KOCHI: The master performer of emotions, and one among the super trio of Malayalam cinema of the 50s and 60s, Sathyan passed away 39 years ago, leaving behind incomparable film characters.
Directors P Bhaskaran, Ramu Karyat, K S Sethumadhavan and producer M O Joseph were behind some of immortal characters of Sathyan. They made this possible by adopting the stories of their films from Malayalam short stories and novels by famous writers.
It was with the release of Neelakkuyil that Sathyan rose to stardom.
In Oru Penninte Katha, Kadalppalam, Chemmeen, Adimakal, Crossbelt, Vazhvemayam, Anubhavangal Palichakal, Odayil Ninnu, Velutha Kathreena and Aswamedham we can find Sathyan’s immortal performances.
Those films transformed the film appreciation of Malayalis to a realistic level.
Sathyan’s acting made many of his fans think that what they had witnessed in those films was real life.
Sathyan had self-trained capabilities to show different emotional states on his face that nobody could imitate.
Sathyan’s third son Jeevan Sathyan remembers a witty story told to him by his father - “During the second World war, Papa was serving in the Indian army in Burma.
It was a formidable night after heavy bombing by the Japanese.
Nothing could be seen other than the waving of a torch about a mile away. Papa thought it was a danger sign signaled by some soldier and crept on his knees for one mile and reached that spot. He was thoroughly upset to see that no-one was there.
It was only a torched branch of a tree moving to and fro when the wind blew.” Sathyan was interested in music as well. Many of the music composers of the time were his friends.
Chidambaranath was a close friend.
Sathyan was instrumental in introducing composer Raveendran as a singer. Jeevan says, “We have formed a Sathyan Foundation to commemorate Papa. We expect financial assistance from the government for it.” Sathyan most often drove his Herald car alone. Jeevan Sathyan says, “Papa was returning home from the shooting site of Chemmeen at Purakkad beach. He was very tired after the boat accident during the shooting. When he reached Mangalapuram, his car met with an accident. Papa was seriously injured. After some months, in a routine medical checkup in Chennai he came to know that he was suffering from the deadly leukaemia.” Sathyan’s performance scaled realistic heights in films produced by M O Joseph under the Manjilas banner. In these films, Sathyan and Sheela had outshone each other.
The dialogue delivery and expressions touched our hearts. Spontaneously improvised facial expressions had helped these actors bring out the correct emotions required for the situation.
It is a pity that Sheela was not given due recognition for her emotionally charged acting along with Sathyan. M O Joseph says in a telephonic chat from Chennai, “Sathyan was not an actor for me.
He was my best friend from the very beginning. But there were one or two occasions when the friendship developed cracks. My favourite is his role in Kadalppalam.” The manliness in Sathyan’s acting and his display of anger, love, contempt, agony and sadness makes him the epitome of the first full-grown realistic actor in Malayalam films.