Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Captain's Salute to A Soldier

During the location  shooting of K.G.George's film "Elavamkodu Desam"(1998) at Olappamanna Mana at Vellinezhi,  actors Thilakan, Narendra Prasad and Captain Raju were staying in the same hotel near Ottappalam. Although Captain Raju did several roles in many films as Villain, it was the character of Aringoder in ORU VADAKKAN VEERA GAADHA that brought up his acting potential in him. After that film onwards he had changed his mind and refused to do negative character roles in further  films.

During one of the after shooting drinking sessions, Thilakan, Narendra Prasad and Captain Raju were having a heated discussion about performing in films, stage etc. Prof Prasad and Thilakan went deep in to the merits and demerits of various styles of acting in theatre, dance, classical arts etc about which Raju didn't have any clue at all. Finally when Thilakan remarked something about the wooden faced expressions of Raju, he could not bear any longer  and burst up - " Thilakan! You may be the Award winning Best actor in India, but remember I am a Captain in the Army and you were just a foot soldier. As a superior Officer whenever you see me,  you are bound to stand up in attention and salute me !."

Captain Raju's Farewell Salute to Thilakan

Whether it was intentional or not , the above incident came to my mind when I witnessed the scene of Captain Raju giving the Farewell salute  to Thilakan's body lying in state at the V.J.T Hall, Thiruvananthapuram. Here is a Captain saluting a Soldier - yes, a Bold, Brave Soldier who single handedly fought against all evils in the film industry!

Thilakan and Babu Nambbodiri in
Elavamkodu Desam

On Location at Elavamkodu Desam ( From L to R) Bharat Gopi, K.G.Georgr Mammootty, MAK Ali, myself and Thilakan

I had known Thilakan for more than 40 years,  ever since he started his career in films in P.J.Antony's Directorial venture PERIYAR. At that time (1972) I was at Alwaye shooting the film RAGGING (Director: N.N.Pisharody ) which was scripted by P.J.Antony. Later on we worked together on  K.G.George's film KOLANGAL  based on P.J Antony's subject. It was only YAVANIKA which brought Thilakan to limelight and earned him the First of the many State Awards. Since then I had the opportunity to work with him in several films including a Double role in  MUGHAMUDRA directed by Ali Akbar.

Like a jack fruit he had a tough thorny outside  but a soft sweet interior. His tough looking exterior might frighten people but when you become closer you will understand his goodness and outspoken nature. He had the  natural tendency  to pick up arguments for argument's sake, and relish it. For example, when some one on the sets greets him "Good Morning , Sir!"He will call him and tell  " Hey, what is so good about the morning, today is just like any other morning, so don't use the word  good  when you are wishing" Then the guy agrees " Ok. Morning Sir!" Then Thilakan will retort " Oh man, It is morning only and everybody knows it and why you have to say it again" The guy surrenders and says just  " Sir" Thilakan  cuts him off by saying"Look , we are all human beings and all men are equal,so  please don't call me sir" The dumbfounded poor fellow avoids greeting him from the next time onwards.

He was always precise with his words. When he reads the script he will point out unnecessary words and repetition of dialogue. And most of the time he as correct and the Directors made the necessary changes in the script. Being a Theatre Director,  he had an excellent sense of performance and dialogue delivery.

I distinctly remember him arriving on the location of the film GHAZAL (1993) at Perinthilmanna in his Fiat Premier 118NE car. It was just after his By Pass Surgery at Chennai and he had driven the car all the way from Thiruvananthapuram to Perinthalmanna all alone. When we asked him why he had not taken the services of a driver , he said he never liked others driving the car. He had consulted the doctor regarding the driving and he had advised him to take a few minutes rest and a little walk after every hour of driving. But he didn't stop that many times and drove on . That shows his will power and boldness. Any other person would have arrived with a driver and helper just to show off.

We had to film an early morning song in a Mosque set with him and Vineeth and it required him to get up early at 4 AM and be ready with make up and be on the set by 5 AM. As we have to shoot just as the sun rises we had only a few minutes to take the shot. So the song was shot over several days, early in the morning and in spite of his physical conditions he was already on time to take the shot. Such was his dedication towards work.

Though Thilakan had acted in a notable role in Director K.G.George's  film KOLANGAL,  it was a stage curtain that was instrumental in landing Thilakan  his First State award winning role in  K.G.George's film YAVANIKA. The Production Executive of the film P.A.Latheef,  in order to save production costs suggested to George, that if we book Thilakan for the role of the Drama troupe owner we can also get the stage curtain for free as Thilakan was running his own  Drama Troupe at that time.So, whenever the shooting schedule of YAVANIKA was fixed, Latheef would telephone Thilakan to remind him to bring the stage curtain along with him !

The last film  work we did together was the Film SAPHALYAM(1999) directed by G,S,Vijayan and after that we could not get an opportunity to be associated together. Of course I occasionally used to meet him at public functions and at  his daughter's marriage. The last time I saw him was at the Thiruvananthapuram  KIMS Hospital a few days before his demise and that time he was in a totally unconscious state.

Indian Cinema had lost a Great Performer and upright Personality !

On Location of the film SAPHALYAM with Director G.S.Vijayan

Sunday, January 22, 2012

My Unreleased Tamil Films - 2

The film PAADUM VANAMPADI which was the Tamil remake of Mithun Chakraborty's Super hit Hindi film DISCO DANCER, starring new comer Anand Babu ( son of veteran actor Nagesh ) was a very great Musical hit and ran for more than One Hundred days at Chennai and other centres. The Director of the film M. Jayakumar was flooded with many film offers from big production companies. After some failed projects he took up a film named KADHAL VIDUTHALAI. The Puja invitation card can be seen below:

The film starred Ramki, Janakaraj, Nizhalgal Ravi, Vennira Aadai Murthy, Nishanthi, Manorama, Subha etc. and Music by S.A. Rajkumar. The shooting took place in Chennai and Ootty and other locations.

With Director M. Jayakumar

Actress Manorama with the crew

The film shoot went on smoothly without any hitches. The editing and re-recording done and finally the first copy was taken. Unfortunately there was some dispute amongst the producers and the film never got released ever. After a few years I heard that there was a change of title and the film will be released, but that never happened.

The Director Jayakumar never could make any other film and had started a retail business for livelihood.

Another Tamil Film that failed to take off

Director Bhadran wanted me to work in his Tamil film EZHAVATHU SWARAM in which he wanted to introduce Actor Vineedh to Tamil audiences. The Puja was conducted with all pomp and publicity with Chief Minister Kalaignar Karunanidhi inaugurating the function. But the film never progressed any further!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

My Unreleased Tamil Films - 1

Some time back Actor Devan called me regarding a Tamil film " Puthiya Swarangal" in which he had acted in the main role and was completed in 1991 but was not released. He now wanted to give the film for Telecasting purpose in Tamil Satellite Channels. Unfortunately the film negatives that were stored in the Prasad Film Laboratories at Chennai were damaged beyond repair. I wonder how many such films of the past in different parts of our country are getting lost because of our carelessness. Already a large portion of our film heritage in Black and White films have been lost for ever.Still we do not have a Film archive in South India!

It was the First and only film Directed by Tamil actor Vijayan and produced by Good Knight Films. Being a very popular actor and a favourite of Director Bharathi Raja he had all top technicians lined up for his maiden venture in Directing - Music by Ilaya Raja, Lyrics by Kavinjar Vaali, Gangai Amaran, Editing by V. Lenin etc. The song cassettes released were very popular.

Song Cassette


So much effort was put in the making of film in locations at Chennai and Ootty where Art Director Radhakrishnan had erected some beautiful sets in studio floor and out door locations which were enhanced by glass Matte paintings.

Even though the film was complete and the first copy was taken, for some unknown reason it was not released and still lying in the cans,


Diwali Greeting Card

Below is the Pongal Greeting Card sent in 1991 as part of film publicity, that was 22 years ago!


Yet another Pongal...... All my Best wishes to every one!