Writing Actors: Iruvar, Mahanati & Uttama Villain

Actors are one of the largest groups of influencers among celebrities. Take any region in India; you have an actor who has massive audience love and craze irrespective of the demographics.

Let’s do a small activity before talking about the writing part of actors in movies. Think of your favorite actor and put forth five questions about him/her in your mind.

Did you ask any personal-life questions? The answer here is mostly yes! I am not judging you here, but we are interested in the lives of other people, and when it comes to our favorite actors, it’s not unusual to think about their personal lives.

Note: I went without gender-neutral terms henceforth — so, going with “her” for an actor, because why not!

Enough fluff, let’s get into the topic now — How do you write an actor and tell her story? I saw movies like Iruvar — a dichotomy in many aspects — writing & acting, conservative & socialist, behind the screen & in front of the screen, friendship & hostility; Mahanati, and Uttama Villain.

Iruvar — Anand, a child with many dreams onboards a train to his voyage of achieving them, struggles a lot for movie offers. He gets an offer, but it gets stalled. Befriends a poet, and then the journey of the pair kickstarts to both of them becoming stars in their fields.

This piece is not much about Mohanlal but about Ramani, played by Gautami, and many aspiring Ramanis who have dreams of making it big as an actor and entering the industry. Ramani’s uncle wants her to be a star, and he tries to assault her when he suspects she is in love with Anand — wait for a cinematic parallel coming your way.

Then comes Mahanati, based on the life story of Savitri garu. The movie is no less than a classic. It set a standard in making biopics. This movie touches upon the actor couple, Savitri & Gemini Ganesan, and the stardom, ego, and addiction behind the mask of the colorful film industry.

Ignoring the film as a biopic for a while, this story about a girl who dreams of making it big, achieving it at a younger age, taking risks in the business, and getting affected by personal life issues leading to an unfortunate death is no less than a great emotional drama. Hands down, Savitri garu is, and will remain one of the best actors Indian cinema has ever witnessed. Talking about her philanthropy, there is a scene in the movie which you must watch to understand the highness of her character.

Manoranjan on the screen applauded by the audience for his portrayal of Uttaman.

How can we not talk about Kamal Haasan when it’s about actors! Kamal, an artist par excellence, is one of the best actors, screenwriters, lyricists, and everything you know about cinema. His Uttama Villain, where he plays a commercial star, traces the personal life of Manoranjan after he is diagnosed with a brain tumor, with emotional revelations along with a poignant story of trying to dodge death, the inevitable.

I strongly feel that Kamal, the writer, is entirely overshadowed by Kamal, the actor. Watch the movies written by him; they give you a new and different experience. You can read my views on Uttama Villain here:

Now, let’s talk about a recent movie that touched upon art in a mainstream love story, well, not Shankar’s I but Mohana Krishna Indraganti’s Sammohanam. Remember Sameera, played incredibly by Aditi Rao Hydari, about an independent girl walking out of the home to pursue her passion. The struggle is real for the outsiders — they have vulnerabilities that people take advantage of and trap them.

Keeping aside the story of Sameera in this movie, Sarvesh, played by Naresh, reflects many people in our parents’ generation. Ask them if they ever thought of wanting themselves on screen, and they say yes if you ask them personally. And the humorous scene where Sarvesh cries in the theatre after realizing his scene is chopped off from the movie happened and happens to many aspiring actors, including Nawazuddin Siddique (he played a role in Hey Ram, which was eventually edited).

All the films convey the story of a person who aspires to be a star in the field but without a background in the industry. The filmmakers went into in-depth writing of the character, showcasing their peaks, the aftermath of their stardom, the wrong choices they make, and the repercussions leading to their fall, with much focus on their personal lives, because the stories are more about them, in which profession is just a part.

The filmmakers didn’t restrict themselves to show us the life of their professional life but peek into their personal lives too, with much depth and justification for the actions they take while the movies progress.

The stories have an appreciable trajectory of the main lead, beginning from their childhood, their choices while they are stars, and the downfall — that’s why they are considered classics.

Though Mahanati and Iruvar are based on real stories, the makers didn’t hesitate to show the main leads’ low points, dramatic enough to take the audience away and melt their hearts with their emotions.

Before closing the blog, a not-so-important observation I noted while watching Iruvar and Uttama Villain — the songs in these two movies are inside the films made in Iruvar and Uttama Villain, respectively they are not for Iruvar and Kamal’s Uttama Villain!

Until next time, with a piece on caste in films or on writing filmmakers.. :)

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