1934 – 31 August, 2010
S Pavamani, who passed away on 31 August, 2010 joins the ranks of an illustrious visionary greats from the old school of Malayalam Cinema, who will invariably turn footnotes if they are lucky. He belonged to that rare breed of producers who had an uncanny capability of finding productions or talents that would make them with the right balance of art and money. Though, for most of the times, he was willing to forgo the money part, and went with his convictions.
Else, how we would ever get greats like MT, Sathyan Anthikad and for that matter, our nightingale, KS Chithra become a part of the Malayalam film industry. He started as a distributor in the early 60’s, with getting the Ashok Kumar starrer Jeevan Sathi ( 1957), directed by RS Tara to Kerala, which was the precursor of things to come.I guess Pavamani was the one who made the Malayalis familiar with the then running superhits from up North, even going as far as Calcutta and getting Ray’s films down to Kerala. It is said that he was a great friend of Satayajit Ray, which explains how Debi (1960), Mahanagar(1963) and Charulata (1964) enjoyed their screen time, way down south in Kerala, a place which curiously had absolutely no idea how Bengali sounded like, and I’m sure at great personal risk in the commercial sense ! Imagine how many Ritwik Ghatak‘s or Mrinal Sen‘s creations have been brought down post 70’s for the Malayali cineaste, and you realise the greatness of this man. S Pavamani was a very sensible producer who never lost focus on the ‘business’ aspect of distribution/production. Make no mistake about it. What makes him special was the daring he displayed in getting talented people’s creations to the mainstream audience at what could be obvious business risks. He was a distributor who became a producer , and becoming the catalyst for some of the finest commercial as well as classic film productions Malayalam Cinema has ever seen, not to forget the talent he helped bring in with his visionary acumen.
Pavamani’s range of movies that he took up for distribution would have given any other distributor worth his salt a massive coronary aneurysm.Through his distributorship ( Sheeba Films, Ajantha, Navshakthi and Sithara), he struck a very curious balance in commercial and classic/arty sensibilities when it came to the movies he picked up, and on hindsight, you realise, he was a very crafty and visionary producer – two words that are almost oxymorons in today’s cinema dynamics.
Chenda (1973) was the first film produced and directed by the legendary camera man turned director, A Vincent. The patupusthakam of Chenda ( The Kerala Drum) described the film as story with The Drum as the Hero and Dance as the Heroine, brought to ‘life’ by Appu ( Madhu) and Sumathi ( Sreevidya), and only A Vincent coulld comeout with a concept like that. He was fortunate enough to have the backing of S Pavamani to get it across to the masses. Chenda (1973) was also the first Malayalam Film that S Pavamani took up for distribution.
Here is a percussive delight from the film, set to music by Devarajan Master.
It was S Pavamani who had the guts to take an off-beat, way out of the commercial stream of a movie, and have it distributed on the mainstream network of cinemas of those times. It was a big risk for MT too. Till then, he was just a script writer for established veterans like A. Vincent, Shobhana Parameshwaran Nair, KS Sethumadhavan, PN Menon to name a few. He came to his own with Nirmalayam, doing the screenplay, direction and production, and it took Pavamani to get it to the nation’s notice, eventually getting the President’s gold medal for Nirmalyam.
Here is Sreemahadevan (pulluvan pattu) from Nirmalyam (1973)
Avaludey Raavukal (1978)
If not for the combined support of Hari Pothen and S Pavamani, Avaludey Raavukal would not have happened for Malayalam Cinema. They took, this almost newbie IV Sasi and with a foresight that they were having a Classic in their hands, also made it a turning point in the history of Malayalam cinema. More than Hari Pothen, it was S Pavamani’s grit that sustained and in the end triumphed with the film, also burning up the box-office figures.
To most, it is still an erotic steamy tickler ( did you know that if you type in Seema in Youtube, it auto prompts you to the search term “Seema Hot” which will take you to a clipping from Avaludey Raavukal which has by now garnered 9 lakh views!). Does one need a greater testament in the commercial acumen and the inherent value of a movie than this? Enlighten me.
S Janaki with her classic Raagendu Kiranagal from Avaludey Raavukal.
Cheriyachante Kroorakrithyangal (1979)
John Abraham‘s second creation that shook up the feudal foundations of especially the established Christian social traditions. Adoor Bhasi called it one of his most memorable roles he had done in his lifetime, as Cheriyachen, the feudal landlord.
Pavamani was gutsy enough to even embrace the cinematic traditions of a ‘rebel’ such as John Abraham and ensure it received the exposure it deserved in the commercial mainstream, an equal opportunities fighting chance like any other film.