Got to watch two of the 2020 releases recently; one was Anjaam Paathira, a crime thriller, and the other Varane Aavasyamundu, a family romcom. Casting has a major impact on both these movies and one thing in common was the cameo appearances. Nikhila Vimal does a cameo without a single dialogue while Sharafudeen simply astonishes
Got to watch two of the 2020 releases recently; one was Anjaam Paathira, a crime thriller, and the other Varane Aavasyamundu, a family romcom. Casting has a major impact on both these movies and one thing in common was the cameo appearances. Nikhila Vimal does a cameo without a single dialogue while Sharafudeen simply astonishes us in an extended cameo appearance, leaving behind a lasting impression in our mind. In Varane Avashyamundu, Urvashi also makes a superb three-scene appearance, making our eyes well up with tears!
Inquisitive, I took a trip down memory lane to check some of the powerful cameos that Mollywood had witnessed. For the first-time watchers, the cameos bring in the much-needed surprise element, but beyond that the cameo appearance of some actors can take the plot to an altogether different plane. I could find an impressive list of such short guest appearances that we all cherish even today.
The usual pattern of a cameo role involves the appearance of the ‘outsider star’ who helps out the struggling protagonist. We saw it in the climax of Gandhinagar II Street where Mammotty comes in to help Goorkha Ram Singh (played by Mohanlal) and promises him a job to save him from a crisis. Mohanlal did the same to Jayaram in Peruvannapurathe Visheshangal. The entry of the maid’s son saves the hero from trouble and does the needful for the couple to unite. We saw a more serious version of this in Summer in Bethlehem, where Mohanlal again gives a serious twist to the movie with his brilliant performance lasting only a few minutes.
Yet another type of cameo role is the one which imparts glitz and glamour quotient to the movie by adding just one scene involving a super star. Mammotty’s appearance as an advocate in Narasimham and Suresh Gopi’s entry in The King all belong to this category.
We saw a funny tweak to this category in Manu Uncle in 1988 in which Mammotty played the lead while Mohanlal and Suresh Gopi did cameo roles. Lal played himself (Mohanlal) while Suresh Gopi appeared as ‘Minnal Prathaapan’, a coward cop, very unlike his image!
Renji Panciker’s entry in Premam and Biju Menon’s role in Kunjiramayanam are two cameos that made us feel that no one else could have done those so well.
We also have had our share of lady cameos – Nayantara in Life of Josutty and Laila in Swapnakkoodu – and their roles serve as a saving grace of sort for the otherwise heart-broken heroes.
With his voice forming the backdrop of a major part of the movie, Mohanlal’s ‘telephone uncle’ in Onnu Muthal Poojyam Vare was yet another cameo that stood out.
Kalpana’s entry and exit (quite ironic) in Charlie is a cameo appearance that leaves us with a lot of sadness. As the abused and misunderstood Queen Mary, she tells her whole life story in a few minutes. A comparison that stays a notch above is Suraaj’s entry in Action Hero Biju. A few minutes, and this star conveys to us that he is much more than a national award-winning artist.
I think Suresh Gopi tops the list when it comes to having played some meaningful cameos. Notebook (2007) was a movie where the actor showed his prowess by doing a role that suits his age. As the father of one of the key accused in a death case, he steals the show with just one scene in the principal’s room. But he came up with one of his best performances in Padmarajan’s Innale, in an extended cameo. The scene where Narendran drives away in his car after meeting his missing wife Gouri (played by Shobhana) who couldn’t remember him anymore is a haunting one. I think that is the best the star has given us so far.
With all that, if anyone asks me to pick one cameo role that impressed me the most, I think it won’t be much difficult. Remember Khalmayee thaatha in Ponmuttayidunna Tharavu whose husband Hajiyar hides her from everyone? The fabulous climax scene of the movie not only leaves us with a wonderful message of love but also astonishes us with the gorgeous sight of Parvathy decked up in Malabar-style costumes and jewellery. That to me is the most amusing, surprising and impressive cameo role in a Malayalam movie.