My private feeling/remembrances on seeing the photos:
I dont know writing in Tamil/Malayalam in computer. So, English.
The curious coming together of some people who had left some indelible mark during my teens/20s evoked mixed emotions in me (I am 33 now). Esp. you and Maniratnam.
Very first thought was – How old u guys have become. You were very smart looking gentlemen. First photo of you, I saw was in ‘The Hindu’ Sunday Supplement. A small para detailing the upcoming writer u are and if i remember rightly .. mentioning that u then worked in AIR Tiruchirapally. And Maniratnam’s first photo, tying a knot to Suhasini in Malayala Manorama. In both photos, i noticed how smart the men are.
Maniratnam invoked me into better cinema. Or rather, my dad. He told to me after watching a Mani movie ‘Ithaanu Directoru’ (Movie: Nayakan). I should be in 6-7 class then. I asked him ‘Director nna aaru ppa’ (I speak to him in Tamil and he speaks to me in Malayalam). I could not comprehend his definition of director and the question how a director can be rated over a producer puzzled me. But hired one Mani movie video casette – Agni Nakshatram. It was late night. I slept in the middle of the movie. It was time to return the VCP and casette next morning. I liked Nayakan and missed watching Agni Nakshatram, deeply.
This setting/images … VCP/VCR/Video Cassette/Their rental/ DD1/DD2/How young i was, that i could not watch a movie awake late night/Deadlines of VCR Rental/reiteration of ‘Director Maniratnam’s movies’ at VCP shop.. all flash when i think of Maniratnam (I had been on a summer holiday then at Chennai at my maternal grand parents place. Biggest joy was I could watch TV. At school, I used to tell my friends “Ivade tv illa..Madras lu chechida veettilu indu. Avade DD2 okke kittum”). I forgot to mention, I am from a village in Palakkad.
Maniratnam was like Sujatha for me. Sujatha invoked me into better Tamil reading. Being studied in Kerala, I got invoked in to better Malayalam reading formally..means… got to read parts of good malayalam novels as chapters in Malayalam text book. Specifically ‘Verukal’ of Malayatoor. The one chapter made me go to my village library and hunt for Malayatoor’s books. I didnt get Verukal, as it was on high demand and returned with his bio ‘Service Story’. I could not finish it. Again Dad intervened. He read that completely. And told how good the book was. I felt he has the knack of spotting the best. Followed up with all available Malayattoor works in our library, then Mukundan. Mallu reading for me thus took its course. This started during 8th std.
A staunch Tamilian I was then and during college, instigated by the remark ‘Pandi’, I heavily relied upon Maniratnam/Ilayaraja’s 80s songs to prove Tamilians had taste. Missing link was literature. Tamil spoken with diction during Pattimandram telecasted on Deepavali/Pongal days was the only saving grace to flaunt in front of Mallu friends (By now we have Sun TV at a friend’s place). Till I accidentally came across ‘Thanga Mudichu’ of Sujatha. The title did not interest me. I can take 3 books in one go from the library. 2 Mallu books for us (dad & me) and one Tamil for mom. Recommended by others, I used to take Lakshmi/Sivasankari etc. Sujatha sounded just another female writing ‘family’ stories. But a look at the first page, its fresh narration caught my attention. And he took me into the Tamil literary world. Now SuRa lined up with Maniratnam and Ilayaraja’s 80 songs (reiteration.. 80s… Ilayaraja under the influence of Venkatesh or… (i forgot his name), specified in your ‘Ninaivin Nadhiyil’).
Dad while teaching me Malayalam text book spotted ‘Rathri Mazha’ of Sugatha Kumari and read it over and over. He was bowled over by that. I do not have a taste for poems. Later, when I read actor Sreenivasan in ‘Vachaka mela’ in Malayala Manorama telling that he cant enjoy poems but for Ayyappan’s, I related to him. I too could enjoy only his.
Do i remember correctly????…Another of ‘Vachaka Mela’ had Punathil telling he left eating beef after reading you. You used to write in ‘Bhasha Poshini’, then? It was ur Mathrubhumi article “Kattil Vilanja Kani’ or some thing titled on the same lines, when i first read u, I was totally submerged by a beautiful feeling. I wanted to preserve that. But misplaced. And am still in hunt. (I have a mixed feeling to see Chaitanya/Nandan grown up too….)
As a prodigy spotted by SuRa, as a Malayalam/Tamil writer and me being a Tamil speaking from Kerala had a special liking for u.
May be it is for the same reason, I enjoyed Nanjil Nadan. I chanced upon ‘Sathuranga Kuthirai’ , by looking at its cover aesthetics. And since then for some years I used to tell my favourite writer as ‘Nanjil Nadan’ and favourite book ‘Sathuranga Kuthirai’. The KanyaKumari tamil with Malayalam influence was sounding like the Tamil we speak at our place. I went on to read all his works till then by making my library purchase them. I was terribly upset with Thangar bachan renaming the title and not making it against the Nanjil milieu and after seeing, for making the film altogether. Mean while, I also learnt about A. Madhavan, Thoppil Md. Meeran, Nakulan, Neela Padmanabhan..who write from and around Tvm in Tamil. Made to believe that best crop of Tamil writers are from Nanjil, and strongly felt that proximity to Kerala had something to do with that.
It all stopped, when i stepped out of my village around 20-22. We have been dreaming of getting a good job and ‘settled’, so we can buy all those books/music cassettes and see those movies. Now, I have bought few books. But havent read them. Bought some movies, but never saw them. Not only the old life, also nostalgic about the good reading I left behind. The only time I read seriously after job was Anand’s ‘Vettakaranum Virunnukaranum’. He refers ‘Last temptation of Christ’ in that and remembered that when u wrote about ‘LTC’ somewhere last year. But that book could take away that slightest ‘Hindu’ lingering somewhere in me. Due course, some where, I have stopped being ‘Tamilian’ too. I felt deeply hurt when Anand was referred to have BJP tilt recently by somebody. You too had an impact in furthering my objective outlook on the religion.
As said, it was a curious mix of people whom i liked. For the teenager in me, the dais would have been perfected by Anand.
The mixed emotion was, was Maniratnam warranted in that place? I felt he would have felt awkward. To have captured in so many photos. With people he might not know. To associate with an event he might not be so close. Does Jayamohan require Maniratnam, like Charu required Mysskin? Pardon me, you two are gentlemen. Thats why even when I tell I started but moved on from Sujatha/Maniratnam, it is only sincere to tell how keenly did I look forward to their writing/movies.
Convey my regards to Mani Sir. (While going thru Ninaivin Nadiyil, I have felt that had material for a great movie. If ‘The Social Network’ can be engrossing, possessiveness of a protege and the love of the mentor for his son can also make a engrossing drama. Tell that to Sir :-) . Also tell him that I too went around Chalai…)
Regards, take care…