Gone too soon’: Film fraternity and fans mourn pratap pothan

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Veteran actor and filmmaker Pratap Pothen passed away on Friday, July 15. As per reports, the 69-year-old was found dead in his apartment at Chennai’s Kilpauk. Condolences poured in from all quarters as members from the film fraternity and fans mourned his death. Pratap, who began his acting career in Malayalam cinema with the popular director Bharathan, has acted in over a hundred movies across Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu and Hindi film industries.

Sharing a photo of Pratap, Malacrazypayaryalam actor and filmmaker Prithviraj Sukumaran wrote, “Rest in peace uncle! I will miss you. #PrathapPothen.” Prithviraj has teamed up with Pratap for several films including the Lal Jose directorial Ayalum Njanum Thammil, Kanal (2015), the 2017 horror flick Ezra, and Mohanlal’s upcoming film Barroz, among others.

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Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan paid his condolences to Pratap Pothen, calling him a spontaneous and unique actor who adapted to the changing ways of cinema. The CM said he had marked his stamp as an artiste, filmmaker and producer in south Indian cinema. Pratap was also remembered for expressing his ‘rightful’ opinions on political and social topics, the CM said.

Actor Mohanlal who teamed up with Pratap for his directorial debut Barroz and movies like Thanmathra (2005), wrote, “Beloved Prathap Pothan, a blessed artist who proved his talent in all fields related to cinema including acting, screenplay, direction and production, has left us. Had a friendship and intimacy spanning years with him. Condolences.

Paying tribute to the actor, a tweet from 2D Entertainment, Kollywood actors Suriya and Jyotika’s home banner, read, “Rest in peace Prathap sir – you will be remembered for your futuristic films & strong roles; we will miss your childlike enthusiasm and active presence during our shoots. Gone too soon.#RIPPrathapPothen

Kollywood actor and politician Khushbu Sundar expressed that she is disheartened to know about Pratap’s untimely demise. Noting that he was a wonderful friend, actor and technician, Khusbhu tweeted, “So disheartened. Heartbreaking. Lost a very good friend,a wonderful human being, a great technician n actor n funniest guy ever, #PratapPothen this morning. Had the privilege to work with him in a few films. Hope you are finally in peace PP. You will be missed terribly.#RIP.” The 1990 Tamil film My Dear Marthandan, which starred Khusbhu and Prabhu in the lead, was directed by Pratap Pothen.

Paying tribute to Pratap, Kamal noted that the former was an avid reader who liked arthouse films and was an able director. The duo had teamed up for the 1989 movie Vettri Vizha which starred actors Kamal Haasan, Prabhu, Sasikala and Khushbu in the lead.

Kunchacko Boban, who was friends with Pratap, wrote a heartfelt note expressing that the latter will be missed. “PP…..you will be missed big time dude!! Your voice still lingers in my ears man. And there was never a second we stopped laughing whenever we talked. Have fun in the Heavens Man. I got your ever-smiling face in my heart forever!!! No tears..Only Cheers!!”

Actor Shantanu Bhagyaraj condoled Pratap’s death and wrote, “#RIP #PrathapPothen sir. Shocking.” Popular Mollywood actors Nivin Pauly, Suresh Gopi, Manju Warrier and Tovino Thomas; filmmaker Bharathiraja; Tamil actor Aadhav Kannadasan and others also shared a photo of the late actor and filmmaker on their social media profiles and expressed their condolences. Nivin and Pratap were seen in films like Bangalore Days (2014), Hey Jude (2018) and Arikil Oraal (2013).

Actor Parvathy Nair, who is known for her performances in films like Dolls in Malayalam, Story Kathe in Kannada and Tamil film Yennai Arindhaal among others, tweeted, “Prathap Pothen sir.. Why? Thank you for being my friend, well-wisher who always wanted me to succeed. Will miss you forever. Rest in peace. #PrathapPothen

Popular stand-up comics Sumukhi Suresh and Neeti Palta have been roped in as judges for the third season of Amazon Prime Video’s reality comedy show Comicstaan. They will form the judges’ panel along with Zakir Khan and Kenny Sebastian. Sumukhi, well-known for directing and playing the titular role in the web series Pushpavalli, is writing two shows and a film simultaneously. She is also working on her recently launched writers’ collective called Motormouth, which aims to develop women-centric content. Neeti Palta, a former copywriter, is known for her stand-up sets about different Indian cultures and her observational humour.

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Both Sumukhi and Neeti have been part of the previous seasons of Comicstaan. Except this time, they will be on the judges’ panel, while the participants will be guided by stand-up comedians Rahul Subramanian, Sapan Verma, Rohan Joshi, Prashasti Singh, Kanan Gill, Aadar Malik and Anu Menon, who are on board as mentors. Eight to 10 contestants are selected through auditions that take place in the form of open mics in different cities across the country. During the course of the show, the contestants perform different genres of comedy such as anecdotal, topical, observational, improv, sketch and alternative comedy among others, before they can be selected for the finale. The first season of Comicstaan premiered in 2018, and the second season in 2019.

Ahead of the premiere of Comicstaan 3 on July 15, Sumukhi and Neeti discuss their style of comedy, the gender disparity in the comedy scene, and more in an interview with TNM.

What can you tell us about Comicstaan 3? With Kusha Kapila (a social media content creator) on board, has social media content become part of the format?

Sumukhi: Kusha being a host has nothing to do with the format. She is just a natural performer so her hosting side is going to come to the forefront. And the fact that she can really hold the audience’s attention well. How quickly she learnt, is what Kusha has brought to the table. As for the format, there have been changes. It seems like season 1 really.

Neeti: It’s been a long time coming. Participants are so fresh. You genuinely don’t know who’s going to win. We have introduced the roast round, which is fun. It made both participants and judges uncomfortable. They had a chance to get back at us and we could still tell them that we’re going to be marking them in this round.

Do you think audiences are more welcoming of roast comedy now than they were a few years ago

S: Indian audiences love roast comedy. Rohan is a fabulous mentor. Contestants were very professional and not really afraid of roasting. They were so confident that it hurt!

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Both of you have been performing stand-up for a while now, do you still get asked why you do it? And has your perception of the artform changed with time?

N: As an art form, it has evolved, and I’d like to believe that I have evolved with it too. I started out as an observational comic but suddenly I realise I’m an anecdotal comic and also a social and political comic. I’m enjoying the journey too. I’m hoping there are less naysayers now and even if there are, I wouldn’t care.

S: The question “why do stand-up comedy?” is not very pertinent, thanks to platforms like YouTube, and Comicstaan, which has introduced different genres of comedy. For people like me who love to do stand-up, sketch and improv, it’s nice because people now recognise there are different genres and compliment me for doing both stand-up and sketch comedy. We’ve moved from “why stand-up comedy?” to “Stand-up comedy! Why?” but that’s a different question altogether (laughs).

N: Also, you know there’s progress when uncles on flights stop asking “oh, you make money doing stand-up comedy for a living?” or you stop getting questions like “what else do you do?”

What type of comedy attracts you the most? In your solos, do you try to strike a balance between different genres or go with what works for you?

N: I’m currently working on my new solo and it’s a bit of anecdotal and observational humour. I don’t include social commentary intentionally. But because it is how I feel, it automatically becomes part of my performance. Comedy is all about being honest on stage so a lot of it is how we are feeling, what we are feeling, or what we observed.

S: I’m truly partial to fabulous physical comedy. Like, you know the way Julia Louis Dreyfus is in Veep where her body itself acts as a joke. She makes sure that she gets a joke out of it. Or like Mindy Kaling in The Mindy Project where even her face conveys a joke. I really envy, admire and try to incorporate that.

In terms of content, my new special is very heavy. It’s titled ‘Bhanj’. I was very surprised with myself because usually I’m the high-pitched, loud girl, but in that I’m going very sad and I’m very good at crying (laughs).

This stereotype that women comics are unfunny and that they only discuss topics that are conventionally feminine has existed for a long time. Has that changed with time?

N: Very honestly, No! (laughs).

S: Actually, let’s take this out of the stand-up scene and look at the bigger picture. The idea that women are funny, or unfunny, or shy, are gender norms that exist in society and it is going to take time to do away with it. Till then, if some people are going to call us unfunny, we will handle it (smiles).

N: See, people are also not willing to put in the work. They sometimes put out generalised opinions on the internet saying women are unfunny but when you reply asking which show they watched, or which comic, they would reply saying they haven’t watched any.

S: I’ve also noticed that they are fine with moms being funny. Whenever I do a mummy role, they find it funny, but when I do a young girl impression, they call it unfunny.

N: The fact that Sumukhi, Sumaira, Aditi, Anu and I have a special, and that there are so many solos coming out will maybe stop them from looking at us as only line-ups, no?

What is your process like?

N: I’ve been doing stream of consciousness writing, thinking I’m acing it. But the next day when I look at the content, I feel it’s all bad. It’s only when I take it to the stage and when I see the jokes work that I know that some of the content is working and is salvageable.

S: I write fiction everyday. But stand-up, I don’t. I just go on stage. And it’s finally working for me. Earlier, I used to tell people that I write, and then go to open mics, and then write again. I don’t write, but I go to the stage and speak. And I’m owning it now.

Some comics have spoken about gender disparity within the comedy scene. What are your thoughts?

S: I’m truly looking to find my own tribe and that comes from my personal experiences. With Motormouth, I’m really looking forward to making sure there are lots of girls who write. It’s also because I work better with them. Then, dependency on anyone else is low.

N: From my personal experience, when I started doing comedy, I honestly did not notice any girl vs boy happening in the green room. Maybe they got quiet when I got there, I don’t know.

Intolerance is widely discussed in the context of stand-up comedy. Some believe that certain topics like religion should be off the table. How do you view this?

S: It really depends on the platform. If it is a place like Comicstaan where there are others involved, then there are certain cautionary measures and there’s a certain responsibility we have to take. Yes, it hampers your process but it also becomes challenging, right? It makes it more interesting. You can choose what to talk about on your social media or on YouTube. You can receive flak or compliments for that.

N: It is very much platform-driven. Where you are saying and what you are saying, matters. I truly believe in freedom of speech. Jokes are jokes. There is nothing in it for us when we offend people. Our job is to make people laugh and we are not deliberately offending people.

Sivakarthikeyan teams up with Mandela director Madonne Ashwin for new film

The title announcement video of the film was unveiled by Telugu actor Mahesh Babu on Friday, July 15.

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Popular Kollywood actor Sivakarthikeyan revealed details about his next project on Friday, July 15. The title announcement teaser of his upcoming film Maaveeran was unveiled by Telugu actor Mahesh Babu. The film has been titled Mahaveerudu in Telugu. Sharing the video, Mahesh Babu wrote on Friday, “Happy to unveil the title of @Siva_Kartikeyan’s #Maaveeran! Best wishes to the entire team!” In response, Sivakarthikeyan said, “This is a great start for the film and to the team.. Thank you so much for your kind gesture @urstrulyMahesh sir.. Indeed a very special moment for me sir.”

The announcement video features the protagonist (Sivakarthikeyan) being beaten by goons. As the video progresses, we see the shadow of a hand emerging from the background and controlling the hero like a puppeteer. The hero who fights the goons with the help of the hand controlling him from above, lets go of the shadow soon and prepares to fight on his own. Maaveeran is expected to have a similar plot.

The movie is written and directed by Mandela fame filmmaker Madonne Ashwin. Bankrolled by Arun Viswa under the banner of Shanthi Talkies, the technical team comprises Vidhu Ayyanna as the director of photography, Philomin Raj as the editor, Kumar Gangappan as the art director, and Phoenix Prabhu as the stunt director. The soundtracks and background score for the project will be set to tune by composer Bharath Sankar

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