Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Like a Meteor she vanished …….

The year : 1972. Location : Kollam Hotel Neela
Cinematographer Ashok Kumar was on the camera shooting a scene involving Shobana for the film “Chemparathy” being directed by P.N.Menon. After my first film “ Vidyarthikale Ithile Ithile” with John Abraham, I was into my second feature film “Ragging” directed by N.N. Pisharady. We started the film with newcomers in the main roles, but on seeing their dismal performances we decided to rope in well known artistes. Hence myself, N.N.Pisharady and Aluva Thampy went to Kollam to contact Sudheer and Rani Chandra and get their dates for our film. That was my first meeting and she was a simple and friendly person. Though she was selected as Miss Kerala, I found her to be a typical Malayalee girl with curly hair and tanned skin with an out going nature. At Neela Hotel Bamboo bar we also had an eventful meeting with veteran Malayalam writer Kakkanadan too along with S.K.Nair playing host.

On the set of "Ragging " she was simple and friendly with every one and didn’t show any airs of stardom and was at ease with other new comers like Balan Nair and Somasundaran. Others in the cast included Vincent, P.J.Antony and Jameela Malik .

On the set of RAGGING

It was only in K.G.George’s film “Swapnadanam” her acting talent rose to its summit. It was such a powerful role and she took all efforts to perform as the director had intended. K.G.George was instrumental in polishing her talent and bringing out the hidden talent in her. Her acting in “Swapnadanam” earned her Kerala State Award for the Best actress in 1975. After that she was flooded with offers to act in many films including well known Tamil production houses.

Rani Chandra and Dr.Mohandas

Mallika, Rani, myself & Dr.Mohandas in SWAPNADANAM

Thirty five years back, on 12 October 1976, after a film career spanning only eight years, Malayalam actress Rani Chandra died in a tragic accident near Bombay Airport on a flight to Madras in an Indian Airlines Caravelle aircraft. Her last film was “Badrakali” (Tamil) in which she starred opposite Siva Kumar, was completed with a similar looking actress enacted Rani’s scenes and released after her death was a huge success.

It was really shocking news to the Malayalam Film Industry that she had left this word at the height of her career blazing a trail, she vanished like a Meteor.

I felt deeply on losing a personal friend and real human being, and on that occasion I wrote the following lines:


- (To Rani Chandra)

Through fire you made your exit
That was no trick shot.
All that remained in the end
Ashes, an indistinguishable lot.
Many longed for you
But not in this form.

Among the mourners I spot
One who still loves you.
A fellow traveller,
On a journey in dream,
Oh, a friend sweet and lovable
You sailed through enormous sufferings
A rare one who cared for others
Even if others cared not.

Your absence
None can replace
Not even memories.

An abridged Malayalam translation of this article was published in Metro Vartha on 13 October 2011.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Oops! Our Indian English Spelling

There are numerous occasions where we come across misspelled English words in boldly written sign boards etc in our country. For example in a Juice shop in Trivandrum I saw this list of milk shakes and fruit juices available there. I can understand the spelling mistake of Chocolate - written as Chockolate, may be because of the choking effect after drinking it. But what about " JINGER LAME" ? Will you become lame afterwards? Actually it was meant to be Ginger Lime !

The other day I noticed this blatant spelling mistake written on the side of the out door unit van of Kerala State Film Development Corporation. Film is spelled as " FILIM" and Development as "Devolepment". It is no wonder that any Development of the Film Industry is not taking place at Chitranjali Studios over the many years of its existence.

On the side of the Out door unit Van

Even our TV Channels do turn out to be error prone. See the picture below of CNN IBN Live Channel News Program. Read it carefully - The Government has drafted a policy to shit... what was that? Did Malayalam actor Suresh Gopi write the News headline?


Whatever we may be at home we are the best when it comes to English spelling in U.S.A. Just look at the list of Spelling Bee Winners in U.S.A and you will find lot of Indian names. The 2011 Scripps National Spelling Bee winner was Sukanya Roy of South Abington Pennsylvania, a person of Indian Origin ! Sukanya Roy won after spelling the word cymotrichous.

Can you guess what it means...... no way!

I just looked it up in the Dictionary, and the meaning is -
Curly-headed, having wavy hair

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Returning to school after 50 years

Recently I was shooting the Malayalam film LITTLE MASTER starring Lal (Siddique) and Lakshmi Gopalaswami, being directed by L.Rajendran in Thiruvavananthapuram . The location was S.M.V. High School which was one of the oldest schools in Thiruvavananthapuram established by the Maharaja Sree Moolam Thirunal and hence the name Sree Moola Vilasam High School.

Shooting at SMV H.S with Lal (Siddique)

During the shooting interval, my friend veteran Art Director and Director Radhakrishnan ( R.K.) paid a visit to meet me. He told me a very fascinating information that he had once been a student at the S.M.V. school 50 years ago and since then nothing had changed much there. The old tiled buildings and even the benches and desks in the classrooms were the very same ones from his times. Those old wooden benches had cast iron frames which were imported from England. He also told me that a portion of the school was formerly used as Police premises and lockup cells were there.

Going back in time he located the class room and the very bench where he sat during his days as a student there. his old seat at school

In his student days he had a leaning towards Communist ideology and became part of the leftist student organisation SF. In his fervour towards the party he had carved the Sickle and Hammer Party symbol on the surface of his bench.

The hand that etched...

Sitting in his old seat and running his fingers over his art work, Radhakrishnan said that he was coming there for the first time, ever since he left the school 50 years ago. It so happened only because I invited him to visit our shooting location. Though he had been living for the past many years in Thiruvananthapuram and passed the school on his way many a times, it never occurred to him to get inside and see the place.

R.K's art work

I am happy that I was instrumental for his reunion with his Alma Mater and was able to record it for posterity.

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