GK Pillai | 58 active years as an Actor in Malayalam movies

GK Pillai in Agnimrugam (1971)
GK Pillai in Agnimrugam (1971)

58 active years as an Actor !

With the possible exceptions of the legendary TR Omana, who was already 6 movies old when GK Pillai debuted in Snehaseema ( 1954), and Santo Krishnan, there is no one who so aptly deserves the title of the living Patriarch of Malayalam films as this proud and defiant Army man-turned-actor from Chirayinkeezhu in Kerala. Then again, he is elder to her by almost 15 years ! It could be safely assumed that when G Kesava Pillai aka GK Pillai started his career in Malayalam film industry,   most of us were just whims in our parents’ imagination.

Continue reading GK Pillai | 58 active years as an Actor in Malayalam movies

GK Pillai | Across the years onscreen in Malayalam cinema

GK Pillai in Padayottam (1982)
GK Pillai in Padayottam (1982)

GK Pillai, in conversation with TN Gopakumar of Asianet ( which you can watch here ) talks about being a part of more than 300 movies in Malayalam cinemas till date, and of course a fair share of TV soaps as well. For someone with such prolific output  ( an average of 5 movies per year ), for me, his memorable ones came in the first two decades, after which, it was just “mindless cloning” of the ones that had already passed by.

Continue reading GK Pillai | Across the years onscreen in Malayalam cinema

Of Malayasian plantations, thatched cinemas and hating Sathyan

Traditional Cinema Interiors of KeralaThe silver screen had always fascinated me right from childhood. I have heard stories about my mother’s childhood in the late 40s, when my uncle took his sisters, my mother and her siblings, for a “devotional/mythological” movie which released in the first talkies in their neighborhood. It was a tribute to bamboo pylons, teak struts, thatched roof and smelly Rexine seat backs for the privileged. And not knowing what a cinema really was, they sat facing the projector thinking that that’s where the action is. My uncle was so embarrassed that he didn’t know where to look. 🙂

Continue reading Of Malayasian plantations, thatched cinemas and hating Sathyan

The Sathyan Tribute | Ravi from Mooladhanam (1969)

Sathyan and Sarada in Mooladhanam  (1969)

All the characters Sathyan played on screen were of strong men, all imbued with the special “Sathyan” touch which made them unforgettable. Most roles were, in my memory, tragic. However, one memorable character that he played, with the story ending on a positive note, was in Thoppil Bhasi‘s Mooladhanam (meaning Capital, as in Wealth). The story is based on Thoppil Bhasi’s own life experiences as a Communist Party worker during 1944-1946, of the sacrifices he had to make, in order for the mass struggle against the unjust rule of the Diwan be a success.

Continue reading The Sathyan Tribute | Ravi from Mooladhanam (1969)

The Sathyan Tribute | Pappu from Odayil Ninnu (1965)

Sathyan in Odayil Ninnu (1965)

It is no wonder that Babu, the 1971 Tamil film failed to do well despite having the Titan of Tamil cinema Sivaji Ganesan in the lead role. The film was a remake of the 1965 Malayalam film Odayil Ninnu, based on the novel of the same name by Keshava Dev. With all due respect to Nadigar Thilagam (I do have a very sweet spot in my heart for him) and at the cost of sounding sacrilegious to my brethren from across the border, I have to say this: the lead role in Malayalam was assayed by the incomparable Sathyan.

Continue reading The Sathyan Tribute | Pappu from Odayil Ninnu (1965)

The Sathyan Tribute | Chellappan from Anubhavangal Paalichakal (1971)

{ This part -personal, part incisive perspective on Anubhavangal Palichakal is by a dear friend who goes by the name of BlueGreenSalad :). Seriously.}
Anubhavangal Paalichakal Title (1971) I first saw this movie in my childhood, off a VHS cassette bought by Father during the early 80s, along with Yavanika, Muthassi, Vilaykyu Vangiya Veena, Kuttiydathey, Neelakuyil, Vivaahitha, Thulabhaaram, Elippathayam and a few other movies sold by V G Paneerdas in Bombay. My Dad and Mom were fans of actor Sathyan, having known him while residing in Madras during the mid-to-late 60s. Under their influence, I too, grew up to admire this actor and his quality and dedication to the art. When I saw this movie, I was struck by the reality it attempted to depict: gone were the tinsel sets, caked makeup, fancy costumes, bouffant hairdos, and even more fantastic stories. Here was a different story- something I grew to like.

Continue reading The Sathyan Tribute | Chellappan from Anubhavangal Paalichakal (1971)

Sarvakalashala (1987 ) | In the Mood for Melancholy

[ This is a guest post by Prakash Rajan, from Bangalore India, now residing in New Jersey, USA. Prakash is an inveterate cinephile and an 80’s -era Malayalam films junkie.”I love Sathyan Anthikad, Satajit Ray and Stanley Kubrick“, says Prakash. Touch base with Prakash here.]
Sarvakalashala (1987) -Title Card

‘Sarvakalshala’ is quintessential Venu Nagavalli. Why? This is because, like the man himself, the film is philosophical and brooding. There is a pervading sense of melancholy in the movie, just like our man who is known for his pensive image. However, there is more to Venu Nagavalli than what meets the eye.

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Oduvil : A Documentary feature by Sreedevi P Aravind

Oduvil -The Documentary by Sreedevi P Aravind
Pix Credit & Rights : Sreedevi P Aravind

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.

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Padayottam (1982) | A Sketch in Vengeful Grey

Padayottam - Film Title

Padayottam, (Military Advance / Military Assault ), unlike its Anglicized pasty synonym, carries with it a churning, lethal, powerful force of dynamism, more like a virtual, deadly juggernaut promising fury, death and destruction. N Govindankutty, in his inspired screenplay from DumasThe Count of Monte Cristo, ingeniously packs it all under the weary, steely visage of a lone being, back from the dead.Its a one-man revenge-machine, and unlike its parent story, the stakes are higher, much higher. Also, the primary emotions are vengeance and justice. Hope, mercy and forgiveness which seemed to have been buried along with the ‘former life’ of Udayan Thamburan ( Prem Nazir) thankfully appears for a crucial moment and disappears forever. Even if you take the list of the costume dramas aka screen adaptations from the Vadakkan Pattukal that came out of Navodaya  ( and Udaya for that matter), this walked the fine line between the clunky, kitschy opulence and a unique story line that actually engaged you.

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

K Ramachandra Babu  | Cinematographer

[ In the course of putting together whatever information I could on the movie, I  had always felt nothing could ever come close to capturing the spirit of the production than from the stalwarts who were at the helm, who actually made it possible. Legendary DOC K Ramachandra Babu, who was the DOC of Padayottam, was gracious enough to respond to the short note I had send him on his recollection from the production times of Padayottam (1982). Thank you Sir. ]

This is how it went.

With Padayottam, it was your first project with Navodaya Studios, which, in my opinion was a reflection of your own wild, daring spirit in pushing the frontiers of film-making in Malayalam film industry. How did you become a part of the project?

Continue reading Padayottam | In conversation with Cinematographer K.Ramachandra Babu, ISC