The block buster movie Spadikam starring super star Mohanlal in the lead role enjoys a special place in the hearts of the Malayali movie lovers. Many punchy dialogues and one - liners from this movie had since gained a cult status. “Spadikam is not a movie about Aadu Thoma (Mohanlal), the son. Instead, it is the story of a father (Thilakan) whose arrogance and adamant nature had destroyed the son’s life. It narrates the tale of his realizations and final transformation,” said film maker Bhadran about the movie that hit the screens in 1995.
Who is Chacko maash?
Bhadran says that the character Chacko played brilliantly by late actor Thilakan was based on four real life persons whom he knew personally. One of them is the film maker’s own father who used to mock him by comparing him with other kids. Bhadran’s father had arranged music tuitions for him, at home, as he was poor in his studies. Popular musician radio Krishnayyar was invited to stay at their home to give special music classes for Bhadran. However, the musician left, with Bhadran’s harmonium, just after he finished teaching varnam.
Bhadran’s teacher, Alakkapily Thomas, who had slapped him across the face when he told that he came 10 minutes late to the class as he was watching a kingfisher in an old well, is another person who inspired the character. The veteran film maker says that though the marks of his teacher’s fingers have long gone from his cheeks, he still recalls the sound of the hard slap. Pillai sir, who was very strict with his students and Bhoothalingam sir, who came to the class after having a drink of alcohol are the others who influenced Bhadran to base Chacko master’s character on.
Tiff with Thilakan
Bhadran had already imagined Thilakan to play the role of Chacko master in Spadikam. However he didn’t offer the well written role to the Thespian, initially, as both of them hadn’t been on talking terms for years. Bhadran and Thilakan had a tiff during the dubbing of the movie ‘Idanaazhiyil Oru Kaalocha’. In the movie, Thilakan had to mouth the dialogue, ‘There is no music without melody’. However, the actor pronounced the word ‘melody’ as ‘meludy’. “When I corrected him, Thilakan retorted that he was a graduate. But then I snapped back that I was just a class ten pass and still knew the right pronunciation,” said Bhadran. The film maker revealed he really is a class ten pass and didn’t tell it as a punch dialogue to irritate Thilakan.
Things soon got out of hand and it even escalated almost to the verge of hitting each other. Thilakan was abruptly dropped from the movie when one and a half days of filming remained. His remaining portions were shot by featuring a walking stick in the hands of another person. Bhadran completed the script of Spadikam four or five years after this incident. Even though he wanted Thilakan to play the role of Chacko master, the director had no idea how to patch up with the actor. It was the movie Idanaazhiyil Oru Kaalocha which came to his rescue this time.
When this movie was telecasted on the television, Thilakan happened to watch it and immediately realized that he indeed had pronounced the word ‘melody’ wrongly. He called Bhadran and said, “This is Thilakan”. The director replied, “There isn’t anyone who can’t recognize your voice, right?” The duo patched up and Bhadran reached Ramanilayam at Thrissur to narrate the story of Spadikam to the actor. Bhadran recall that Thilakan had got excited about his role exclaiming that only he can do the character with perfection. “A few crew members had considered Nedumudi Venu for the role. Thilakan didn’t even require much make up to physically transform to Chacko master. He even had the curly eyebrows that Chacko had to feature,” noted Bhadran.
Bhadran explains that the character Aadu Thoma just had the significance, in the narrative, to be the prompter for Chacko master to realize his vanity. The director, who also wrote the film, had based Thoma’s character on three real life ruffians who lived around Pala. He recalls one of them as extremely brave who was known as ‘Irattachangan’. Another’s signature move was to remove his mundu (dhoti) and hit his opponent by covering that person’s face with his dhoti. The third one was downed when he was at his peak. “If the character demanded just alpha male characteristics, I could have casted Mammootty or Suresh Gopi. But the character has innocence and also self pity. I could spot these in Mohanlal’s eyes,” said the film maker.
Actress Shobana was the first choice for the female lead in the movie. However, Shobana refused the offer as she had to fly to the United States for a dance program that was already planned. Urvashi was then roped in to play the character named Thulasi. After watching the movie, Bhadran thought that the decision to cast Urvashi was spot on. The actress had incredibly performed in the movie, especially in the scenes where she is shown as drunk.
As the filming was progressing, Bhadran received a phone call from actor Nassar who told that he wouldn’t reach for the filming as the shooting for his Tamil movie wasn’t over. The actor informed that it would take at least 10 more days for him to reach the sets of Spadikam. Bhadran was shocked and had no idea what to do. As he was standing worried in the car parking area of the Anjali Hotel in Kottayam, he noticed a youngster who came in riding a bullet. He was taller and heavier than Nassar. Bahdran went to him and asked, “Do you want to act?” That is how actor George became a part of the iconic movie and hence be known as Spadikam George.
J Williams was hired as the cameraman for the movie. However, he was fired after he picked up fights with everyone. Williams was replaced by S Kumar. However, as the shooting was in its last leg, Bhadran felt that Williams should be brought back as he had begun the movie with the senior cinematographer. Williams was invited to wield the camera for the last 4 days of filming. “He began crying when he saw me. He said, ‘You are the only one who called me back. Everyone else see me as a quarrelsome person.’ I was disturbed seeing an old man cry like that. I dedicate Spadikam to Williams because it is he who taught me the valuable lesson that one would reach heights only if they remain humble and display humility,” noted Bhadran.
Producer Goodnight Mohan wanted to name the film, which has ample action sequences in it, as Aadu Thoma, to lure the audience to the theaters. However, Bhadran rejected the idea saying that the movie was not about Aadu Thoma, neither was it an action thriller. The film maker firmly said that the movie was about parenting and that the title Spadikam suited the narrative well.
Bhadran recalled that musician SP Venkatesh had appeared in front of him, with folded hands, as the former was leaving from film maker Hariharan’s house. The young musician told that he had been chasing the director’s car from Kodambakkam Bridge onwards. He requested Bhadran to give him a chance to compose music for his movie. “He is someone who does background scores amazingly. Besides, I could see honesty in his eyes. However, I told him, ‘I would say ‘yes’ if I like your songs. But if I call you after a few days and ask you change everything, would you do that?’ He replied, ‘Sir, I will stay at your house; just give me one meal a day’. There was honesty in his compositions as well. ‘Ezhimala Poonchola’ became a super hit in Kerala. SP Venkatesh composed the music for Spadikam without accepting any remuneration,” revealed Bhadran.
S P Venkatesh denies Bhadran’s statement
Meanwhile, in contrary, noted music director S P Venkatesh has refuted the statements made by Bhadran, director of Spadikam, to the effect that he had approached Bhadran for a chance to render music to the songs in the film.
Bhadran had claimed that Venkatesh approached him while he was leaving director Hariharan’s house asking to give him a chance.
In response to the interview, Venkatesh denied having met anybody ever with such a demand. “Bhadran’s statement hurt me. Nobody who knows me will believe it,” said the music director.