The Patriarch of Malayalam Publishing passed away into the worthy pages of history. Mr.K.M Mathew, Chief Editor of the Malayala Manorama family was laid to eternal rest today, the 2 August, 2010. The Official Homepage of Manorama, was aglow ( quite rightly) with tributes that flowed from all over the globe that recognized and honored a “Planter”, who gradually became the doyen of Indian Publishing. Amidst all these , the tributes, the press releases, the memoriams, and the tearful soundbytes, it was a tad amusing to note the conspicuous absence of any mention of the personality that inspired an almost similar vein in character sketches across a handful of Malayalam thrillers.
It was thinly veiled, with references that almost stopped short of blurting out the ‘reality’, and chose comfortably to stay behind the perceived ‘security’ of ‘creativity.’ The character always mirrored the signature sartorial style , complete with the khadi kurta ensemble, the trademark thick glasses, the chubby demeanor that always hid an incisive, enterprising and sharp mind. And most of the time, it was Sri Jagannatha Verma who did the honors, and that too with aplomb. I guess he was the perfect choice for portraying this ‘fictional media baron of Kerala’ and also the ‘ fictional, regional head of the Catholic faith of Kerala’ that it was more of a cliche’ than a thought-out portrayed role.
The Malayalam Daily headed by this patriarch always vacillated between Malayala Rema , Kerala Rema and Kerala Reshmi in most of the films, and mostly the characters spoke in oblique refernce about the hideous media manipulations of this power center at Kottayam, making it amply clear as to whom they were referring to, without spelling it out, lest it invited legal action! Though casual references were plenty through the later 90’s and through the 2000’s, nothing came as close as the Joshy-Renji Panicker potboiler Pathram(1999), a staple assembly line product of the Renji Panicker stable. With Suresh Gopi again as the ‘imported crusader from Delhi’ this time in the Associate Editor’s role of the Kerala Daily Kerala Reshmi, he goes around eviscerating his ‘Chief Editor’, the city Deputy Sup. of Police and the arch villian ( NF Varghese as Vishwanathan), with the usual heavy-duty vocal gymnastics in English (all promptly translated into an equally fatigue-inducing Malayalam prose by himself, thank you very much), which made it a fair hit at the box-office. What made it all the more spectacular was the portrayal of the media house based at Kottayam which didn’t give any room for doubt, headed by the ‘fictional Mathukutty Achayan’, Jagannatha Verma was actually living the role!
Watch the most effective portrayal of the ‘fictional media baron’ of Kerala, and his epic showdown with his Assoc Editor! It starts at 1.00.
And it continues here.
Whatever said and done, it is the passing of an era in reality. Something so unique, that it has ensured a vacuum in reelity too. You just have to admit it, it would be really, really hard to create and effectively portray a media baron in Malayalam Cinema in the coming years. Think about it!