MG Soman had always been that, right from his very first movie Gayatri (1973), written by Malayattoor Ramakrishnan for PN Menon. His irreverence remained only for the characters that he brought alive onscreen, in real life he displayed those exceptional qualities that one would come to expect of an officer of the Indian Airforce – self-confident, assertive yet with a surprising sense of empathy and a taste for simple living. Born 28th October, 1941, the only son of Mannadiparambil Govinda Panicker and Bhavani Amma from Thiruvalla, Soman always had a liking for theatre even from his college days. I remember reading about him writing and staging a play called Mantharikal Garjjikkunnu even before he left to join the Indian Airforce right after his pre-University studies. He was hugely popular in the services for his brilliant one act plays and short skits, in close to a decade he served in the Services, a story that has delightful parallels with the service days of another of our popular onscreen thespians, GK Pillai. Having left Air Force in 1970, back home, he actively plunged into the vibrant theatre culture of the times, associating with amateur and professional productions,chief amongst the former being the Kollam Amateur group, giving his best to every single role that came his way.
A week down the line, I realize it is difficult to get out of the vice-grip that a literary work by Padmarajan has on your soul. It was on a whim that I dusted off the old, dog-eared collection ( from my school days) of the Celestial Storyteller, and dived straight in, starting with Nakshathrangale Kaaval (1978). It might have been a coincidence that the recent news report about his son, Ananthapadmanabhan starting off on preliminary scripting in remaking the 1978 film version of this fantastic story of three souls bound together in deep friendship, love, immorality, lust and celestial love.
I remember watching the movie in one of the late-night sessions of Doordarshan Kerala, thanks to probably a very bored program executive trying to bring some life into the otherwise staid proceedings of DD’s program chart. But try as I might, now, I just cannot recollect the main protagonists of the movie, I know there was MG Soman as Prabhu and Adoor Bhasi as Varmaji (Uncle). Recently I got hold of an old movie-still from the film which had MG Soman and Jaya Bharathi which brings me to the next question