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

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