In my home state Kerala, the God’s Own Country, there’s just one question in the minds of all people young and old, male and female, urban and rural – Is Santhosh Pandit an exceptional genius or a complete dimwit with an accidental Midas touch?
I first came to know about Mr. Pandit through my colleague Vinil Vijayan who keeps sending me Youtube video links. I had dismissed Santhosh Pandit as another wannabe trying his luck, whose creative efforts would be murdered by a discerning Malayalee audience, and surely dismissed without disdain. This was some time in May 2011.
If you search for Santhosh Pandit on Youtube, you will come across hundreds of videos, with thousands of comments, where 99 percent of the users would be abusing him. In fact, if you need to get a PhD in Malayalam cuss words, you just need to browse through comments on his videos. Some of them are so creative, that it enlightened me as I found that my vocabulary of swear words was limited, despite four years at an engineering college hostel.
Santhosh Pandit has handled every department including production, direction, stunts, choreography, script, dialogues, lyrics, music, recording, costume designing and even the story of his maiden venture Krishanum Radhayum (Krishna and Radha). In a recent interview, he claims that he would soon be featured in Guinness Records, for his multifaceted feat of handling all aspects of film making except the camera.
He plays the lead and he has introduced around five heroines in his magnum opus.
The videos of the songs were heavily criticized for its extremely poor choreography and ultra low production values. Youtube viewers took offense to the fact that Santhosh is not good looking, and definitely not hero material. They alleged that the heroine looks way too young for a hero in his late twenties or early thirties. I found that to be hypocrisy, as the reigning super star Mammootty is sixty years, and the other two super stars Mohan Lal and Suresh Gopi are well over fifty years. They act with heroines who are in their early twenties.
The low production quality aside, everything except the music looks very, very tacky. It’s so tacky that movies made by Kanti Shah appear to be slick and sleek flicks.
The music is the film’s highlight, and I must confess that five out of the eight songs have foot-tapping music, even though the lyrics are sub-standard. Listen to this song, and be amazed by the video. Check the expressions, the choreography, and production values. You don’t need to know Malayalam to appreciate the tackiness.
Santhosh and his team have managed to create a huge awareness albeit through negative publicity by publishing some of the videos, and a 14 minute trailer on Youtube. More than two dozen videos have more than 50,000 views, and several over 200,000 views. Apparently Pandit is getting paid Rs. 4 per click. He has given numerous interviews to both print and electronic media for extra publicity.
On October 21, 2011, the movie released across several theatres in Kerala, and to everyone’s surprise all theatres reported cent percent collections.
The movie to no one’s surprise turned out to be worse than what was projected by the trailers and the songs released on Youtube.
A friend of mine from Kochi said that he was so curious about the movie that he secretly went and watched it on the second day. “I was amazed by the crowd, mostly consisting of youngsters. They were screaming and verbally abusing the hero and the cast. The movie at best was unintentionally funny. People were laughing their hearts out whenever the hero mouthed dialogues, danced, or cried.”
Manorama News said that during the first day, the Police had to be called into control the crowds. Many of the viewers told the news channel that they would return to laugh, abuse, and dance for a later show within the week. Repeat audience indicates the chances of the movie having cult following.
With teenagers doing the Ganguly act in the theatres, there’s little doubt that the movie would easily breakeven and return profits. Some say that Pandit could pocket one crore rupees through gate collections, and television rights.
Pandit has managed to do the impossible. He has managed to bring back the Malayalee cine-goers to the theatres. And he is laughing his way to the bank.
Meanwhile he is busy working on his next movie, Jeethu Bhai Enna Chocolate Bhai (Jeethu the Chocolate Hero) and has announced a third film, Kalidasan Kavithayezhuthukannu (Kalidasan is writing a poem). Both movies will have him man all the departments except the camera, and play the protagonist role.
If movies of Shah were prime examples of the phenomenon It’s so bad; it’s good, Pandit takes the cake.
I guess, deservedly too!