Tuesday, 30 June 2009

A.K.Lohitadas - A Tribute

A.K. Lohitadas, a highly respected scriptwriter and director of the Malayalam film industry, passed away last Sunday.

I do not know what it is about the Malayalam film industry that it has lost four of its finest directors within the last two decades at relatively young ages when they were still at the height of their creative powers. G. Aravindan and P. Padmarajan both died in 1991, aged 56 and 46, respectively. Bharathan, when he passed away in 1998, was 51. And now, Lohitadas at 54.

Lohitadas, or Lohi as he was popularly known, came into cinema from theatre as a scriptwriter. “Thaniavarthanam” was a critical and commercial success and Lohi won the Kerala State Award in 1987 for Best Screenplay. The director of that movie was Sibi Malayil; Lohi was to partner with him for the next decade or so to give Malayalam cinema some very memorable movies like Kireedom, Chenkol, Bharatam, Kamaladalam, and His Highness Abdullah.

In 1997, Lohi came out with his maiden directorial venture. Bhootakkannadi, a dark, brooding tale of one man’s descent into a personal hell of his own making, did not exactly set the box-office on fire but was acclaimed by film critics and movie aficionados alike. Many memorable movies followed –Kaarunyam, Kanmadam, Kastooriman, and Arayannagalude Veedu, to name a few.

What I like most about Lohi’s work is that he refused to bow down to the dictates of crass commercialism and spun simple stories of love and grief, sorrow and separation, hope and despair, that touched a chord somewhere in the average movie-goer. The protagonists were always people whom you could relate to and identify with; the very ordinariness of their lives acquired a rare poignancy at the hands of this talented film maker. No wonder that most of his movies did well at the box-office as well.

It is also interesting to analyse how women characters were portrayed in Lohi’s films. Lohi’s women were never mere embellishments to an otherwise male-dominated script like most Malayalam movies of today. Lohi’s women were complex creatures, hardened by adversity, defiant against injustice, and yet possessing an inner core that was both vulnerable and morally incorruptible. It is no coincidence that talented actresses like Manju Warrier (Kanmadam) and Meera Jasmine (Kastooriman) reserved some of their best performances for Lohi’s films.

Fate played an important role in the lives of the characters created by Lohi. In an interview given few years ago to writer and journalist Shobha Warrier, Lohi remarked: “...that is my attitude to fate. Life does not proceed the way we want it to. It has a course of its own and it will move only in that direction.” Did fate play a role in his end as well? Was it fate that made him ignore the doctor’s advice six months ago to go in for an immediate coronary by-pass surgery?

Lohi and his films will be missed.


Mom Gone Mad said...

Lovely tribute to an amazing director! He will be sorely missed. Man, I can still remember moments in both Kireedom and Bharatham that gave me goosebumps all over.

ravi said...

Great movies, all,,,,,,,so many deaths in the last few days,,sad

Maddy said...

he made beautiful movies...and we will remember him by those...

Rada said...

@ MGM:- Indeed! My only complaint was AKL 's movies were always so steeped in misery & pathos,it was difficult to revisit them a second time!

@ Ravi: Feels god to have you back, Ravi!

@ Maddy: Absolutely. Pity he had to leave the party so early...

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Stepping Sideways... by K. Radhakrishnan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.