But there didn't seem to be that many film dances available of him, and I figured there must be hidden treasures lying in the archives of Malayalam cinema featuring such a great dancer. Online resources and interviews weren't any help and only alluded to many unnamed films that contained his dances. Even his official website is sparse and defunct. So, I went on one of my obsessive research journeys through Vineeth's filmography and tracked down all of the DVDs and online clips available. Imdb.com's filmography isn't complete, but malayalasangeetham.info helped fill in the rest (and is a fantastic resource for older Malayalam films that I learned of at the Old Malayalam Cinema blog).
As an aside, Vineeth had quite the encouragement and family tree when he was young. In this rediff interview, Vineeth notes how his aunts Padmini and Ragini (yes, that Padmini and Ragini!) forced his parents to send him to dancing school. He relates, "Whenever Pappi valliama (Padmini) visited us, I used to go after her with tons and tons of question and she used to tell me all about films, how they are made, etc. Even though she was a famous actress, she was very humble. She used to even dance for me. It was she who taught me how to use eyebrows effectively in dances." He is also the cousin of Shobana, so he clearly had the cream of the crop of dancing influences when he was younger!
From my research, I've listed below all the films and clips I could find that showcase his classical-based dances. I must say overall I'm a bit... underwhelmed. It seems like he's never really been given any meaty classical dances to perform as most of his numbers are light and fluffy with lots of pretty hand movements and little difficult extended dancing. Though perhaps this is as he wishes, since he is heavily focused in real life on studying and perfecting dance and still practices to this day (currently Bharatha Nrityam, a form claimed to be revived by Padma Subramanyam).
Extended Dance Sequences:
Uliyin Osai (Tamil, 2008) - "Yethanai Bhavam" - When I first heard of this film, I had hopes that it would be like "Saagara Sangamam" was for Kamal Hassan in terms of showcasing Vineeth's classical dance skills. After browsing through it, I was severely disappointed; it is gaudy, cheap, ugly, and simply a terrible film that does no justice to its period story surrounding temple sculptures and dance. Whoever did Vineeth's costuming, makeup, and horribly-fake wig did such a disservice to him; he looks ridiculous, and I just cannot take his performance in this film seriously. The only positive is that he gets to dance an extended solo for once in "Yethanai Bhavam." Clearly, his dance skills are obvious, but there's enough things I don't like (his facial expressions, for one) that this isn't a rewatch song for me.
Chandramukhi (2005, Tamil) - "Raa Raa" - The Tamil version of the famous "Oru Murai Vanthe" from Manichitrathazhu. According to this interview, Vineeth was offered the role of the male dancer in Manichitrathazhu but unfortunately couldn't accept due to previous film commitments (which is a shame- I would have loved to see him dance with his cousin Shobana!), and Rajinikanth is the one who suggested Vineeth for the same part in the Tamil remake! The only thing I wish is that Jyothika's performance would be much toned down and less over-the-top. And that uh... Vineeth would get a better wig.
Bhool Bulaiyya (2007, Hindi) - "Aami Je Tomar" - The Hindi version of "Raa Raa" above, Vineeth gets to don the same role again! I like "Raa Raa" better in terms of the choreography, and although the Hindi song is gorgeous, it doesn't have the minor-chord, creepy quality the other versions have. And again... what's with Vineeth's wigs?
Banaras (2009, Malayalam) - "Madhuram Gayagi Meera" - For a film about a man (Vineeth) researching folk dances and a woman (Kavya Mahadevan) doing a post-grad in classical dance, Banaras has a surprising dearth of classical dance sequences. There is only one- the song "Madhuram Gayagi Meera," in which both Vineeth and Kavya dance together amidst cheesy set props and paintings.
Kamaladalam (1992, Malayalam) - "Premodaaranaai Anayoo" - In the second half of this song, Vineeth gets ample opportunity to dance; I am enamored with the crisp lines he makes with his body. In fact, I think this is my favorite filmi classical dance of his! The song itself, with its varied percussion instruments, is delightful. And through my browsing of the film, the entire movie looks fantastic and chock full of classical dance.
Mazha Villu (1999, Malayalam) - "Sivadhum Sivanaamam" - The first two minutes of this song allow Vineeth the opportunity to showcase some beautiful classical-fusion moves. Unfortunately, the song suddenly changes the scenery to a boring modern-day love triangle number after that. Seems they had to put their "Vineeth dancing" quota in somewhere! I must warn, this movie is another one of Vineeth's obsessive-love films with a sad ending.
Oru Muthassi Katha (1988, Malayalam) - "Nalla Muthassiyamma" - In this melodic song, a 19-year-old Vineeth performs some light classical-based moves with his young co-star. His dance training is very clear, particularly in how he holds his body and arms with crisp precision. And doesn't he look so young!
Briefer Dance Sequences
Parinayam (1994, Malayalam) - This period film was a complete joy to discover- it's a sensitive, National Award-winning village film about social practices with some short Kathakali performances and scenes in it starring none other than Vineeth!
Here, Vineeth can be seen briefly practicing Kathakali with a group.
In this scene, Vineeth can be seen performing a small bit of Kathakali on stage (starting around 4:20) in full costume. The purpose of the scene is to introduce his seduction of the young woman looking on; if you keep watching, a beautiful love-making scene begins around 8:20; I am so reminded of Vanaprastham.
Kamaladalam (1992, Malayalam) - Here, Vineeth practices Kathakali (and gets disciplined) in class.
Chemistry (2009, Malayalam) - Vineeth plays a Kathak instructor in this film
Usthad (1999, Malayalam) - This scene features Vineeth dancing in a brief group performance on stage that is being filmed. Too bad Mohanlal ruins it and makes it end early! Though it just seems like an excuse to have another place for Vineeth to dance in the film.
Uliyin Osai (Tamil, 2008) - "Kaalathai Vendra Oruvan" - This song is so atrociously bad, but Vineeth does dance a bit so it belongs on the list.
Just a Skiff of Dance
Usthad (1999, Malayalam) - In the "dance instructor" role yet again, Vineeth (wearing some fabulous 90s glasses) demonstrates some vague moves to his class in this brief clip.
Idanazhiyil Oru Kalocha (1987, Malayalam) - "Vaathilppazuthiloode" - Baby-faced 18-year-old Vineeth dances some classicalish moves very briefly around 1:14 and 2:43. Shame the focus is on the girl dancing instead of showcasing Vineeth's moves! The song is also apparently very famous and beloved in Malayalam cinema.
Jathi Malli (1992, Tamil) - I'm not sure what exactly Vineeth and his fabulous mullet are doing in slow motion here, but since it looks vaguely classical it's included. Although what I really want to point out in the clip is that part at 6:33 in which a segment from the song "Manmadha Leelai" from the 1944 film Haridas is showing playing on a screen! I think the woman dancing is T. R. Rajakumari- oh how do I wish I could find this song!
Video not available online.
I'll end with a note that Vineeth has danced a few other styles in his films. He plays a dancer in Rathri Mazha, and most of his dances are modern with a smidge of classical influence (you can see him practicing here). In Darling Darling, he does some modernish dancing in the embarrassing period song "Muthum Pavizhavum" (watch it just for the costumes!). According to Vineeth's website, he played a Theyyam dancer in the film Kaalchilambu, but I cannot find a single bit of information anywhere online, so I'm guessing the film wasn't completed or released. I'll also throw in a clip of him dancing outside of the film world, on stage, in 1992.
Know of any other film dances he's been in?
And because I don't want to make a whole post just for screencaps, I just HAD to post these caps of Vineeth from his various films all the way back to the 80s. Blogger images are driving me nuts, so I'm not listing film titles, but you can find them in the image filenames. Enjoy!