Online edition of India's National Newspaper
Saturday, Dec 19, 2009
Google



Metro Plus Mangalore
Published on Saturdays

Features: Magazine | Literary Review | Life | Metro Plus | Open Page | Education Plus | Book Review | Business | SciTech | NXg | Friday Review | Cinema Plus | Young World | Property Plus | Quest |

Metro Plus    Bangalore    Chennai    Coimbatore    Delhi    Hyderabad    Kochi    Madurai    Mangalore    Tiruchirapalli    Thiruvananthapuram    Vijayawada    Visakhapatnam   

Printer Friendly Page Send this Article to a Friend

Scripts, books and more

Noted writer-scenarist John Paul takes one on a nostalgic trip through the Malayalam tinsel world


What sets John Paul apart from many of his tribe is the ability to call a spade a spade in decent language, be it cinema or a book. What would one choose to call him? A scriptwriter or a writer? Both hats suit him well. In the eighties, most good Malayalam cinema had one thing common: John Paul. Be it P.N. Menon, Bharathan, I. V. Sasi, Mohan, Balu Mahendra, K. S. Sethumadhavan, Fazil, Kamal, they all made movies with John Paul's story or script. Films like “Marmaram”, “Kathayariyathe”, this love affair with words, which started in the late seventies, continues in different avatars today.

“One must change one's attitude to cinema with the times. Reading the pulse of the audience is important,” says John, whose latest book on Bharat Gopi (‘Adayala Nakshatramayi Gopi', published by Green Books) was released last week. He did not have to do much research for this book, for his association with Gopi went back to “Palangal” days. “We would sit on the banks of the Bharathapuzha and talk about various subjects till the wee hours of the morn. There was a certain chemistry between us which lasted till the end. There was really no need for me to do much. This book was already within me, it just needed to be documented. His attitude to any role was so intense, taxing, that it would take a toll on his health. He always said ‘Every character is the first and last for me'.”

While doing the role of the tabala player, Ayyappan in “Yavanika”, he told K. G. George that he did not know how to play the mridangam. “George told him, ‘but Ayyappan does'. And that was it. While shooting, he played as if in a trance, getting into the skin of Ayyappan's role, it was a sort of super reality,” remembers John.

John's earlier books on cinema and people he was close with like Bharathan, was honest and appreciated precisely for that, for not sensationalising the truth. That is not to say John has distanced himself from what he is best known for, scripting. His next movie, ‘Swapnangalil Hazel Mary' is directed by George Kithu.

Passion for cinema

Though John's philosophy of life is very different from the present crop of filmwallahs, he has learnt to be take life as it comes. “For our generation, money was not the only aim. Cinema was a passion, it still is and we thrived on learning more and more about cinema, discussing cinema and making them as best as we could. We all helped one another. When Mohan's grandmother passed away, it was K. G. George who directed some scenes for the movie “Vida Parayum Mumbe”. That was the kind of relationship we shared.” Team spirit was also very strong in those days, he reminisced. Aravindan was someone who was unparalled in creativity, John says.

The film society movement initiated John into tinsel world. Else how would the Economics post graduate who worked in a bank be in cinema today? The passion for cinema brought him close to many in the field. Once I. V. Sasi asked him to recraft the script of “Njan Njan Mathram”.

And that was thespian Thoppil Bhasi's script. He was shocked. But he did it without changing anything. “I just rejigged it with 27 flashbacks and that was my first brush with scripts. Mankada Ravi Varma helped me a lot when I worked with him in my early days, in documentaries.”

Is a good script the ticket to a successful film? “No,” says the veteran scriptwriter. “No good script can be made into a good movie, unless it is directed well. Likewise, the very best direction cannot make a bad script into a good movie. I didn't say that, Kurosowa said it.”

There is a lot to be documented in the Malayalam film world, which will be lost if not done soon, John feels. He is busy teaching about cinema at various institutions and says he is surprised at how much he enjoys teaching. At the back of his mind is a play, an academic play. On Thespis, who is credited with putting up the first play.

PREMA MANMADHAN

Printer friendly page  
Send this article to Friends by E-Mail



Metro Plus    Bangalore    Chennai    Coimbatore    Delhi    Hyderabad    Kochi    Madurai    Mangalore    Tiruchirapalli    Thiruvananthapuram    Vijayawada    Visakhapatnam   

Features: Magazine | Literary Review | Life | Metro Plus | Open Page | Education Plus | Book Review | Business | SciTech | NXg | Friday Review | Cinema Plus | Young World | Property Plus | Quest |


The Hindu Group: Home | About Us | Copyright | Archives | Contacts | Subscription
Group Sites: The Hindu | Business Line | Sportstar | Frontline | Publications | eBooks | Images | Home |

Comments to : thehindu@vsnl.com   Copyright 2009, The Hindu
Republication or redissemination of the contents of this screen are expressly prohibited without the written consent of The Hindu