Madhu | The Director

Jayabharathi and Veeran in Priya (1970)
Jayabharathi & Veeran in Priya (1970) | Madhu’s directorial debut

Madhu puts forward a very interesting and thought-provoking perspective on the whole ‘business of production and direction’ in a recent interview which I was glued to, where he talks about the craft of direction and production being a part of the multiple domains that one needs to have a grasp on, when you create your story for the screen. He says the most optimal state is when one is a Director yet have a deep understanding of the way every domain work together to bring the result that you have in your head. I think, in direct inference, it also gives one a healthy dollop of confidence to try and dare traverse unknown terrains, willingly take risks, because you have knowledge and experience on your side to reasonably guide you.

According to the data that I could collate, with a whole lot of help from MSI as usual, Madhu directed 12 movies, of which he turned producer also for 5 of them, under his Uma Arts banner, and one, Manyashree Vishwamitran (1974), he co-produced with actress Sheela. [ This latter aspect needs reconfirmation as this is what I can recall from memory about Sheela producing a movie with Madhu in the 70’s, so all inputs are welcome.]

Madhu as Director | The List of movies.




Priya 1970 NP Ali (Thanks Asif !!)
Sindooracheppu 1971 Yusufali Kecheri
Sathi 1972 Madhu
Maanyashree Vishwaamithran 1974 Madhu/Sheela
Neelakkannukal 1974 KPAC Films
Akkaldaama 1975 Madhu
Kaamam Krodham Moham 1975 Madhu
Theekkanal 1976 George Thomas
Aaraadhana 1977 Satya Devi
Dheerasameere Yamunaatheere 1977 M Mani
Oru Yuga Sandhya 1986 PKR Pillai
Udayam Padinjaaru 1986 Madhu

It is an interesting range of subjects he handled in his outing as a director, in the 16 -odd years it lasted and also a roadmap on the capabilities that he assimilated and invested back in the domains that nurtured him as an excellent actor. Though his stint as a Producer wasn’t as ‘fruitful’ as he thought it would be creatively, atleast in the fag end of his tenure, his directorial ventures were a different story altogether (no pun intended). Priya (1970), based on C Radhakrishnan‘s novel Thevidissikal (Whores) was a daring production for its time, where he turned the established notions of ‘hero-driven’ screen sagas on its head by casting himself as the uncouth and soulless ‘anti-hero’ while Adoor Bhasi, till then relegated to buffoonery and the glorified sidekick was cast as the lead character !  The conditioned natural concurrence of ‘poetic justice’ we so wait to happen in the last reel,  didn’t exactly happen as you expected. Sindooracheppu (1971), I think was also the debut of Yusufali Kecheri as a Screenplay writer, and the first instance where the legendary Bharathan did the publicity and adverts for the movie for Madhu, the director ! One common factor that runs through all his movies as producer and director was his uncanny sense of getting the right people to produce the best music/songs for his movies. Each of his movies had atleast one or more songs that still remain classics to this day. And his oft-repeated composer ? Shyam !

Omalale Kandu Njaan from Sindooracheppu (1971).

Sathi (1972), a word play on the ‘self – immolation’ practice from the Vedic times, was a movie about marital discord borne out of misunderstanding and jealousy, compounded by  lies to hold on to a dark secret, pitches husband against wife, the former gets consumed by it and drugs till everything clears out in the end. Manyashree Vishwamitran, a modern take on ‘extreme celibacy’ ina normial social setting, was the movie adaptation of  Kainikkara Kumara Pillai‘s Sahitya Academy award winning  play, Mathraka Manushyan. The movie also saw the debut of one of the musical legends of Malayalam cinema, music director Shyam.

Jayabharathy in Neelakkannukal
Jayabharathy in Neelakkannukal

Neelakkannukal (1974) was the movie adaptation of ONV Kurup’s poem of the same name, and was produced by the legendary theater house, KPAC  under their KPAC Films banner, their second production. Bharathan returned as the Art Director for the movie, for a theme dipped in Red, centered around the lives of two women daily-wagers at a tea-estate and the how the entire workers come together to retaliate against the management who holds a vice-like grip over the working class. It was the perfectly aligned to the vision of KPAC.

Akkaldama (1975), also produced by him, was again an allegorical throwback to the Biblical ‘Field of Blood’, more as a playground where a group of related individuals’ where betrayal, selfishness and secrets run their last mile, and steeped in melodrama. The movie had two biblical-flavored songs too, Akkaldama than Thazvarayil and Adwanikkunnavarey, a genre that was familiar ground for Shyam, and very popular in the time.

With Kaamam Krodham Moham in 1975, Nandita Bose appeared for the first time in Madhu’s home production, and I guess it would have been quite an interesting moment for her, they sure made a great pair onscreen. The movie was again about a murder, suspected infidelity and the search for the truth behind the accusations in front of a court of law. KKM must also be the one of the rare  instances of Pattom Sadan turning singer, with “Halwa meyyaaley”.

Theekkanal (1976), with Mohan and Srividya has by now come to be known as ‘that movie’ which marked the beginning of the trial by fire’ its leading lady Srividya would go through in real life, with the whirlwind marriage with the producer George Thomas and a decade of bitter pain afterwards. I think this was also the only instance of Mohan acting in a movie helmed by Madhu (please  correct me if I am wrong.) Aaradhana (1977) was based on a story by Sulochana Rani, scripted by Dr George Onakkoor, and the only movie that KJ Joy worked with Madhu as a Director. Sarada was also the co-producer of this movie to the best of my knowledge. The movie is also famously known for one of the best-loved lullabies in Malayalam film music, “Aaraaro, Aariraaro..”, about which I have written in detail here. .

Another brilliant composition from Aaraadhana (1977), Thaalam thaalathil..

Post Dheerasameere, Yamunatheere (1977), which was his next project, Madhu took a long break of almost 9 years, before returning with two releases in 1986, Oru Yugasandhya and Udayam Padinjaaru. The latter, as the name suggests was an “Amerikkan movie”, and both of them were lack lustre, to say the least. The saving grace of  Udayam padinjaru was the refreshing and delightful set of songs, set to music by Jerry Amaldev, another  genius who never got his due share from Malayalam cinema.

Oakkumarakombathey..from Udayam Padinjaaru.

So, there! Madhu’s creative urge as a director, making movies that were at the same time current, commercially viable, yet with a strong infusion of elements from literature was a unique initiative, and I guess, was a quality he happily borrowed from the stalwarts he worked with, starting with Shobana Parameshwaran Nair, the legendary producer. According to Madhu, all his movies, that he directed and produced have recovered their costs and enjoyed a fair amount of success. As a colleague, he also had the good fortune to have collaborated with two his, as producers, Sheela and Sarada. Doesn’t that speak a lot of the enormous amount of goodwill that he enjoyed as a professional ? As they say, souls of his kind, come around, once a while.

Related: Madhu | The Producer

Related : Madhu | Actor . Director . Producer . Legend .

Related : Madhu | The Actor | Across the years

22 thoughts on “Madhu | The Director

  1. sir,,pls can u giv any information about an old malayalam movie acted by madhu sir..based on the story of jeenwaljeen…hope u may help me?

      1. Thank you sir for the reply..but i couldnt find the film in is a nostalgic memory for me..saw the film when i was a kid,it was shown in our school,,,longing to see once more..

        1. Hi Sreekala, there is nothing much I can do about it. If another copy becomes available shared by another uploader, the best way would be to contact him/her for more details. Thanks…cinematters

  2. The information you provided about malayalam old cinema is really appreciable. Be stick to it. And there are so many films which were given delightful Super Hits . Please provide those information as well..

    1. Hi GVS Films [ once again, feels really weird speaking to a are human there, aren’t you ? 🙂 ],
      Glad to know you enjoyed what you read. We will get to all those films that ruled the box-office, slowly but surely. regards..cinematters

  3. Dear all(especially CM),

    I am sincerly happ to see on Madhu here.I would like to bring your attention to two movies in which he has done double role.They are:
    1.Viplavakaarikal(with Vijaya Lalitha)
    2.Ithile Vannavar(with Sheela )
    Both require special mention.Madhu hasnt facinated me like that of Naseer or Romeo – Vincent.But few of his roles like the following had made me more attached to him.They are from:
    3.Karakaana Kadal
    4.Aranazhika Neram
    Manu J.Krishnan

  4. Hi

    Have been searching for the Mahendra Kapoor song SAGARA KANYAKA. Any idea whether this song was included in the film or not


    1. Dear Anil,
      Yes, it was very much a part of the movie. Madhu listens to the song in the car as he is driving it. Unfortunately, a copy orf the movie or the song can only be with private collectors, if any as I have almost given up on sourcing a legal copy..Regards, cinematters

      1. Hi

        thanks for the info.

        You may have definitely noted that Youtube has clippings of a couple of other songs from Priya,( telcast on Asianet plus) . Wonder how these guys got hold of a movie CD

        1. Dear Anil,
          🙂 That hasn’t gone unnoticed but I’d rather not go down that path again considering some bitter experiences I had on contacting them for details on the movie sources. Now that Asif has promised to look into it, I don’t think I would need anything more :)..Keep you posted..regards..cinematters

  5. Priya the movie was produced by Produced by N.P Ali/Jamu Pictures & not NP Abu as stated ,appreciate the correction is done

    1. Dear Asif,
      Thank you so much for that update. It has been since updated. I usually go with the MSI data when it comes to reconfirming facts, but then, an error can creep up anywhere. Would this be the same gentleman who also produced Nellu and Raagam? Have also intimated the MSI admin team on the correction. Regards..cinematters.

      PS: Also, why do I feel the striking similarity in the surnames? This would be a delightful surprise then. 🙂

      1. Appreciate your prompt response.
        I am N.P Ali’s son 🙂 and yes my father did produce Nellu & Raagam as well


        1. Dear Asif,
          😀 That’s fantastic ! Wow. 🙂 Would it also be possible to know whether a print of Priya and Ragam have survived, through your father’s archives. Any bit of information on these would be appreciated. Nellu is avbl in the market. Thanks so much for writing in. regards..cinematters

          1. i live overseas & do not have access to a copy here but guess i can try & arrange a copy next when in India sometime Jan next year if not earlier


  6. Interesting facts – did not know that Madhu actually directed movies; Bharathan as art director and publicist for ‘Priya’, Madhu using Shyam for most of his movies – made for good reading. The fact that most of these movies were based on literature material may seem unusual for modern audience but looks like it was common practice in those days – an aspect that directors should try to emulate.

    1. Dear Pradeep,
      50-odd years of sustained activity is a phenomenal achievement for an actor, in any film industry.And within that time, he built a studio, directed movies, produced them, was a master editor and there was one aspect that I seem to have missed out, his initiatives with theater. I hope to include that soon. Yes, what you mentioned about movie adaptations is relevant even now.Case in point, look how the author-backed roles of Paleri Manikyam stood out amongst the rest of the standard fare, though the climax was ‘re-purposed’ for the movie. Thanks..cinematters

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