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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

John Paul was an important voice of middle-of-the-road Malayalam cinema in the 1980s

The world of 1980s Malayalam cinema comes alive in the dozen or so books he wrote. Like most of the heroes he created, Paul was a much loved person in the industry who walked into the sunset with few complaints.

By: Editorial |
Updated: April 26, 2022 8:58:39 am
Paul wrote close to a hundred screenplays in a four-decade long career.

The 1980s and 90s were a fertile period for the Malayalam film industry. A new crop of directors and scriptwriters who were willing to experiment with new narrative styles and a middle-class audience had emerged. John Paul, 72, who passed away last week in Kochi, was an important voice of this school of cinema.

Paul wrote close to a hundred screenplays in a four-decade long career, which were directed by a new generation of directors who made their mark in the 1980s and thereafter — Bharathan, Mohan, I V Sasi, Balu Mahendra, Satyan Anthikkad, Sibi Malayil, Kamal. A majority of these — among them Chamaram, Marmaram, Ormmakkayi, Palangal, Athiratram, Revathikkoru Pavakkutty, Yatra, Oru Minnaminunginte Nurunguvettam, Unnikale Oru Kathaparayam and Chamayam — were both critical successes and box-office hits. Along with M T Vasudevan Nair and Padmarajan, script writer-directors, Paul wrote some of the best remembered roles in Malayalam cinema in the 1980s — Gopi in Revathikkoru Pavakutty and Sandhya Mayangum Neram, Nedumudi Venu in Ormakkayi and Vidaparayum Munpe, Murali in Chamayam, Mammootty in Yatra, Zarina Wahab in Chamaram, Mohan Lal in Unnikale Oru Kathaparayam.

A banker by profession, passionate about literature and active in the film society movement, Paul had become a scriptwriter in 1980 by accident. Most of his scripts had a tender love story as their core. They resonated with the moral world of middle-class Malayalis, who embraced these films. In the last few years, Paul had few films and he had turned to writing and TV talks. The world of 1980s Malayalam cinema comes alive in the dozen or so books he wrote. Like most of the heroes he created, Paul was a much loved person in the industry who walked into the sunset with few complaints.

This editorial first appeared in the print edition on April 26, 2022 under the title ‘The storyteller’.

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