May 27th 2012 marked Oduvil Unnikishnan’s 6th year of passing. Rather than resorting to the usual ‘memorial platitudes’ quoting the obvious movies, directors and roles, I figured it would be more interesting to sit down and put down in words my sincere appreciation for a young film student’s efforts in keeping the memories of Oduvil, as we know him, alive. Sreedevi P Aravind put all her creative resources, passion and ardent love for cinema to put together a documentary feature on Oduvil, by the same name, and was kind enough to send across a copy to me.
A trip through Mazhavilkaavadi , Sandesham  and the ones in between.
There is an interesting observation by Director Kamal in the video that discusses the phenomenon called Oduvil Unnikrishnan. He says that there seems to be no one who could bring those characters to life who were crucial to the narratives they often put together. Conversely, by virtue of their absence, the characters are surgically removed from the plot and substituted with those of a different sensibility and nature. I think it is obvious. Forget the change in social dynamics that would eventually reflect in the movies’ plotlines, but would we be again seeing a Vedikkaaran Kunjappu in a Malayalam Movie of the future, or for that matter a benevolent patriarch and a maternal uncle, brought to life in a million different forms by Shankaradi?
Videos profiling Oduvil Unnikrishnan.
I have tried to collate together programs that speaks/ profiles Oduvil Unnikrishnan the Actor, that are available online as of now. I will try and keeping them as I keep finding them online, but, for the moment, these are the ones I could lay my hands on. The best among them has to be the talk -show on Asianet Cable Vision ( surprisingly, they have some amazing line-ups across various episodes). It is strange and saddening that there is a conspicuous absence of Sathyan Anthikkad’s fond reminisces captured on video. I can wait.
A Journey through Rustic Goodness in Malayalam Cinema.
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that it was Sathyan Anthikkad‘s movies that played a major part in shaping up the composite memory of the Oduvil we all have in our hearts. And that memory, across all age-groups, am sure, its surprisingly more or less the same. In fact, a journey through the varied ‘faces’ that Oduvil portrayed on screen, at times with more than one in a movie, is also a journey through the rural heart of Kerala, an environment that is scarily being reconstituted to resemble the glass-and-chrome monstrosities of its urban peers. Also Sathyan Anthikkad’s movies would bring together a delightful set of regulars in his movies that usually spoke of the ‘hearts and heart-breaks in hamlets’ – characters that came alive through Paravoor Bharathan, Shankarady, KPAC Lalitha, Philomena, Sukumari, Maamukkoya, Innocent, Jagathy – with a rock-solid script from Sreenivasan who most of the times joined the fun. The stories most often spoke of current issues with dark sarcasm and pure humor, through this set of actors who essayed characters who were no different from the ones we knew from our neighborhood. Oduvil took to this fraternity like fish to water!
Oduvil Unnikrishnan got some of the best roles in his career from the 20-odd years of a deep and wonderful friendship he had with Sathyan Anthikkad. From Appunni in 1984 till his last movie, Rasathanthram in 2006, the Sathyan-Srinivasan team led us through a gamut of characters brought to life by Oduvil, pulsing with the innate goodness of the simple life and simple living. I have tried to collate all the movies of Sathyan Anthikkad that Oduvil appeared in, but I do not claim this list to be definite .
13 February 1944 – 27 May 2006 | Last Friday marked 5 years since Oduvil Unnikrishnan passed away and the mainstream media, save one, who usually celebrates memorials with a vengeance seems to have blissfully chosen to forget him. After all, he didn’t leave behind a legacy of Fan Associations, Real Estate endorsements, jewelry deals or for that matter crores-worth Post-production facilities. All he celebrated, lived for and left behind was an unabashed celebration of the simple life, simple values that always seemed to reach out and touch the innate goodness in all of us, way deep inside. Now, THAT, is something that is of no use to the mainstream media, and I guess, hence the silence.
If you have a set of raised eyebrows and your eyes have finished one glorious back flip before you even began reading this, think about yours truly who sat through the movie, just because my curiosity got the better of me. The dictionary describes whimpering as ” crying with low, plaintive, broken sounds”. Which is exactly what I did for the 20 minutes by brain allowed me to take in the drama (?).
Now that I have put the griping behind me, here is it upfront. It seems to be the debut feature of Director Ajoy, of remaking Sathyan Anthikkad‘s classic Ponumattiyudanna Tharavu (1988), and ended up throwing the classic under the bus. And it came out, dipped in red.
Was watching Kesavdev’s film adaptation of his popular work, Odayil Ninnu(1965), and thought I need to share this with you, the very young Suresh Gopi’s debut in Malayalam Cinema, as the feudal landlord’s son, a character who also becomes the root cause for which the young Pappu ( Sathyan), played by Master Dasarathan, runs away from home to the big, bad town of Kollam!