For every movie that reaches the cinema – there are tales of more than a dozen stories that never made it . Some were killed even before germination took place; some were aborted midway; and some still are imprisoned, for a lifetime hoping that someday at some time – they will be released. പെട്ടിയിലായപടം – the phrase itself originated along with the release of the first movie in Malayalam. History has it that Vigathakumaran and Marthtandavarma were relegated to the cans days after its release. Thankfully, at least they got to be released at least for 2 or 3 days. The first Malayalam movie that attained the status of “പെട്ടിയിലായത്” ? must be Bhootarayyar – (1939 – 40) made by the same team that brought us Balan. KK Aroor, M.K. Kamalam and a young comedian named SP Pillai acted in this movie – but the movie was shelved due to the death of its producer.
Luck also did not favour two of the actors of Balan. Gopinath who acted as Kittu Panicker in Balan tried his hands in production with a movie called Aakasha Paravakal; and Aleppy Vincent invested money for a project called Mathavu and later Kedavilakku– but all these projects were dropped midway due to financial constraints.
1950s – 80s : of the movies of Sathyan, Nazeer, Madhu, Jayan et al
During 1950-51, novelist Balakrishnan, son of former Travancore chief Minister C. Kesavan got enamoured by the tinsel world and decided to make a movie. Two youngsters – one with a rugged look and the other with a chocolate boy look were cast in the lead. But turbulent politics and finally the fall of the Kesavan ministry also marked the end of Balakrishnan’s dream. But the two heroes subsequently created waves in Malayalam cinema. They were Sathyan and Prem Nazeer and the movie was Thyagaseema. Another dream project pairing Sathyan and Nazeer was Ettuveettil Pillamar (dir. Veliyam Chandran) but the project was revamped with the director shown the door and Panchavankadu came in its place, with Kunchacko himself directing the movie. In fact the first three movies of Sathyan failed to see the light of the day. They include other than Thyagaseema, Kedavilkakku and The Pious.
Kallippalakal Poothu – Panchavan Kaadu ( 1971 )
During the late Sixties – a versatile young director decided to make a movie called Kamuki (1966 – 67). An equally versatile art director joined him- and the movie was supposed to be a commercial one with songs and all that. Madhu, Adoor Bhasi, PJ Antony and Sarada were in the movie and it was based on a story by C.N. Sreekantan Nair. However, differences between the writer and the director crept up and the project was shelved. The said director also faced a problem with his next movie Prathisandhi (1971). The said movie was completed and it came up for consideration before the State Award Committee in 1971, but unfortunately did not get a commercial theatrical release. But the director’s third movie became a classic and heralded in a new era of film making in Kerala. The director was Adoor Gopalakrishnan and the art director was G. Aravindan. Had Kamuki been completed – this would have become the only movie in which Adoor and Aravindan collaborated. Another interesting trivia is that nowhere does Adoor mention that Prathisandhi is his first completed movie – and each official filmography lists Swayamvaram as his debut outing.
Madhu, Sheela and Sattar had joined hands for a movie to be directed by SL Puram. Based on his drama Nidhi, the movie version was named Poya Dinangale Vannittu Pokoo, but that too was abandoned midway. The 70s showed some interesting Prem Nazir projects being abandoned midway. One of the major movie projects which was announced with much fanfare but didn’t materialise was CID Nazir Kochiyil (1972-73) which should have been the third part of the CID trilogy by Venu. However, differences between Venu and Nazir crept up and this movie didn’t happen. Venu went on to make Prethangalude Thazhvara with Raghavan in the lead and Adoor Bhasi reprising his role as CID Bhasi, but the film bombed in the box office ending once and for all the CID series.
Anthaman Abdullah was a project announced with much hullabaloo by Melattoor Ravivarma – but it failed to take-off. So was the fate of Gangayar Ozhukunna Nadu planned by Hariharan with Nazir, Soman and Unnimary in the lead and of Anyar directed by Thoppil Surendran pairing Nazir and Jayabharathi. Suvarnakshetram directed by K.S. Gopalakrishnan with Nazir, Jayabharathi and Kalaranjini has been completed – but legal wrangles stand in the way of it being released. Other Nazir projects which failed to see the light of the day are Chitariya Pookkal, Kaamashastram, Eeswara Jagadeeswara, Anthassu, Gurudevan, Kunjikoonnan etc. But the major Nazir project- rather his dream project which reached only the poster level was the one he planned to produce and direct – Kanyakumari to Kashmir. Likewise save for the posters nothing further materialised in three Udaya movies Pattalkkarante Premakatha, Chandanathiri and Naladamayanti which were to star Nazir. General Pictures had announced a movie adaption of Basheer’s Mathilukal featuring Nazeer and Lakshmi in the lead – but it never took off. Another pairing of Nazir and Lakshmi, tentatively titled Manju (dir. Sreekumaran Thampi) also stopped at the song recording stage. Another movie titled Valarthumrigangal was initially planned with Nazeer and Jayalalitha in the lead – and noting materialised save for the announcement. Other shelved projects of the late Seventies include Thidambu (Nazir and Swapna), Adharangal Vithumbunnu (Soman) and Mayilpeeli (Sukumaran and Jayabharathi).
Moving to the 80’s – the major movie – which still remains in the cans is Pancha Pandavar – the last movie of the legendary Jayan. Ambily, a Jayan fan from Trivandrum has made it his mission to see that this movie finally get released. My prayers are with him. Panchapandavar is the story of 5 friends portrayed by Jayan, Raghavan, Poojappura Ravi and two others who reach Bombay in search of a job. They come into contact with a beautiful nurse (played by Saumini) and the movie is about the hullabaloo followed by a pentagular love story.
The untimely death of Jayan also shelved some major projects. These include Ormakal Olangal, Nisheedhini (in which Jayan, Kamalhassan and Sukumaran were to join hands), Sreedevi Darshanam (Jayan and Ambika – a mythology story with Jayan in a non-macho role), Vazhikal Yatharakkar ( Jayan and Soman ) and Karnanan. A project announced with much fanfare – the first multi starrer in Malayalam which would have beaten the record created by Udyogastha was Devadasi, by Sasikumar. Prem Nazir, Madhu, Jayan, Soman, Sukumaran and Kamal Hassan were roped in to play the important roles. Adoor Padmakumar was supposed to be its producer. ‘പൊന്നലയിൽ അമ്മാനമാടി’ is a song from this unmade movie. Sasikumar’s another unreleased project was Theerathinu Ariyumo Thirayude Vedana – featuring Nazir and Jayan. An interesting trivia, some of us had the privilege to see part of this movie when it was shown as a movie within the movie Komaram. Mala Aravinadan appears in Komaram as a producer who had lost everything after investing in Kodunkattinu Shesham ! This was the last movie made by Sasikumar, in 1995 – but still has not been released.
Ponnalayil from Devdasi (1979) – unreleased
Joshi’s debut work was to be a movie called Aayiram Vasanthangal – starring Vincent. But that never happened. Sathayan Anthikkadu’s debut outing was to be a movie called Chamayam. Kamal Hassan and Nedumudi Venu were supposed to join hands. But days before the shooting was to start the producer Majeendran was shot dead by his erstwhile partner. The murder created ripples in the film circles and no one came to Sathyan’s rescue. And till date Sathyan Anthikkadu has not worked with Kamal Hassan. Likewise during the early 80’s, Sathyan Anthikkadu had planned another movie titled Chicagoyil Cheenthiya Raktham based on a story by Cochin Haneefa. All was set and the crew had reached America – save for the lead actor Nedumudi Venu. The project was scrapped and Nedumudi Venu recently confessed that it took Sathyan Anthikkadu about 20 years to get back in speaking terms with him. Another Anthikkad project which was dropped after the audio record was released is Abhimanyu.
Evidayo Oru Shatru ( based on a screenplay by M.T. Vasudevan Nair ) is yet another movie which still stays in the cans. Sukumaran and Venu Nagavally were the lead actors in this movie made in the late Seventies. The recent movie Ezhamathe Varavu starring Indrajith and Vineeth is virtually the same story of Evidayo Oru Shatru – adapted to the present day. Another project announced with Thilakan and Soman in the mid-80’s was Puzhayorathu Oru Poojari. The audio cassette was released – but the movie reached nowhere. N. Govindankutty – legendary screen villain and scriptwriter known for his vadakkan pattu movies had his career high when Padayottam reached the screen.
After that megahit – none of Govindankutty’s stories reached the screen. Some were dropped midway and some were announced and not started at all. Movies include Attummanammele Unniyaracha, Vadakkuninnoru Pennu, Kudamalam Kunki, Ayyappaswamiyum Vavarum, Kombanaana, Goorkha, Parayipetta Panthirukulam, Iniyethra Dooram and Bhoomi.