Siddique goes beyond the confines of Malayalam cinema. You are already familiar with Siddique if you are familiar with the name Hera Pheri. Therefore, his departure would definitely be felt deeply by the whole Indian film industry.
Siddique: What level of humor is too much? Malayali viewers might have thought that there is a limit to how much humor can be infused into a scene or moment if the director combo Siddique and Lal had not started on their artistic path. They would have believed that overusing humor would ruin a scene’s appeal and natural flow, which would have a negative effect on the movie’s coherence as a whole.
However, Siddique and Lal showed that humor would organically emerge without seeming forced if the writers had a thorough comprehension of the people and the settings they created as well as a profound insight into the prospective changes in these characters’ lives.
Additionally, they demonstrated that this strategy only worked when the characters shared traits, experiences, and emotions with regular people who we encounter in our daily encounters. The Siddique-Lal team produced just six films over a seven-year period, but they set a new bar for contemporary humor that hasn’t been surpassed in 27 years.
Sadly, Siddique Ismail, one of the two maestros, passed away on Tuesday in Ernakulam, leaving behind a lasting legacy.
Siddique’s legacy extends beyond the boundaries of Malayalam cinema. Some titles you may recognize are Parda Hai Parda, MGR Nagaril, Dhol, Hera Pheri, Arangetra Velai, Nagaradalli Nayakaru, Peddarikam, Hulchul, Bhagam Bhag, Brahmanandam Drama Company, Pandavaru, Meesai Madhavan, Sadhu Miranda, Maaro, Hitler, Krodh, Military, or Varsha. As a result, this is undeniably a big loss for Indian film as a whole.
Siddique shone brilliantly as a member of Cochin Kalabhavan’s mimicry ensemble, an organization known in Kerala for cultivating performing arts talents that have substantially enriched the state’s artistic scene. Together with other artists of his time, Siddique was instrumental in making mimicry a respected art form in Kerala, providing the foundation for a wealth of other talents to emerge in the years that followed.
Legendary director Fazil came across Siddique and Lal during one of their performances, which led to their working together as his assistant directors on some of his movies, including Nokkethadhoorathu Kannum Nattu (1984) and Ennennum Kannettante (1986). The two didn’t have to wait long for their names to be prominently displayed on screen because Sathyan Anthikad’s fantasy film Pappan Priyappetta Pappan gave them the chance to compose the story, the script, and the dialogue.
Despite the film’s poor box office performance, it did provide them enough notoriety to establish their presence in the field. With the help of this acknowledgment, the team was able to tell another tale to the director Sathyan Anthikad and his regular writing and acting partner Sreenivasan. A huge issue, however, was apparently started at this meeting because Sreenivasan and Sathyan Anthikad purportedly just took a small portion of Siddique and Lal’s story and rewrote it without their consent. This storyline ultimately resulted in the beloved Malayalam movie Nadodikkattu. While Siddique and Lal were given credit for the story’s inspiration, they were unhappy that Nadodikkattu’s producers used their idea as the basis for an entirely new movie without their permission.
In a JB Junction episode, Lal said that Fazil had counseled them to drop the case without filing a lawsuit, citing their status as newcomers and the possible harm such disputes could do to their careers. However, Lal said that this experience had given them the assurance that their stories were worthwhile and had an impact on viewers.
Siddique-Lal’s outstanding comedy Ramji Rao Speaking, which they directed for the first time two years after the release of Nadodikkattu and is today recognized as one of the best comic works in the cinema industry, had a profound effect on Malayali fans. Two unemployed adolescents and the owner of a struggling theatrical group are the main characters in the story. The film deftly explores the depths of the difficulties Kerala’s youth experience in finding job, depicting the scope of their hardship and the subsequent recourse to petty infractions for sustenance. The fact that all of these complex components were skillfully weaved into the fabric of humor, however, is what gave the situation its significance.
Despite Malayalam cinema’s strong comedic legacy, Ramji Rao Speaking took an altogether new style that relied on situational comedy. It deviated from prior standards by ingeniously incorporating humour into the characters’ everyday lives, all without resorting to exaggerated components or contrived incidents.
Intriguingly, an excellent illustration of this can be seen in the scene where Balakrishnan (Sai Kumar) first meets Mathai (Guiltless), the owner of the show company. Mathai, who is obviously struggling financially, receives a call from an enigmatic person who is curious about someone by the name of Urumees Thampan. Even after Mathai informs the visitor that the number is incorrect, the visitor persistently attempts to call again right away, prompting Mathai to amusingly respond, “Urumees Thampan passed away a few seconds ago.”When asked, “When?” he responds, “It’s just been 10 minutes, would it be a good idea for us to illuminate him something?” just before hanging up. Balakrishnan arrives to meet Mathai immediately following this transaction. When Balakrishnan asks whether or not he is Mathai, the final choice wisely responds, “No, I’m Urumees Thampan. Any inquiries? In any case, Mathai’s attitude rapidly changes when he learns Balakrishnan has come to set up a concert. This scene demonstrates how Siddique and Lal adeptly work comedy into everyday situations while flawlessly avoiding any limited comedic elements.
Ramji Rao Speaking was not only a box office success, but it also earned a particular place in the hearts of moviegoers, inspiring the construction of two sequels (2014). It also spawned a slew of remakes in different languages, including Hindi (Hera Pheri), Telugu (Dhanalakshmi, I Love You), Kannada (Trin Trin), Odia (Wrong Number! ), and Punjabi (Gol Gappe).
Siddique and Lal’s creative adventure did not end there; they made a comeback with three consecutive blockbusters: In Harihar Nagar (1990), Godfather (1991), and Vietnam Colony (1992). These films are equally impressive examples of their ability to handle both comedy and tales based on true events. The fact that all of these films centred on engaging stories that resonated with the audience is significant, and their moments were never overstated or unnecessarily dramatic. This characteristic increased to their appeal, as did the seamless incorporation of comedy into these narratives.
In the worlds of bromance and thrillers, In Harihar Nagar is the pinnacle. In contrast, Godfather, with its unrivaled run of 417 days in theaters, continues to serve as a standard for family-oriented comic dramas. It deftly delves into the complex ties between a father and his sons, while also putting light on the possible consequences of rigid upbringing. Meanwhile, Vietnam Colony clearly depicts the lives of economically marginalized individuals who live in small colonies.
Its plot revolves around a young man who is raised by a Kabooli after being abducted from his biological parents. Furthermore, the film shines light on society’s harsh treatment of ragpickers and those in poverty. While laughter is still present, Kabooliwala gradually elicits intense emotions, culminating in a heartbreaking climax that leaves a knot in the viewer’s throat.
Siddique and Lal cooperated on the story and screenplay for Paulson’s Makkal Mahatmyam between Vietnam Colony and Kabooliwala. They also served as assistant directors on their instructor Fazil’s epic work Manichithrathazhu. Following that, they wrote Mannar Mathai Speaking, directed by Mani C Kappan, as a sequel to Ramji Rao Speaking. Their final collaboration, the Mammootty-starrer Hitler, was also a box office success, solidifying their respective careers. They finally separated ways to pursue separate career paths.
Siddique set out on his singular process by creating the story for Kamal’s film Ayaal Katha Ezhuthukayanu (1998), which highlighted Mohanlal ahead of the pack job. Following this, he denoted his presentation as an independent chief with the film Companions, featuring Jayaram, Mukesh, and Sreenivasan as the heroes. Based on the entertaining yet genuinely thunderous connections among three companions, the film enamored the hearts of Malayalis as well as others, attributable to its uncommonly engaging and contacting account. With Companions, Siddique proficiently exhibited his capacity to succeed exclusively and arrive at new levels. The film reverberated so emphatically that it prompted a chance for him to change it in Tamil, highlighting Vijay, Suriya, and Ramesh Khanna leading the pack jobs, which likewise ended up being a resonating achievement.
In 2003, Siddique got back with another film industry hit, Constant Unhitched male, featuring Mammootty as the hero. The film portrays the narrative of a well off man who covertly upholds his step-sister’s schooling without her insight. Its delivery concurred with a period when Mammootty was enthusiastically looking for a hit subsequent to confronting a progression of continuous disappointments. Loaded with staggeringly entertaining scenes that keep on entertaining crowds, Persistent Unhitched male holds an exceptional spot in the hearts of numerous and is habitually returned to by moviegoers. Siddique additionally revamped the film in Tamil, Engal Anna, with Vijayakanth in the number one spot job.
Siddique directed another Tamil film, Sadhu Miranda (2008), partly based on his Mannar Mathai Speaking, before commencing on his third Malayalam directorial effort. In 2005, he also created a Telugu version titled Maaro, which was released much later in 2011.
Following a hole of seven years, Siddique made a victorious return with another resonating hit, Guardian. The film highlighted Dileep and Nayanthara leading the pack jobs and denoted Nayanthara’s reemergence into Malayalam film following a four-year break. While the film made critical progress in the Malayalam market, Siddique additionally jumping all over the chance to redo it in Tamil as Kaavalan and in Hindi as Guardian. The Tamil adaptation, Kaavalan, featuring Vijay and Asin, likewise collected extensive film industry achievement. Notwithstanding, it was the Hindi variation, Guardian, highlighting Salman Khan and Kareena Kapoor Khan, that really arrived at unrivaled levels. Profiting from the “Bhai factor” and the film’s drawing in and entertaining storyline, the Hindi cycle rounded up more than Rs 250 crore in the cinema world. The film’s notoriety expanded further, as it was revamped with a similar title in Telugu, featuring Venkatesh and Trisha, and in Kannada.
Despite the underwhelming performance of Siddique’s third directorial, the Mohanlal-starrer Ladies and Gentlemen (2013), he made a victorious comeback in 2015 with Bhaskar the Rascal, starring Mammootty and Nayanthara, and once again lit the box office ablaze. He also adapted it in Tamil as Bhaskar Oru Rascal (2018), with Arvind Swamy and Amala Paul in the lead roles.
After a 22-year sabbatical, Siddique reunited with his previous colleague Lal in 2016, co-writing the screenplay for King Liar (Dir. Lal). The picture also did well at the box office.
Despite the fact that Siddique’s future efforts, Fukri (2017) and Big Brother (2020), which turned out to be his final directorial work, did not achieve the expected success, his notoriety remained unaffected. The passion and esteem that Malayalis had for him were so strong that the name “Siddique-Lal” became a household reference.
With Siddique’s departure, an era has come to an end.