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 !!)|
|Kaamam Krodham Moham||1975||Madhu|
|Dheerasameere Yamunaatheere||1977||M Mani|
|Oru Yuga Sandhya||1986||PKR Pillai|
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.
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
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