Noted film maker A Vincent and producer Shobana Parameswaran Nair had decided to make the movie Bhargavi Nilayam, with a screenplay written by the celebrated writer MT Vasudevan Nair. It was they who told screen writer John Paul, the interesting story of how they found their leading lady who portrayed the title role of Bhargavikutty. “It was then that I had heard about Vijaya Nirmala for the first time,” recalls John Paul.
The pre production works of Bhargavi Nilayam produced by Chandrathara was progressing in Chennai. Vincent, Shobana Paramewaran Nair and RS Prabhu, the manager at Chandrathara had reached the house of a friend, who was a ship modeling instructor in the military. However, the officer wasn’t home and the trio decided to wait outside his house. It was then that the officer’s wife, along with her child, had crossed the road in front the house and came running to them. Her dreamy eyes with long lashes and the way in which she came running to them had charmed director Vincent who was still in the quest for finding his Bhargavikutty. He declared that the officer’s wife would play the lead role in Bhagavi Nilayam if she agrees to it. So, the three friends who had gone to meet the officer returned, determined that the latter’s wife would be their heroine. The woman who caught the attention of the trio was none other than actress Vijaya Nirmala who enchanted the Malayali audience with her amazing performance in Bhargavi Nilayam.
The makers had even convinced renowned writer Vaikom Muhammed Basheer who had agreed to write the screen play based on his short story Neela Velicham. That is how Vijaya Nirmala, quite unexpectedly, became the heroine in one of the cult classic movies of Malayalam. Vijaya Nirmala holds the record for a woman director with most number of movies to her credit. She is also the first woman director in the Malayalam film industry. But the greatest contribution made by Vijaya Nirmala to the Malayalam cinema was discovering film maker IV Sasi.
“I have been friends with IV Sasi even before he became a director. He began his stint in the movies as an art director. At that time, I heard about a movie which would be directed by Vijaya Nirmala and bankrolled by IV Sasi. It was only when I ringed up Sasi that I came to know the truth. Though Sasi’s name was given as the producer, the money was actually spent by Vijaya Nirmala, who had by then rose to fame in the South Indian movie industry. However, most of the directorial jobs were done by Sasi with Vijaya Nirmala overseeing everything,” reveals John Paul. It was yesteryear actress Ambika who introduced art director Sasi to the veteran actress. Vijaya Nirmala had discovered the director in Sasi, who had come to her house to do some art works. “She spent money to make a movie and allowed Sasi to grow as an independent director, using her fame. It was indeed an amazing act of generosity,” notes John Paul.
The last frame
John Paul recalls meeting Vijaya Nirmala while staying at the hotel owned by the actress in Chennai. He was accompanied by director IV Sasi too. As the duo got out of the lift and headed towards their car outside, they saw Vijaya Nimala getting out of her car in front of the hotel. “She was thrilled to meet Sasi after so long and embraced him with excitement. Sasi introduced me to her. We spoke for a while and parted ways. As Sasi took the car forward I looked outside and saw Vijaya Nirmala running the stairs into the hotel. It reminded me of the energetic and graceful Bhargavikutty. That was the first and the last frame of Vijaya Niramala which got fixed in my mind. Vijaya Nirmala bids adieu, creating unique marks in the cinema industry,” concludes John Paul.