Saturday, June 19, 2010
Thursday, June 17, 2010
In the mid Seventies, outside the editing rooms of G.Venkitaraman and Sankunny at New Era Lab and A.V.M. Studios, I used to see a number of Assistant Directors working in connection with various films under production. I remember two of them in particular because they were wearing white shirts and white pants. They were Hariharan and P.G.Viswambharan. Hariharan was assistant to M. Krishnan Nair and P.G.Viswambharan was working with Sasikumar.
Years later in 1983, P.G. had asked me to work in his film SANDHYAKKU VIRINJA POOVU which he was planning to direct based on a popular story serialized in VANITHA magazine. I had my own reservations about working with him as he was known as short tempered and bad mouthing person. After I started working with him I found him to be a jovial person, often cracking jokes and keeping the crew on their toes, keeping up to the schedule. Only when he finds people not performing properly, he lashes out with the choicest words. But later on he will forgive and forget it altogether. The film SANDHYAKKU VIRINJA POOVU when released became a super hit and Mammootty by over night became a popular Star! Myself and P.G. continued working happily for another dozen films.
His shooting schedules were well planned and finished within the budget and usually ahead of schedule too. He was also particular that all those who worked in his films got their payments in time and he insisted on seeing that they are paid before the shooting wrapped up. Because of this quality all the technicians loved working with him. He was also a producer's delight as he finished his films within the planned amount and time. Even when some artistes had tight schedules and didn't have enough dates, he used to manipulate the shots and take the scene in such a way, as he knew very well how that can be later on edited seamlessly. Since he had his early training under Director Sasikumar, who is a master at such scene taking, he will take the master shots, combined shots and the close ups of an artiste in a hurry, from various scenes at one go and send him off in time and later on fill up the scenes with shots of other artistes.
Hence those artistes working with him too, were very happy because he will certainly finish their work within their given dates and so there is no tension about clashing dates.
Film: FIRST BELL
List of my films with P.G.Viswambharan :
1. SANDHYAKKU VIRINJA POOVU (1983)
2. PIN NILAVU (1983)
3. SAGARAM SANTHAM (1983)
4. ONNU CHIRIKKU (1983)
5. ONNANU NAMMAL (1984)
6. ORU KOCHU KATHA AARUM PARAYATHHA KATHA (1984)
7. IVVIDE EE THEERATHU (1985)
8. EE LOGAM IVVIDE KURE MANUSHYAR (1985)
9. INIYUM ITHILE VARU (1986)
10.IRIKKU M.D. AKATHUNDU (1991)
11. FIRST BELL (1992)
12. PRAVACHAKAN (1993)
13. PUTHOORAM PUTHRI UNNIYARCHA (2002)
For the past eight years he had not been doing any films and i used to meet him at Ernakulam in Association meetings, where he used to diffuse heated exchanges in tense situations by his native humour and wisecracks. We are really going to miss his presence in film makers' future gatherings at Ernakulam. I also miss a personal friend and also a relative from my wife's family.
Friday, June 11, 2010
I had also written an article going back 37 years in time, recollecting the shooting days,which was published in the book.
I am giving below the article:
I was taken aback when I was asked by M.T. to be the cinematographer of the film Nirmalyam, M.T's maiden directorial venture. The screen play was based on his short story “Pallivalum Kaal Chilambum”. At that time MT was a well known figure in the Malayalam film Industry and I was just an up coming cinematographer. He could have obtained the services of any one of the top cameramen of that day for his film. But he didn't opt for it. MT himself told me later that he did not want any top people in his film as sometimes the credit for the success of film may get attributed to them. Also he wanted the film to be done in his own way, whether correct or not without any kind of interference. At the same time he was open to creative suggestions for the betterment of the film.
I had first met M.T. while a student at the Poona Film Institute in 1970, and he had come there as visiting Professor to take Screenplay classes. After that meeting I had met him once or twice at Madras and I have done only three films before I was contacted to do Nirmalyam. My senior friend at the Institute M. Azad was the associate Director and my batch mate again from the Institute Ravi Menon was doing a prominent role and P.J Antony with whom I have done Ragging ( he had written the script and also acted in it) was doing the lead role. So I was quite comfortable in doing the film with people previously known to me. Being the youngest member in the unit, M.T. used to address me as “Thampy” meaning younger brother in Tamil. He always treated me as his younger brother and continues till now.
The shooting location was a small village near Edappal called Mukkola (Mukuthala) and there were no lodges to accommodate all the unit members. Actor Sukumaran's uncle Edappal Kuttan made arrangements in his relative's houses for Kaviyoor Ponnamma, Sumithra etc to stay. There was a rice mill in Edappal where a building with two rooms and a hall was available. We were able to get that building for ourselves. MT took one room, P.J, Antony the other and the Hall was for the rest of us. Ravi Menon, Azad and myself slept there on grass mats spread on the floor. Sukumaran was acting in his debut film and though his house was in Edappal, he also joined us to become more familiar with film making methods.
Near the temple, myself with Camera assistant Venkitaraj on the right
In those days we did not have generators for power supply, so we had to depend on KSEB for our needs. For that we have to apply for Temporary 3 phase connections with separate meters in all locations where power is needed. Fortunately we needed power in two locations only, the Temple and velichappad's house which happened to be near the temple. So we managed with one connection for both the locations. But the power situation was worse in Malabar area and the voltage was very less at night time around 120 – 150 volts. So most of our night shooting was done after 9 PM only when people switch off the lights and go to sleep. Then the power consumption load goes down and the voltage rises to a usable level of around 200 volts. So our night shoots extended till early in the morning! For daytime shooting we used reflectors which we got fabricated at Calicut, since we did not have the luxury of having a full out-door unit from Madras for use.
Shooting at the Bharathapuzha, myself on camera, M.T.(with dark glasses) and Devadas (Sound Engineer) sitting on the sands
There was full co-operation from the villagers and they always were there to help us with properties for the scenes and also acting in minor and crowd scenes. In fact they got so attached to the unit, many children were in tears when it was time for us to depart after the shooting was over. Except for the Sreekovil portion all other scenes were completed in one schedule. We had erected a set in Calicut where the Sreekovil with the idol where close up shots were taken. It was because in the temple which was used for our shooting there were no regular Poojas taking place and more over it was such a cramped place and customs prevent you from entering it too for placing lights etc. For other outdoor locations, we used the steps on the riverside at Thirumittakode temple for the parting song and a cave nearby for the rain sequence which was done with the help of fire engines.
The post production work was done at Madras and again a house was rented and people slept on the floor on grass mats. Food was mostly cooked there and we had a nice time of staying together like a family. Never again I have worked for such a film from beginning to end in such a manner. That was a very memorable experience in my film career as such!
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
I have fond recollections of working with him, many years back in two Malayalam films directed by him - AMME ANUPAME ( B&W 1977) and NAKSHATRANGALE KAAVAL (1978). He was a strict disciplinarian on the sets and very friendly after shooting hours. He never worked extended hours and with his meticulous planning, he finished films well in time and within the budget. He always was very sure of his shot takings and never wasted film footage and used to complete feature films utilizing only 20 to 25 thousand feet of raw stock! During the film, NAKSHATRANGALE KAAVAL's shooting we were staying in one room at Tara hotel ( now SUT Hospital, Pattom Palace ) and our after shooting hours were spent in discussing a wide range of topics under the sun. I was amazed at his extensive knowledge and wealth of reading. It is rare to come across such persons in our film Industry.
We were together again a few years back, as part of South Indian Cinematographers' Association's SICA Film Award Jury at Chennai and renewed relationships.
1992 T.E. Vasudevan
1993 Thikkurissy Sukumaran Nair
1994 P. Bhaskaran
1996 A. Vincent
1997 K. Raghavan
1998 V. Dakshinamurthy
1999 G. Devarajan
2000 M. Krishnan Nair
2001 P.N. Menon
2002 K. J. Yesudas
2005 Aranmula Ponnamma
2006 Mankada Ravivarma
2007 P Ramadas
2008 K Raveendran Nair
2009 K S Sethumadhavan