[ Remitha brings up the lighter side of the Oh-So-Serious-70 MM Movie making and the grandeur of 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.
Sri Ramachandra Babu, ISC – the Cinematographer of Padayottam was kind enough to share relevant information on the movie viz, scanned images of the movie Songbook (Pattupusthakam) that breaks down the phenomenon of 35mm, Cinemascope and 70mm to the viewer who is about to embark on this Big Screen experience for the first time. I think it was a first-of-its-kind initiative to bring the viewer up to speed in terms of the technical wizardry that he/she was just about to witness, subtly pushing up the USP of the film as a product.
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 Dumas‘ The 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.
[ 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?