Saturday, February 27, 2010

Storm in a Tea Cup - Sensational Journalism at its height!

I had my bitter taste of Sensational Journalism recently, when my interview was published in the renowned Malayalam Weekly, Mathrubhumi.

It all started with a long interview by K.B.Venu for the Kodak IMAGES Magazine Issue 4, 2009.
Please click on the image to see it in full size and read the articles.

Kodak IMAGES Cover Page

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When K.B Venu requested that the interview be translated into Malayalam to be published in the Mathrubhumi Weekly for wider readership, I readily agreed to his suggestion.

Mathrubhumi Interview - Page 1

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But all of a sudden a four page tirade against me appeared a few weeks later in the Mathrubhumi Weekly written by K.P.Nirmal Kumar, said to be a short story writer. Many who read the article called me over the phone to enquire whether I had any previous personal enmity with him, because there was so much venom in his words! Infact I had never met him nor known him in my life!! I was really surprised by the fact that a reputed weekly like Mathrubhumi had given him a space of four pages for him to launch his attack entitled " Doesn't Ramachandra Babu know these people?"

K.P.Nirmal Kumar's article

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M.K.Hari Kumar who writes the literary column AKSHARA JALAKAM /1793 in Kala Kaumudi weekly wrote a scathing remark, condemning the un-warrented personal attack on me by K.P.Nirmal Kumar. I thank him for his righteousness.


Interestingly K.P.Nirmal Kumar had made this remark in Facebook -

" I read Hari's column with utmost interest, even if occasionally hurts my ego. He sure can demolish established beliefs with a sharp observation, not laboriously made."
February 4 at 4:58pm · 2010

Though K.B. Venu and many of my friends like Cinematographer Sunny Joseph, Script writer Anil Mugathala responded with their reaction to Mathrubhumi Weekly, they were not published. However my rejoinder was published in the Feb 14, 2010 issue.

Mathrubhumi - My Reply


Mr.K.P.Nirmal Kumar had later on sent me a message on Facebook saying that he had no intention of hurting me and that he wrote on camera artists as a layman.( Because it was a personal message I am not disclosing the full details!)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Twin loss for Malayalam Films

Malayalam film industry recently suffered two shocking losses with in a span of one week. Actor, Writer and Director Cochin Haneefa passed away on 2 nd February 2010 and Lyrics and Script Writer Gireesh Puthenchery snatched away on 10 th February 2010. Both of them as script writers too, had made much contibution to Malayalam films, which faces a shortage of good scripts.

Cochin Haneefa
I had known Cochin Haneefa since his early days when he was seeking his fortune knocking at the doors of film directors for a chance to act in film roles. To be exact during the filming of my second film RAGGING directed by N.N.Pisharody at Alwaye in 1972-73 period Haneefa used to come to the set seeking a role in the film. He used perform his masterpiece imitation of Sivaji Ganesan to impress people, Since already all the major and minor roles had been allotted he could not be accomodated in that film.

Later on I had witnenessed his struggles at Madras to get roles and his rise as a scriptwriter and Actor. He was hard working sincere and a simpleton, qualities which made him liked by all those who came in touch with him. We had not worked much together in films, but I remember working with Vinayan's AKASHAGANGA in which he had given a supurb comic performance.

Now that he had left us all of a sudden, let us pray for his family consisting of his wife and very young twin daughters,

Gireesh Puthenchery

Twenty years back, in 1990 a young man came to see me at Hotel Maharani, Calicut during the shooting of Vijayan Karot's film BRAHMA RAKSHASS. I invited him into my rooom and offered him a cup of tea and read some of his writings. I learnt that he was a friend of Vijayan Karot and had written the script of the film BRAHMA RAKSHASS. I do not remember whether he had also written the lyrics. His name was Gireesh. I went through the script and told him my opinion about it and told a few nice words on his writing.Years later he had become a popular lyrics writer and whenever we met he used to narrate that incident and hold my hands with due respect for the kindness I had shown to a novice like him.

He had written many hit songs for my films, notable amongst them are the songs from KANMADHAM, the music of which was by Raveendran. I used to meet Gireesh often during functions and during those meetings he told me of his desire to direct a film and had insisted that I must do the Cinematography for him. Unfortunately that could not materialize as he had been invited by the Powers above to write lyrics for their Divine Music. RAMAN POLICE, his unfullfilled film project had become an orphan. I really miss you Gireesh for you have left a great void in our hearts. I pray for you and your family !

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Mammootty, the Person and Actor

While going through the website of Mammootty I came across some rare photographs , which prompted me to write this piece. His very first film was DEVALOKAM Directed by M.T.Vasudevan Nair and Produced by Janasakthi films.The film remained incomplete and never saw the light of the day. The shooting location was Palakkad and at that time P. I. Muhammad Kutty was a lawyer working at Manjeri. He was called in by M.T. to do a supporting role in the film . The lead role was done by Sabu, son of Shobana Parameswaran Nair's brother. Kannada actress Jayamala was in the female lead.

A still from DEVALOKAM
Muhammed Kutty and Jayamala leading a procession

On the set of DEVALOKAM
(L-R) Purushan Kadalundi ( Asst Director), Sreedharan Master ( Still Photographer), Sabu ( Male Lead actor) & Muhammed Kutty ( Second Lead Actor)

Since the film Devalokam stopped half way, M.T. wanted to give Muhammed Kutty one more chance in the film written by him and directed by M.Azad, VILKANUNDU SWAPNANGAL. In a confrontation scene Muhammed Kutty proved himself as an actor with much potential against a stellar performance by Sukumaran. In the film his voice was not used but instead Sreenivasan had dubbed for him!


Sukumaran, Sudheer and Mammootty in

During the shooting of VILKANUNDU SWAPNANGAL, Sreenivasan and Mammootty became closer and their friendship continues till today. When K.G.George directed the film MELA, he was looking for a new comer with smart and handsome personality as a daredevil motorcycle jumper. Sreenivasan suggested Mammooty's name while we were shooting at the Raymon circus at Ernakulam. When called for interview he told George that he can ride a bike though he had previously ridden only scooters. When the time came for shooting the motorcycle stunt jumping the truth came out! But we managed those scenes by putting on a helmet and switched places with the real stunt jumper from the circus.

MELA was a real learning experience for him as he had to enact a song sequence and also do fight scenes too! At that time there was no stunt master and when a scuffle scene between him and the circus manager (played by his friend Sharraff) was being shot, myself and K.G.George composed the action scene. I showed Mammootty , one move which he rehearsed with Sharraff, but unfortunately did not time it well and Sharraff got hit on his nose. There was some bleeding as well and ice packs were applied and the shooting continued. After the incident a scared off Sharraff left his film dreams behind and went to the Gulf to seek his fortune. But MELA was a turning point and people took notice of him and he was flooded with offers from reputed directors.

With Raghu in MELA

K.G.George, Myself & Art Director Sundaram with the Small Actors in MELA

Having done the Cinematography of all the above three films I too became good friends with him and had been associated in some of his land mark films such as Sandhyakku Virinja Poovu, Yavanika, Padayottam, Oru Vadakkan Veera Gaadha, and now Yuga Purushan. Though he appears to have a hard exterior he always had a soft corner for people who loved him. I can vouch for this from my personal experience.

It was during the shooting of Sandhyakku Virinja Poovu in 1982 at Kottayam, that I got engaged to be married. The function was held at Kollam and he drove me all the way from Kottayam in his car accompanied by his wife Sulfath and baby daughter Surumi. Below are some of the photographs taken at that time. Together we attended the function and returned back to Kottayam to resume the shooting of the film. Such was his concern towards his friends!

Waiting for the Ceremony to start

Making fun of me!

Having the traditional Lunch

Mammootty with wife and Surumi

To end up, here is a photo from my collection taken when Mammootty had to shave off his moustache for make up purposes while acting the older character role in Padayottam!
Without Moustache! During PADAYOTTAM

Monday, February 1, 2010

Generations before my Camera

During a long career in film making I had the opportunity to photograph actors from different generations - like father and son or mother and daughter etc. Some times it was father , son and grand son too! In my recent Malayalam film INGANAYUM ORAAL Vinu Mohan and his uncle Sai Kumar were acting together. I had worked with Sai Kumar's father the legendary actor Kottarakkara Sreedharan Nair in M.T.Vasudevan Nair's film NIRMALYAM way back in 1975. Vinu Mohan's mother Sobha Mohan is Kottarakkara's daughter and she had also acted in some of my films, the latest one being YUGAPURUSHAN.

Myself, Sai Kumar & Vinu Mohan

One such combination was the Late M.G Soman, his son Saji Soman and grandson. Saji Soman and his son had acted in my film BHARATHAN some time back.

With M.G.Soman

With Saji Soman and Son

With Raghavan

With Raghavan's son Jishnu

Some of the other popular combinations with whom I had worked are - Prema and daughter Shoba, Sukumaran, Mallika and son Prithviraj, Balan K Nair and son Meghanathan, T.G.Ravi and son Sreejith, Sudheesh and his father Sudakaran etc.