Padayottam ( 1982 ) | French Count, Chinese Dragon, Malayali infantry in lush Purple Lungis

[ Remitha brings up the lighter side of the Oh-So-Serious-70 MM Movie making and the grandeur of Padayottam (1982) ]

Leather Breastplates in Padayottam (1982) When The Count of Monte Christo, Alexander Dumas’ sweeping tale of love, betrayal, revenge and eventually forgiveness, was adapted for the Malayalam audience, the result was a melting pot of the international kind. From sartorial ‘elegance’ to home décor, what ended upon the screen was a potpourri of colour and pageantry with influences drawn from around the world.

You see, there is something about a man, macho enough to go about in hot pink and periwinkle blue. And when there is a whole army of them, the machismo is simply overwhelming. Couple it with leather breastplates, fancy, frilly lungis, fencing swords and glowering sneers, and the stage is set for the testosterone to burn up the screen.

The glut is only redeemed by the style statement flaunted aboard the slave galley that Udayanan /Prem Nazir is sold to, betrayed by his own brother. But then, like they say, all’s fair in love and war, and the lusturous Lakshmi/Parvathykutty was merely a pawn the plotters used to turn brother against brother. The proverbial carrot so to say, with which the scheming villain played by Govindankutty and his henchman Kammaran/Mammootty nudge the wishy washy Devan/Madhu in the ‘right’ direction.

The Rooster Head gear in Padayottam (1982)

While the ‘slave drivers’ go trouser less, sporting executioner’s headgears, the nasty captain wears something that looks like a rooster costume. Weird head comb and all— now, now, wouldn’t want to leave any doubts as to who the cock of the walk is would we? Oh, and did I mention the leather gear, whips, handcuffs, branding irons and dancing girls in strips of ribbon? Maybe there were blindfolds too😉

Fabrics from Padayottam (1982)

Udayanan lives through hell on the galley, till his day of redemption. A revealed secret treasure and a bloody mutiny later, Udayanan is now Thampan, the man with the ‘floating palace,’ oodles of money, the power which comes with it, a ravaged face, haunted eyes and burning revenge in his heart, who returns to Kolathiri Desam to extract his pound of flesh. Predictably, no one, not even his brother recognizes him, except of course for the woman he loves and had hoped would be waiting around for him.

Chinese Motifs in Padayottam (1982)

It looks like he stopped by in China en route on a shopping spree to revamp his depleted wardrobe. And so now all he dons is a flowing scarlet robe with a Chinese dragon emblazoned on it. In what could be seen as a doff to the original Count, his robe sports a high ‘Count collar’. And in keeping with the dragon motif, there is a large dragon adorning the wall behind Thampan’s ‘throne’ too, in his floating palace. What’s with the Feng Shui?

Speaking of motifs, the imagery of chess runs through the movie and we have the famous chess song and dance sequence with human chess pieces running around on the gigantic board in an enthusiastic game of chess. And this is where the Producer Appachan arranges for a nice reunion of his historic finds – Sankar, Poornima Jayaram and Mohanlal (back then that was the pecking order), fresh from their runaway hit debut. And contrary to his debut, here we find a nicer Mohanlal who appears as… wait for it… here it comes… Mammootty’s son!

Mammootty and Mohanlal in Padayottam (1982) And Sankar seems to have a penchant for the official battle garb of the Redcoats.

Well, things run their course, revenge is wreaked, shattering secrets are revealed, sins are forgiven and finally Udayanan/Thampan walks away into the sunset, still a broken man, channeling Abraham Lincoln as the words ‘With malice towards none’ roll on to the screen.

Related : Padayottam (1982) | A Sketch in Vengeful Grey

Related : Padayottam | The Magic and Machinery of 70 MM

Related : Remembering Navodaya Appachan (1924 – 23 April 2012 )

Related :  Padayottam | In conversation with Cinematographer K.Ramachandra Babu, ISC

19 thoughts on “Padayottam ( 1982 ) | French Count, Chinese Dragon, Malayali infantry in lush Purple Lungis

  1. Remy loved your take on Padayottam!😀
    I have to share at least one pic on FB (of course with due credits)
    Will be back to read it again after seeing the movie,yes I am yet to see it.
    If I remember right Kanakadurga (Nellu fame) was married to Williams

    1. Jayachechy,
      Kanakadurga was married to famous cinematographer Hemachandran, who passed away in 2001 (Thrasam, Etho Oru Swapnam etc ). J Williams was married to Shanti Williams.Thanks.

  2. I am also thinking..this was made in 82..and we still had b/w films upto 79-80..people expect a lof of color visual treats in vadakkanpattu style movies…hence the visual treat of pink, purple etc..

    1. I have often felt that the gaudy costumes and pinkish- reddish colours were inspired by Tintin – especially the costumes- Tintin author Herge used to give to the villains esp. pirates…

    2. Hi Sibi,
      Whatever it might have been, there is no doubt about how it was a visual treat. the colorful pageantry with all the pink and blue and purple undoubtedly made the 70 mm/colour experience all the more spectacular.
      Thank you for dropping by.

  3. priyadarsan has done a lot of scripting for this film … but the titles shows the name of govindan kutty as screenplay writer and our own sibi malayil was its chief associate director.

    and the fight between achan kunju and prem nazeer inside that PAAYAKKAPPAL was brilliantly shot and it took almost a month to shoot the the entire PAAYAKKAPPAL sequences..

    1. Dear Gopalji,
      there was nothing I could lay my hands on to corroborate Priyadarshan’s involvement though I had also heard about it and as you rightly mentioned, it credits only N Govindankutty. But when one compares the screenplay narrative to Kadathanaadan Ambaadi, which was a Priyadarshan ‘show’ all the way, even with Sarangapani’s dialogues and Cochin Haneefa’s screenplay, the final ‘product’ of Padayottam stays miles ahead. I am sure Priyadarshan must have had great involvement in the scripting and dialogue department specially since he being the director, but I still love the creative brilliance that ended up creating the character of Prem Nazir onscreen. Also with regards to the Paaykappal shots, Padayottam had an ‘unusual’ number of aerial shots for a movie of that kind, which added to the thrill on 70 mm. I am told that all of that, including the aerial shots on the boat, plus the introduction scene of the Floating palace were all conceived and rigged by J Williams, who did allthat at a fraction of the cost which would have normally cost the studio.Thanks so much🙂 cm

      1. J WILLIAMS was the best camera man came to the malayalam film industry at that time.. he is best remebered for his action shots.. remember SPADIKAM!! though s kumar was its chief camera man, it was J WILLIAMS who shot the market stunt sequences and the climax. prem nazeer- J williams duo created many memorable fight sequences. remember the train DACOITY scene in hariharan’s LAAVA, where nazeer himself did the whole scenes including climbing over the top of the train while he was riding a horse. even J WILLIAMS – prem nazeer has created an action adventure film called MR. MICHEL which had some of the best remembered fight sequences of prem nazeer. after prem nazeer and jayan, J WILLIAMS worked more with mohanlal, according to him , MOHANLAL was the most comfortable actor for doing any kind of ACTION scenes JEEVANTE JEEVAN and 7 muthal 9 vare are best examples other than SPADIKAM.

        J WILLIAMS started his career from UDAYA STUDIOS…

        and i remember him sleeping under a tree near GEMINI lab with torn clothes, liquor bottle, GANJA BEEDI he looked as if he was a road side beggar … that was the 1st and last time i saw him.. i could not able to look at his face for a second time in that condition… horrible!!!!!

        1. Thank you Gopalakrishnan for dropping by and sharing all that valuable information, (wow! you do know your Malayalam Cinema, don’t you!🙂 ) and that rather sad bit about J Williams’ personal life. It is indeed sad when such exceptional talents are reduced to such plights.

  4. PREM NAZEER career best performance came in PADAYOTTAM.. listen to the voice modulation and improvisations made in dubbing by nazeer especially the scene between madhu and nazeer in the climax…

    “ENNE NITHYA DUKHATHILEKKU THALLI ITTITTU NINGALKKICVIDE SWARGA SUKHATHIL AARADAM ENNU KARUTHI ALLE!!

    CHATTAVAR ADIYETTU CHANKU POTTI NJAN KARANJAPPOL, ORITTU VELLATHINAAY NJAN VINGI POTTIYAPPOL NINGAL VEENA MEETTUKA AAYIRUNNU ALLE!!

    and the chat between lakshmi and prem nazeer just after sankar’s charactor and prem nazeer’s charactor decided to fight at ANKATHATTU… awesome performance by nazeer in the 2nd half of this 3 hours and 12 minutes long movie. (saina vcd version is just above 150 minutes only)

    1. Yes that scene is awsome not only for voice modulation but also for his expressions starting with despair moving to frustration anger and vengeance..

    2. yes, i thought so too. Nazeer excellently portrayed the pain and misery he experienced. his eyes totally wore that tortured and ravaged look, haunted by all that he went through. so different from his usual performance and expressions.

    1. Dear Rajesh,
      The moment I started sifting through trivia associated with Padayottam, I realised it would take reams. Starting from the ‘Dad-Son’ combo, the only other movie where Poornima Jayaram, Mohanlal and Sankar came together for a movie after MVP, to aerial shots in a movie..there are lots.I thought might as well have the very active, informed community fill in on them.🙂 And there, it has already started..thanks..cm

    2. Hi Rajesh,
      Of course! Sankar’s voice was ‘un-missable’😉 It was a case of what to include and what to leave out… Like CM said, go on, bring on the interesting tidbits..
      Thanks for dropping by.

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