October 25, 2017 5:14:50 am
Veteran Malayalam director I V Sasi, 69, who made around 150 films in his three-decade-long career, passed away on Tuesday in Chennai. Among his most notable films was Avalude Ravukal (Her Nights), that released in 1978. Sasi was often described as a pathbreaker, who made his mark during Malayalam cinema’s transformative period from the 1970s to 1990s. His films often had feministic or women-oriented narratives, a fact that many top actors who had worked with him testified to on Tuesday. Seema, who played the lead role of a prostitute in Avalude Ravukal, later got married to him. While he was at the peak of his career in Malayalam cinema, Sasi tried to break into Hindi films, and did several of them, including Man Ka Aangan (1979); Patita (1980) starring Mithun Chakraborty; Karishmaa (1984); and Anokha Rishta (1986).
Revathi, who starred in Sasi’s Devasuram, said, “His characters reflected the strength of women.” Remembering him as a workaholic who would be restless and anxious on film sets, she said, “He would be constantly thinking of new ideas and changing and exploring scenes and sequences till the camera rolled.” Khushbu, now a Congress leader, recalled that her first encounter with Sasi was when he turned her down for the role of a 14-year-old in love with a much older person, for a Hindi film. “Rajesh Khanna was the hero. He insisted that I may be the right person to do the role, but Sasi said I was far too young. Later, when I did much more complex roles in his movies, he would express regret for denying me that role. I would console him saying I wouldn’t have been acting in South India if I had done that role in Hindi then,” Khushbu, who went on to do many films with Sasi, said. But he was more than a director to her, she added. “At a time when houseowners denied houses to actors in Madras, C Sundar (Khushbu’s husband) and I stayed at his building for a long time. He used to remind us about the value of family. He used to jokingly tell Sundar not to ditch me. His spectacles, white cap, his signature shots, that smile, we are going to miss all that,” she said.
M T Vasudevan Nair, a veteran Malayalam writer and recipient of Njanapeedam Award, was a long-time associate of his. “As both of us were from Calicut, we knew each other even before he went to Madras with his dreams,” he said. Another Malayalam cinema veteran, Madhu, who turned 84 recently, did more than a dozen films with Sasi early in his career, and said they remained in touch. “He used to tell me about his passion for painting. Essentially he was a painter and that was what he tried to capture in his frames,” said Madhu, a popular actor in the 1960s and 70s.
Condoling Sasi’s death, Tamil star Kamal Haasan tweeted, “My friend for 45 years I V Sasi is no more. The industry and I mourn a great technician. My support & love to my sister Seema Sasi & family.”
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