Jayaram and Rajasenan were one of the most celebrated actor-director pairs of Malayalam cinema in the 90s. From 'Dilliwala Rajakumaran' to 'Meleparambil Aanveedu', the duo have made a mark in their own ways. Rajasenan claimed the 1993 movie 'Meleparambil Aanveedu' became a turning point in his career and Jayaram's too. Rajasenan talks to Onmanorama about the making of his movies and his association with Jayaram.
“Out of my 37 movies that I had made, about 16 of them had Jayaram in the lead roles. Among them 14 of them were superhit and only two were average grossers. I made movies with Jayaram when he was in a bad state. I had barely made a place in the industry and he was barely a star. It was through movies like 'Kottaram Veettile Apputtan' and 'Meleparambil Aanveedu' that viewers got to see his talent. He became the perfect family hero for audiences. In fact he could balance the familial emotions and comedy quite well,” he said.
Planning is everything
Comics and family bonding have been the major theme in almost all Rajasenan movies. When Raghunath Paleri gave the script 'Meleparambil..', Rajasenan stated that he wanted every aspect of the movie evolve through proper planning.
Casting was a major decision he had made for the movie. “All the brothers played by Jayaram, Jagathy Sreekumar and Vijayaraghavan had a special role in the movie. Their characters were good-hearted ones who were found helpless in certain situations. Jayaram and Jagathy Sreekumar were known for their comic roles but the third brother needed someone who is a bit mischievous. Vijayraghavan was doing serious roles back then. So I wanted to see if he could pull of light characters,” Rajasenan said.
“Innocent was supposed to play the role of Kannappan. But then he had some date issues and we had to choose someone else. Thus came Janardhanan on board to do that role. Similarly, during that time actor Narendra Prasad was famous for doing negative characters and in this movie he had a humorous role. He asked me then how dare I cast him in such a role and how could I take such a risk making him an adamant yet playful father,” said Rajasenan.
“I used to brief my scripts through telephone and this one ( 'Meleparambil...) too Jayaram had agreed to in that way. Before winding up each movie, he would ask if the story for next movie is ready,” he recalled.
Evergreen dialogues and mannerisms
'Meleparambil Aanveedu' is probably known for its hit dialogues. “Ente garbam inganalla," “Vanne adhyadivasam alle, leave edukarunille," “Ithreyum manushyasneham ulle mone njan kanditilla," all these are probably used today in every Malayalis daily life. Ask him about it, and Rajasenan credits everything to writer Raghunath Paleri.
“Paleri had a great skill to find fun even in everyday affairs. I don't think a movie's success lies in bringing in big budget and big names. For me, giving a slice of real life makes the movie a piece of art,” he said.
Rajasenan cited a specific scene in 'Meleparambil Aanveedu' where actor Jagathy Sreekumar tries to wear a pant. “When we were shooting for the scene, trust me we had to take it so many times. As a director, I was standing in Jagathy's point of view. Each time he tries to put on this pant, I was laughing and I couldn't even ask for a cut. Then, he asked me to stay away so that he could finish his part. I had briefed what was there in the script but he added his own inputs and that's how the scene became a natural one," said Rajasenan.
However, Rajasenan also points that such a cinematic style had vanished for sometime and is coming back. “The trend and the audience are changing every now and then. The story selection is changing, the story telling is changing and now the making style is changing. Now, movies work only through word of mouth," he said.
Further he added, “I never wanted to make compromises in making my movies. For me, an actor can definitely involve but shouldn't interfere. Then it might put things in a bad light.”
The ties between Rajasenan and Jayaram were reportedly frigid for some years. Before winding up, we ask if the issues have been solved and he concludes, “That you should ask him.”
Release: November 1993
Lyrics: Girish Puthenchery
Screenplay: Raghunath Paleri
Starring: Jayaram, Shobana, Jagathy Sreekumar, Narendra Prasad, Meena, Janardhanan, Vinu Chakravarthy, Vijayaraghavan