and leader roles of his thirties, which he continues playing even now, well past the expiry date.

Interesting things I learnt after Devasuram:

Varikkassery Mana, Ottappalam: Shown as Mangalassery tharavadu in Devasuram became a favorite location for Malayalam movie’s after Devasuram was filmed there
Napolean aka Kumaresan Duraiswamy: The villain is this movie is a multi-faceted personality. He is an actor, an MLA, MP, a minister in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s cabinet, an IT company founder and CEO.

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