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In search of new themes

Prema Manmadhan

K.G. George, one of the avant garde directors in the Eighties, turns 60.


My characters are all important. K.G. George



Trendsetter: K.G. George's films pleased the critics and the audience.

Director K.G. George always thought out-of-the-box and ahead of his times as his films prove. On Tuesday last he turned 60 and on Sunday, the film fraternity is throwing a birthday bash for him in Kochi.

Looking back, how has K.G. George, a student of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) fared?

`Fearlessly' would be an appropriate term, for he always tried to create his own path. "I hate repeating myself," he says. This explains why all his 19 films dealt with nearly as many subjects.

Middle-stream director

The Film Institute may have exposed him to the magic of cinema, but his stint as assistant to the legendary Ramu Kariat in the celebrated `Nellu' must have instilled in him that quality to jell cinematic norms with commercial elements. He was given the tag of a `via media director' together with Padmarajan and Mohan, which was a big compliment in the Eighties when most of his movies were hits. The middle-stream directors satisfied all groups of viewers and critics alike.

The Thiruvalla-born George often chose milieus in which he felt at home. "My characters are all important," he stresses.

With pal Padmarajan's script, he made `Swapnadanam,' his first independent venture in 1975.

It was not the usual love story, but a realistic movie that dealt with the mental trauma of a youth who had to forget his sweetheart and marry another girl. It was a commercial success and also won the Kerala State award for the best film.

George's last movie was released in 1998, `Elavankode Desam,' a period movie when mimicry movies ruled the roost. " The audience somehow did not relate to this movie," he says sadly. In between these two films, he created milestones in Malayalam cinema. Seven of his movies were screened at different international festivals.

`Mela' introduced Mammooty as a handsome hero, though the main role in the movie was done by a dwarf. `Yavanika' was a crime thriller with a difference, which also told the story of hapless touring drama troupes.

"Another movie `Kolangal' portrayed the ugly side of the pristine rural life that cinema glorified. That film is closest to my heart because it was a setting about which I knew so well and the characters were all very realistic," George says.

`Panchavadippalam,' a superb spoof on the global phenomenon of corruption in politics is a movie for all times.

Novel form of narrative

`Adaminte Variyellu' was a film that dealt with a novel form of narrative. Three women from three different rungs of society, all suffering in different ways from the deeds of their menfolk, was a cry for women's liberation from the shackles of societal pressures.

That a man could sense the innermost struggles within the female mind shows George's passion for the story and details. George is the founder-chairman of MACTA, and continues to be an executive member.

He is turning to telefilms for creative expression these days, because the "state of Malayalam cinema is still very bleak," as he says. "There are more failures than successes. Cinema used to be the chief form of entertainment. Not any more. It is just one of many, along with TV," George feels. Multiplexes could be the answer and movies with shorter duration, says George, who has a couple of projects ready.

"My script is ready, and as soon as I find a producer, I will make my movie," says the never-say-die director.

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