Starbursts on the Malayalam Screen | Suparna ‘Vaishali’ Anand

Suparna Anand in Vaishali (1988) Four out of five friends stared blankly when I asked for the actor who played the title role in Bharathan‘s eponymous Vaishali (1988), which is also a telling tale on a starburst which was “ooed and aahed”, and then, got neatly packed away in our cinema’s dusty, moldy archives. MT described the film as one of his “good films, though he felt, Bharathan had over-decorated it a bit, maybe because he was a painter“. Other epithets for Vaishali, the film, includes  the “prettiest film” ever made in  Malayalam and Bharathan’s painting in Celluloid, but, one has to acknowldege, there has never been a film, visually dense, exquisitely textured and sensually glowing as Vaishali (1988).

And all those pithy epithets lead back to the actress who portrayed the role, Suparana Anand, who was like this proverbial ‘ flash in the pan, bright but short-lived’. Suparna played the exceptionally beautiful daughter of the royal mistress ( illegitimately sired by the King) who is entrusted by the king to seduce the teenage son of sage Vibhandaka, from the deep forest, to take part in a yajna that would bring rain to his drought-ravaged kingdom. The reward is recognition of her royal blood  as a royal testimony in front of his loyal subjects, but the story takes a tragic turn, in another brilliant perspective on mythology from MT.

Suparana Anand portrayed this composite balance of sensuality, voluptuousness and an innate innocence to the character, and maaaann, was she beautiful! Though she felt a little wet-around-the edges when it came to emoting on screen ( the Malayalis, as a community are unforgiving in that respect), under the able direction of Bharathan, she came out brilliantly as the young Vaishali.

Here is the beautiful Indraneelimayolum from Vaishali. Each frame is like a painting, if you haven’t noticed by now.

Utharam (1989)

Suparana Anand in Utharam (1989) Utharam, directed by VK Pavithran, was scripted by MT, based on Daphne Du Maurier‘s short story No Motive, maybe amongst the only two creations he rewrote according to our sensibilities. It was an unusual thriller, which had parallel narratives and timelines that went back and forth, a remarkable and commendable effort from the entire team. Suparna played Celina Joseph, a poet with a deep, dark secret, inextricably tied with her childhood and her best friend Shyamala Menon ( Parvathi). A shattered Balu (Mammootty) is on a journey to find answers to Celina’s suicide (she is also his best friend’s wife and is very fond of her, as a sister) and slowly unravels the frightening strands of secrecy that binds her past. She had come to he own by this time, and displayed a restrained, yet powerful portrayal of the tormented poet on screen.

A clipping from the movie Utharam (1989)

Nagarngalil Chennu Raapaarkkam (1990)

Suparana Anand in Nagarangalil Chennu Raapparkam I still haven’t got the faintest idea how she ended up in this one. Maybe Vijy Thampy was riding on the goodwill and ‘marketability’ of her star value in this bizarre, crazy, mediocre drama about mixed identities, an insanely rich and naive heir to a local squire who runs away to the city with a bundle of money, a professional assassin, another bunch of assassins, the hero in the city – it was a crazy trip.
Suparna played Asha, the local business magnate MRC’s son, who has his own agenda in the kidnapping of his own ‘daughter’. Curiously, this average grosser was the film that got back Suresh Gopi back into the attention span of the average Malayalam cinema goer, from a film career that was on a tailspin.

An excerpt from the film.

Njan Gandharvan (1991)

Suparna Anand in Njan GandharvanSuparna was very, very lucky and fortunate to have been a part of Padmarajan‘s Njaan Gandharvan {I, Celestial Lover- can it get anymore poetical for a movie title}, as Bhama, the bubbly, vivacious, intensely naive and romantic college-going teenager, who falls in love with this traveller from the Heavens. Only Padmarajan, in his infinite fount of unique creativity, would have been able to come up with a story, and effectively transfer it on to the screen with a screenplay that can only be admired from a respectable distance. It also helped that the Ganharvan was played by Nitish Bharadwaj, who surprisingly took to the role like a fish out of water ( the long stint in the Mahabharatha franchise had worked its charm). The characterisation called for this beautiful, radiant naivety that binds like gossamer around the celestial lover, and Suparna had it down pat, this was familiar territory to her. I might go on and say it that, no other combination would have worked as beautifully as this unusual pairing of Nitish and Suparna, which also came to be Nitish’s first and last film in Malayalam.

Here is Palappoove from Njan Gandharvan which won K.S. Chitra the State Award in 1990 for Best Female Playback Singer.

Post Script.

Suparana Anand of Vaishali Fame.As an actress, Suparna Anand’s best works lie in Malayalam, though the rest of the country knows her as Jyoti Deshmukh from Tezaab (1988). The rest of the Hindi movies that came her way were cheap B-grade productions that are best worth not mentioning about.

She was last seen in Aastha (1997), which was borderline soft-porn, a film that was cringe worthy at best, even for an actress like Rekha.

Came across this picture on the Web in one of the Malayali Forums. Time seems to have taken its natural course on the actress, but may that be, she will always be remembered as Bharathan’s Vaishali in Malayalam Cinema.

Next :  Surekha

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27 thoughts on “Starbursts on the Malayalam Screen | Suparna ‘Vaishali’ Anand

  1. I like both vaishali and njan gandharvan..and never miss a chance to view again….
    thanks for writing about suparna.. the beauty incarnate who fitted well with both characters wonderfully……..

    • Thank you for writing in Asa. Both Vaisali and Njan Gandharavan will forever stay evergreen.Too bad she disappeared like a flash in the pan, bright but short-lived. Thanks again..cinematters

  2. aahh Vaishali… don’t get me started… saddened me to see her recent pics… the cruel hands of time….
    like u rightly said, every frame a picture. bright, colorful and so sensuous. the innocence, the naiveté… heartbreaking. and indraneelimayolum… it’s one of those movies i have so much to say about, but simply am at a loss for words…i never miss rerun on tv.

    • Hi Alakananda,
      Only Bharathan could walk the fine line between sensuality and soft-porn and make you like it, hell, even get away with it. But that man had a clear vision on every single project he understood, though the benchmarks he set for them were very dynamic :) With dear buddy Padmarajan, he was unstoppable, but on his own, his creative output amazed you by it ‘suicidal’ dips and rises.Vaishali is undoubtedly like a painting that also set fire to your brain. And if by “cruel hands of time”, you meant Suparna Anand’s current ‘constitution’, c’mon, she is only human, and she has the right to llive her life the way she pleases, aint it ? :) If she likes to pile on pounds, well, its her life. Last heard, she was settled in Delhi, overseeing a flourishing Interior Designs enterprise. Need to re-confirm on this..Thank you for writing in..regards..cinematters

  3. A small trivia:
    Suparna acted in a Tamil movie Dravidan with Sathyaraj. This was a flop. Of which Malayalam movie was Dravidan a remake of?

  4. >>maybe amongst the only two creations he rewrote according to our sensibilities
    the other one?

    Recently Vineeth told in an interview (the same one which I mentioned in Saleema post) that he was initially cast in the role of Rishyashrunga. They did a screen test and when he stood in front of camera, there was a heavy rain.

    • Dear Rajesh,
      The other would be Oru Cheru Punchiri, based on Ramana’s short story Mithunam. Also, would appreciate if you could send across that interview..Was unable to source it here.. Thanks..cinematters

      • You saw Sasneham Sumithra? Wanted to know how the Malayalam version was
        Also any other movie from the author adapted to Malayalam?

        • Dear Rajesh,
          I have watched it but I need to watch it again, now that you have mentioned it :) These are the two ones that I know of. Let me get back to you on this..regards..cinematters

          • Hi Ashwin,
            I believe its pretty obvious to anyone who has gone through the article, to read out the movie titles that she had acted in Malayalam. I donot know of any other way other than writing it out for you in English, which is what I have done in the article. Why not go through the post once again, this time slowly, looking for the Titles given in Bold ? Thanks..cinematters

      • Oru Cheru Punchiri is an all-time favourite – the most romantic Malayalam movie that I have seen, though not in the conventional sense. Did buy the screenplay of ‘Oru Cheru Punchiri’ which also features the Malayalam translation of Mithunam in it..Plan to pen a post on the movie some time later…

        • Dear Pradeep,
          I could’t agree with you more. I have done a brief mention on it in my tribute to Oduvil Unnikrishnan which you can read here..Look forward to your post :) regards..cinematters

      • Hi Ashwin,
        Did you not go through the article? I am at a loss as to HOW YOU CAN MISS OUT ALL HER MOVIES listed prominently with their videos in the article. Or is there something in your question am missing? Thanks, cinematters

  5. I loved ‘Vaishali’. “Njan Gandharvan’, not so much, though I did see it so I could drool over Nithish Bhardwaj. :) Actually, wasn’t Devaragam also by Bharathan? I thought its second half was brilliant! (The first half was a pain because Sridevi was too old by then to play the bubbly teenager, and she only sounded irritating.) Suparna was really good in Vaishali, though I wish Bharatan had not changed the story around so much. The original myth was good enough. Wasn’t the boy who played Rishyasringa the same person who played Aromalunni in Oru Vadakkan Veeragaatha? Or am I confusing two different actors altogether?

    • Hi Anu,
      Who doesn’t drool over Lord Krishna :). With Vaishali, again it was MT’s interpretation, just like OVV and I like it all the same. Sanjay was indeed the one in OVV, and as far as i know Suparna currently runs an Interior designs firm in Delhi…regards..cinematters

    • Dear Author Thank You for your reply…
      i have following list of her movies : Vaishali(malayalam),
      Utharam(malayalam),,
      Njan Gandharvan(malayalam),,
      Nagarangalil Chennu Raparkam(malayalam),,
      Aastha: In the Prison of Spring,(Hindi)
      Muqaddar Ka Badshaah(Hindi),
      Akarshan(Hindi),
      Zulm Ko Jala Doonga(Hindi),
      Tezaab(Hindi)
      Dravidan(Tamil)
      Anand nikethan(Bengali)

      and i watched all movies, suggest me if i’m missing something ?

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