Mollywood actor Jalaja is attending the Cannes Film Festival. Here's why

Actor Jalaja with her daughter Ammu (Devi)
Actor Jalaja with daughter Ammu (Devi). File photo: Malayala Manorama/R S Gopan

As the red carpets are rolled out in Cannes this year, Mollywood too will flaunt its presence -- actress Jalaja is attending the prestigious event.

Jalaja, who made a brief comeback through Fahadh-starrer 'Malik' last year, will be gracing the event with the likes of actors like Nawasuddin Siddique and south Indian actors Nayanthara and Tamannah. The event is special for the actress as the restored version of the 1978 movie 'Thampu', by legendary film director G Aravindan and starring Bharath Gopi, Nedumudi Venu and herself is being screened in the Cannes Classic Session this year.

Jalaja says she is thankful for the opportunity and can't still believe that she is part of something so big.“Attending the Cannes is something you have only read about other actors. So, this is very special to me. I am so happy that a classic like 'Thampu', which is a gem to Malayalam cinema, is being restored,” she said.

Jalaj will be reaching the French Riviera to attend the Cannes with her daughter, Devi on May 19.

The actor who rose to popularity with her performances in Malayalam evergreen classics like Yavanika, Marmaram, Venal, and‘Shalini Ente Koottukari' credits her success to G Aravindan and Nedumudi Venu.

“If it were not for this film and Aravindan sir and Venu chettan, I don't think I would have been who I am today,” she says.

According to her, she was cast in 'Thampu' when she was pursuing her pre-degree.“I still remember how much awestruck I was seeing Bharat Gopi because that was the first time I was seeing an award-winning actor,” she recounts.

Jalaja remembers she did not have any dialogue in the movie. “I was relieved because I could then just concentrate on my acting as I was a newcomer, she adds.

Even then, she was aware Thampu was different from the rest of the commercial movies the Malayalam film industry was churning out those days.“Credit should also go to the producer of the movie K Ravindranath Nair who showed keen interest to produce such movies. Jalaja will be travelling with a delegation from Kerala, including Ravindranath's son Prakash, to the Cannes. They will be accompanied by archivist and filmmaker Shivendra Singh Dungarpur, who was instrumental in ensuring the movie 'Thampu' reached the Cannes.

“Shivendra had told how painstaking the process of restoring the movie was because so much of it has been lost. The hard work to restore the masterpiece also deserves a lot of appreciation,” she adds.

Jalaja, for now, is tightlipped about what she and her daughter, who made her acting debut in 'Malik', will be choosing to wear at the film fest.

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