I.V. Sasi's movies were part of growing up in the 1970s and 80s. The minute the director's name was projected on to the screen in characteristically yellow letters, the crowd went mad. Yes, Sasi was the original superstar. His pace was incredible. He made 10 to 15 movies a year and made a hit of it all.
Malayalam cinema was at Sasi's beck and call. There would be a long line of cars from different production houses waiting in front of the director's house every morning. Sasi chose which movie to work on in the morning. He would get into the car of his choice and go to the set. He would brief the assistant directors and artistes before rushing to the next set.
All leading actors waited for Sasi. Madhu, Jayan, Soman, Sukumaran, Vincent, Jose, Raviumar and even Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth worked in his pace without a grunt. Sasi gave Mammootty his break. Mohanlal too was elevated to a hero in one of his movies.
Every time the social media describes a new-gen movie as 'mass', old-timers can't help thinking about the real mass hits of yesteryear, be it Ee Nadu, Iniyenkilum, Meen, Angadi, Vartha, Adimakal Udamakal, Abkari or Nalkavala.
Sasi's Devasuram launched a wave of feudal superheroes portrayed by Mohanlal in the 1990s. The master craftsman was known for his quick work.
An anecdote shared by the late T.A. Shahid throws light on Sasi's reputation as a reliable director. The scriptwriter was collaborating with director Anil Menon on a Kalabhavan Mani starrer. Mani had just completed a movie with Sasi, who wanted the actor to spare some time to shoot a couple of more scenes. The junior director could not but oblige Sasi.
The break in the schedule could result in the loss of a day, draining money for the producer who was already in a crunch. The crew was tense while they waited for Sasi to arrive.
The director reached the set with a cameraman, makeup man and two other associates. The small crew completed the work in 10 minutes, returning Mani to Shahid and team.
Sasi may have committed less promising movies in the later part of his career but his legacy as a superstar director is undeniable.