Saturday, February 23, 2013

Assistant Directors who became Directors...

During my long career I have worked with many talented people who started their career as  Assistant Directors and later on  proved their ability to become well known Directors. The list is quite long starting with M.Azad in my first film Vidyarthikale Ithile Ithile to Priyadarshan, Sibi Malayil, Matthew Paul in Padayottam, Sathyan Anthikkad and P. Chandra Kumar with Director Jesey's films.

M.T. ( L) Azad (R) with Sukumaran looking up

Sathyan Anthikkad (L) Director Jesey (sitting) and P.Chanda Kumar (R)


Rajan Sankaradi, Shajiyem  and  R.Gopinath can be seen in the photo below taken on Director Balachandra Menon's film Maniyan Pilla adhava Maniyan Pilla. Raju, Ambika and Cinematographer Nambiyathri  can also been seen.

Rajan Sankaradi, Shajiyem, R. Gopinath with Balachandra Menon
Viji Thampi  also had worked in some of Balachandra Menon's film  like Achuvettende Veedu, a location still from the film is given below.

Balachandra Menon (L) Viji Thampi in centre
 In Sundar Daas' film SALLAPAM, Blessey, Biju Varkey and Thomas Sebastian were assisting him.Blessey also had worked  in Lohitha Das' films too.

Thomas Sebastian ( 2 nd from Left)  Sundar Daas and Blessey

Biju Varkey ( L) Blessey (R) with Sundar Daas in Centre

Blessey and Rajesh pillai worked with Rajeev Anchal's English film Beyond the Soul.

Rajesh Pillai second from left  in Rajeev Anchal's film BEYOND THE SOUL
T.S Suresh Babu  was the associate of P.G. Viswambharan in several films. K.K.Haridas, Thevalakkara Chellappan also were P.G.V's assistants.

Akku Akber, Lal Jose, Salim Padiyath and also Dileep (Actor) worked  as assistant Directors with Kamal while Suryan Kunissery was the main Associate. Later on Lal Jose  worked with Director Anil Das in the film Sargavasantham before he became an indepenent director with the film Oru Maravathoor Kanavu.

Lal Jose (Right) with Anil Das ( Centre)
In Director Hariharn's film  ORU VADKKAN VEERA GAADHA, Shrikuttan  was the Associate and Mohandas  was the main assistant.

Shrikuttan (L)  Mohan Das ( extreme right) with Hariharan on the sets of Oru Vadakkan Veera Gaadha

George Kithu, Kareem, Nazeer, Paul Babu, Venu B. Nair all worked in Director Bharathan's films.  Shajoon Karyal, M. Padma Kumar, Sasi Mohan in Director I.V.Sasi's films. 

On the sets of G.S.Vijayan's film SAAPHALYAM - Salim Ahmed on extreme right

 T.K.Rajeev Kumar ( Raghunath Paleri), Salim Ahmed ( National Award winner for Adaminte Makan Abu) , Anil C Menon ( G.S.Vijayan), G. Prem Kumar ( Sasi Kumar), Joseph Vattoly ( Thomas Berly), Johny ( Thulasi Das), M.A.Venu ( Lohitha Das) Sreeprakash ( Lenin Rajendran)  are some of the others who come to my mind.

Although many started their career as assistants  some of them didn't want or they chose to remain as Associate directors for life and are excelling in their field till today.

One interesting fact is that I have been asked to do a film under their direction only by a few like   R.Gopi ( Deivathai Orthu), George Kithu ( Aadharam, Savidham) and Sreeprakash  (Gamanam).

I am very happy to find that many of those who started life as assistant directors have reached the top and had established  their own space in the Malayalam Film Industry!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

D.Gautaman , Genius away from the limelight

When I joined the Film Institute, Poona in 1968  one of the Diploma Films from the earlier batch which impressed me most was " A Love Tale" which was Directed by D.Gautaman. The way a car accident sequence's  shots were edited was a real eye opener of how shots can be taken and used to create an impact much like the famous shower scene in PSYCHO directed by  Alfred  Hitchcock. The film went on to win many awards Nationally and Internationally. His  student Documentary " The Builders" also won a few awards

D. Gautaman, as student at Film Institute

A brilliant student, Gautaman passed out from the Film Institute with Gold Medal along with Prem Sagar ( Motion Picture Photography) and Navin Nischol (Acting)  who both became stars in their respective fields.

At the Convocation -  Front row, extreme right is Gautaman and next to him is Prem Sagar

I was sure that Gautaman will definitely  become a great feature film maker in the Indian Film scenario. For some time he had worked in the Institute as part time lecturer and had also directed a Diploma film "A View from the Fort" in which Radha Saluja did the lead role and I think cienematography was done by Bala Mahendran. It was during his sojourn at the Institute I had the the opportunity to get acquainted with him.He was quiet by nature, with an unassuming personality.It was he who proclaimed that John Abraham was a Genius, says his friend and alumni Kabeer Rowther.
Gautaman later on joined Shri Ramu Kariat to assist him in the Malayalam Feature film ABHAYAM. It ws he who recommended Bala Mahendran as a talented Cinematographer to Director Ramu Kariat  and brought him to Madras from Ceylon. In those days except for Acting students in Bombay few of the Institute Graduates could get a break in the film industry. He found it hard to face  life's insecurities at the Film Industry and sought security of Government job at the Films Division. I was told that he was selected for the job of Producer by none other than the great V. Shantaram. He was much impressed when during the interview Gautaman recollected from memory a long list of films directed by Shantaram !
For Films Division he had produced many Nationally and Internationally award winning Documentaries and rose up to the top as the Chief Producer and retired. Though he ws a native of Kerala, he settled with his family in Bangalore. After retirement  he became a Member of  Advisory Committee of U.P.S.C. While on duty in Delhi for conducting an interview he had  massive heart attack and passed away on 18 th February 2013.

He was 73, and  is survived by his wife Saramma and son Soumendhu.
It was a great loss to the Film Industry that he did not attempt to make any Feature film though he was one of the most talented Directors of our time. But Films Division becme the winner by having him at its helm and Documentaries became his forte. Film Industry's loss became Films Division's gain!
Unfortunately his passing way was not given its due importance in the media since  he chose to  work away from the limelight. All I could find only was a  small obituary note in Mathrubhumi Malayalam Newspaper.

He really deserves much more recognition than this. I do hope that his friends and well wishers would  come out with their memoirs and fill the void. I was told that even  on the night before his death he was talking of his time at the  Film Institute  and reminiscing about his fellow alumni who made it into the film industry.
My heartfelt condolences to his bereaving family.