When VS pitted actor Murali against Sudheeran

VS Achuthanandan, Murali

It is election time again and political parties have commenced discussions on probable candidates and the seats they would like to contest. The names of actors are being tossed about as likely candidates. A movie personality, Murali, was in the fray in the 1999 Lok Sabha elections from the Alappuzha seat and it has come to light the veteran CPM leader VS Achuthanandan had suggested his name to unseat the incumbent Congress MP VM Sudheeran.

Sudheeran was indomitable till then as he had won the previous two polls from the same constituency.

As candidates were about to be picked, Achuthanandan, then, one day called comrade TK Devakumar and told, “Actor Murali should contest in Alappuzha. Ask for his opinion.”

Devakumar entrusted the task to scriptwriter Cherian Kalpakavaadi who is a close friend of Murali. Right on the next day, Cherian along with actors Venu Naagavalli and P Sreekumar set out to meet Murali.

Murali raised his concerns: one for not hailing from Alappuzha and secondly standing against Sudheeran. Finally, under the persuasion of Cherian and others he decided to take the plunge and was all set to accept the presumed failure as a mark of respect for the party. He met Achuthanandan and confirmed his candidature.

The movie ‘Rakthasakshikal Sindabad’ had released by then. In the movie ‘Lal Salam’ released just before, Murali played the character of TK Antony, a portrayal of comrade TV Thomas. With these movies people assumed Murali was a resident of Alappuzha. He instructed Cherian, Naagavalli and Sreekumar to be with him throughout the campaign. He stayed in Cherian’s home till the poll results were declared.

Cherian also recollected their meeting with veteran communist leader Gowri Amma who was expelled by the CPM earlier.

“Take Murali to meet Gowri Amma” VS said one day. Veteran communist leader Gowri Amma was with the rival political front UDF then. As she saw them she instantly asked whether Murali is contesting on the persuasion of Cherian. She also predicted there itself: “You will lose for sure”.

Gowri Amma’s hosted them warmly, Cherian recollected. After food she took them to the bedroom in which the photos of her wedding with TV Thomas were stuck on the walls.

People thronged places where Murali went to address. But the result was disappointing -- Sudheeran won with a majority of 35,094 votes. The failure did not affect Murali much as he had a friendly bond with Sudheeran. Though he failed, CPM henceforth extended their support for Murali. He was made the chairman of Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Academy, the next time LDF gained power. He was also made the Director of the CPI(M)-promoted television company Malayalam Communications which runs a few Malayalam TV channels.

Murali died in Thiruvananthapuram on August 6, 2009 at the age of 55 due to acute diabetes which led to a heart attack.