There’s something weirdly fun about shared universes: when characters from one film spill onto another at an unprecedented juncture. Hollywood (Marvel) has set a gold standard for this with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, fine-tuning it with each release since Iron Man (2008). Bollywood is now following suit with the advent of a “cop universe” (Singham, Simmba and Sooryavanshi). It’s not yet a trend we’ve seen on a noticeable scale in Kerala for sure. But there have been efforts to expand an already-existing, usually popular film milieu; either by taking some characters from that film and continuing their arcs, or by bringing them into a different story altogether, or even by just referencing them (this would prove that they existed in the same place and timeframe). Here are a few such examples we could think of. The list is definitely not exhaustive. If you think we’ve missed out something, add ’em in the comments section!
Diwanjimoola Grand Prix, Kasthooriman, Pranchiyettan and the Saint, Thoovanathumbikal, Sapthamashree Thaskaraha and Trivandrum Lodge
Anil Radhakrishnan Menon’s Diwanjimoola Grand Prix draws in a string of Thrissur-based characters from different films: from Rishi (Ashokan) to Sajan Jospeh IAS (Kunchako Boban) and Subramaniyam (Tini Tom) to Leaf Vasu (Sudheer Karamana).
Also, an aged version of Thangal (another character from Thoovanathumbikal) makes an appearance in Trivandrum Lodge. Maybe all these films happened in the same lokam, who knows?
Kilukkam series and Nadodikattu series
In Kilukkam Kilukilukkam – which is set a few years after the events of Kilukkam – we learn that Appachan (Salim Kumar) and Roy (Kunchako Boban) have also been sold the Dubai dream and have been played by Gafoorkka (Mamukoya): exactly how he pulled a fast one on Dasan and Vijayan in Nadodikattu.
Second Show and Koothara
The protagonists in Koothara are heavily debt-ridden at a point. Director Srinath Rajendran adds some subtle name-dropping of characters from his debut film Second Show – Lalu (Dulquer), Kurudi (Sunny Wayne); indicating that the debt was probably taken from Vavachan’s (Baburaj) finance company. It will be interesting to see if Srinath’s third film, Kurup, is also going to be set in the same universe.
Punjabi House and Role Models
One of the most celebrated characters from the Rafi-Mecartin duo is Ramanan (Harisree Ashokan). So it is not surprising that Rafi decided to get this character back to the big screen for a guest appearance in his 2017 film Role Models. In this brief scene on a boat, Ramanan also alludes to a photograph of his muthalali (Cochin Haneefa).
Maheshinte Prathikaram and Kattappanayile Hrithik Roshan
Both these films are set in Kattappana, Idukki. In KHR, right after the interval, Kichu (Vishnu Unnikrishnan) tells Dasan (Dharmajan) that Ann (Prayaga Martin) got her portfolio made at Bhavana Studio, owned by ‘Maheshettan’.
Oru Vadakkan Selfie and Anandam
When Arun and Gautham go to get the Sundown tickets at Goa, the man at the counter says that they have been cheated by a “known fraud”, and goes on to show the photo of…Shaji (Aju Varghese) from Oru Vadakkan Selfie? And it’s highly probable, considering how Shaji and Umesh kept trying to find ways to make a quick buck.
Neram and Sringaravelan
SI Ukken Tintu (from Neram) comes in at a crucial point in the second half of Sringaravelan. But the last time we saw him, Tintu was the Sub-Inspector at Mandaveli, Chennai. Did he get transferred to Kerala a few months later?
Dhamaka and Chunkzz
Omar Lulu adds a lot of meta-references in his films that only true fans can get. It’s a possibility that there’s one big corny/horny fictional world where all these stories happen. Anantharaman, a friend of mine, found how Romo from Chunkzz is referenced in Dhamaka. (Yes, he watched both.) There might more inside jokes within this world, and if you know any, let us know in comments.
Meesa Madhavan and Queen
In Meesa Madhavan, Advocate Mukundan Unni is a budding lawyer who is desperate for cases. When he famously shuts Eappen Pappachi with a one-minute punch dialogue, he becomes regarded as a talented lawyer. Years later, he helps fight for Chinnu’s justice in Queen.
Bonus: Ali Bhai, Sagar Alias Jacky Reloaded, Oppam, Pulimurugan, Velipadinte Pusthakam and Lucifer
In all the above films, Antony Perumbavoor comes in an uncredited role; either as a bus driver or a passenger or a jeep driver or a man at the pub. For all we know, it could be the same character making appearances in all these movies at different points of his life. An Aashirwad Cinematic Universe, if we may? xD
Now you may have realized that we have consciously avoided picking sequel films: they obviously operate in the same universe. In addition to this, there have also been attempts at ‘combined sequels’ (eg. King and the Commissioner, Balram Vs Tharadas) where two characters from different films (usually written by the same person) are brought into one film. And then there are character spin-offs: Pavanai from Nadodikattu comes in Pavanai 99.99; Ambujakshan from Azhakiya Ravanan is the protagonist of Chirakodinja Kinavukal; Sarojkumar from Udayananaanu Thaaram has Padmasree Bharat Dr Saroj Kumar; Dr. Sunny from Manichitrathazhu solves a new conflict in Geethanjali…these films are also noteworthy attempts at exploring their predecessors.
Considering the relative ease with which multi-starters can be made in Kerala – I mean, which other industry can boast of a Twenty20? – the chances are ripe that sometime down the future when the stars align (literally) and there is a right script, we also get our own cinematic universe. Will it be a superhero one? Will it be a dystopian science fiction? A historical one, perhaps? Uff, too many questions!